The Wild At Heart presents a tale of two juvenile runaways Wake and Kirby. As the game unfolds it begins to deepen and the player is plunged into a fantasy world reminisce of that of a fairytale. The woodland world has mysteries galore and is teaming with puzzles, loot, and quirky characters. Threats loom and a clever artistic design teamed with complimenting soundtrack results in a positive adventure. Moonlight Kids have treated us to a great title. As always, thanks for joining us, and read on for the rest of the review.
A Deep and Intriguing Tale
The story for The Wild At Heart evokes feelings from the onset of the game. The player starts the game as Wake a juvenile boy. The opening scene starts with Wake in a room that would be envious of anyone associating with geek culture. The room is littered with several abstract references such as a poster that says Vamp Kids but is almost identical to a cartoonish The Lost Boys’ movie poster.
Wake is preparing to run from his home, the home that we learn he shares with his father. When Wake leaves the room we see the rest of the house which is in disarray and Wake makes a comment about how he can’t go into his dad’s room. Additionally, he also states his father is the reason he is leaving. It’s heavily implied that Wakes’ father suffers from either mental health issues or addiction issues. There is also no mention of Wakes’ mother.
As the story unfolds several flashbacks are shown in key moments of the story, usually when Wake is sleeping. As a result of this, the player views some of Wakes’ home life and the reasoning behind his departure. When Wake leaves his home and heads for the woodland he is searching for his friend Kirby but Wake stumbles a few times and ends up lost and unsure of where anything is. He is greeted by a peculiar character called Grey Coat. This is where the magical tale begins to unravel.
Order Of Greenshields Go!
Grey coat introduces the player to an order called the Greenshields which has since been disbanded. Grey coat states that Wake must have been called by “her” to help locate the Greenshields. Wake learns that he has a way with magical creatures called spritelings and this will help him achieve his goal. Thus, starting the story for The Wild At Heart.
Overall, the story is incredibly magical and endearing to players. It gives a whimsical touch and with a playstyle reminisce of the Pikmin games it is an enjoyable experience for all. Meet quirky characters and most importantly play a major role in restoring the Greenshield order to its former glory.
Meet the Quirky Characters
Wake and Kirby are arguably very likable protagonists but the Greenshield order features an array of fierce and fabulous characters also. Take, for example, Crows Nest which is pictured above. Crows Nest is an intriguing and aesthetically pleasing merchant who resides in the main hub area for the game. Crows Nest will buy and sell a variety of items and requests the player to assist them in procuring items to upgrade their shop. The characters are by no means boring and bring an exciting flair that some adventure games lack.
Spritelings, Crafting and Useful Tools Oh My!
Spritelings are introduced as little creatures that assist the player in a variety of tasks. Spritelings come in several types and forms and are the main gameplay feature. As discussed before, The Wild At Heart introduces similar gameplay to that of Pikmin and overlord (Both great games, check them out!) The player must control the spritelings in order to solve puzzles, attack enemies and pick up hard-to-reach loot. The spritelings can have different elemental aspects. For example, there are Twiglings which are pictured above who are immune to toxic gas, and then there are Emberling’s that are fire types who can set bramble on fire to clear the way. The spritelings are essential for the completion of the game and mastering controlling them allows a facile approach for the player.
Crafting allows the player to create several items to assist in their adventure. The example shown above is a makeshift flair that allows the player to be saved from the perils of night falling or to remind them that they have been in that area recently. Other items such as potions, explosives, and meals to replenish health can all be crafted at any campsite.
Both Wake and Kirby are armed with a variety of clever thought-out tools to help solve puzzles. Wake starts the game with a Gustbuster which is essentially a leaf blower. This allows Wake to suck up items and spritelings and redirect them. Kirby gains something similar early on as well which is later that repels blue ailments plaguing the land. Both tools help enhance gameplay and it’s enjoyable to retrace when you gain new tools to see what secrets have been missed.
There’s a Reason Why Some Beasties are Called Never
The combat in the game was largely focused on directing the spritelings to attack. Learning very early on that the player did insignificant damage by just kicking. Kirby and Wake are better to use the spritelings to attack something. However, there was one enemy called the Never which appears only at night and can not be attacked in the early stages of the game. The Never pounces on the player once night descends and not even an army of spritelings can prevent the damage that the Never does. This is an exhilarating element to the adventure as it’s advised for the player to seek shelter as soon as that clock starts ticking down.
Other enemies to name a few include mushroom helmeted warriors, giant slimes, and horrific-looking wasp-like flying creatures. The Spritelings charge and begin to kick and punch away at them and usually if there is a good number of them they end up victorious. However, they are often knocked back and in some instances killed if the opponent is powerful. The player being defenseless does leave a gap in the combat that could potentially be improved. Even if the player was to be armed with a wooden sword.
The Power Of Friendship
One interesting and enjoyable aspect of gameplay that should be mentioned is the having to switch between Wake and Kirby. Once Kirby has been found by Wake and introduced back at the main area of the story, Kirby can be played as. Kirby can squeeze through logs and often has to be switched to help assist with something. Having the choice between each character is good to mix things up but also good for when Kirby is needed to do something that her character specializes in.
A World So Easy To Get Lost In
The world for a game of this nature is incredibly vast. Retracing is important with the gaining of new skills and new spritelings so revisiting areas is common. The artistic ingenuity of the design of the world is to be noted as it creates a whimsical and fairytale-like experience. It truly is a woodland experience as you traverse from the deep woods to crystal caverns and hidden grottos.
Compelling Story, Clever Artistic Design and A world to get lost in
Overall, The Wild at Heart is an indie game that deserves endless credit. The Wild at Heart has ensured that a story-rich adventure is paired with gameplay that leaves the player excited to play and not just involved in a tedious grind to the end. Deep and quirky characters complement the compelling story which includes relevant and relatable mature themes. Such a deep story and tale can only be applauded.
As always, I would like to extend my utmost thanks from us here at VIBE for you following our review of The Wild At Heart for Xbox. The Wild At Heart is definitely an indie game you could consider checking out. If you are interested check the trailer out below or purchase it on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1093290/The_Wild_at_Heart/ or check it out as it’s currently on Xbox game pass.
25, Indie Game connoisseur. Also a hamster mum, fiancée & working in the addiction field. Gaming and writing are my escape and comfort for when the world gets too much!