Taking part in Wayward Strand appears like navigating an in depth clockwork mechanism. It jogs my memory of these cuckoo clocks the place on the hour each hour a tiny door opens revealing two mechanical dolls that come collectively and have a ‘lil smooch. That’s basically how Wayward Strand works however on an even bigger scale. Characters are set on strict routines, following predetermined paths and schedules which are typically invisible to you. They welcome an interruption – a pleasant natter or useful hand – however whether or not you’re there or not, they’ll go about their enterprise regardless. The world retains on spinning and all that.
It’s an attention-grabbing method of capturing the passage of time, and in Wayward Strand the way you select to spend that point is fairly vital in a sport that makes a degree of not ready for you.
In Wayward Strand you play as fourteen-year-old Casey who’s spending the tail-end of her summer time holidays at her mum’s office – an airborne hospital tethered to the shores of their small city in Australia. Casey’s mum has requested her to go to every of the affected person’s rooms and spend a while with them, serving to out in the event that they want something however in any other case simply giving them a little bit of firm. Chatting with the hospice’s residents begins as well mannered small discuss however over the course of three days, you’ll quickly be looking for out the histories, tales, and gossip of this airborne retirement dwelling.
Casy is a little bit of a nervous teenager, however that doesn’t cease the outdated of us from having a natter with you and the sport does a fantastic job of capturing the honesty that blesses us in outdated age (also referred to as not giving a toss about what individuals consider you). A few of them are candy as a tea with 4 sugars in it, however they will typically be a bit impolite, a bit of blunt, go on lengthy rants about their hobbies, and have zero disgrace in telling you that spirits try to contact them by means of the TV set. It’s great how they’re authentically themselves and because the mundane small discuss ultimately melts into precise friendship you be taught their tales, their thrilling pasts, these they’ve misplaced, and why they’re on the airship. Put together to get a case of the nice and cozy fuzzies.
Via your rising friendships, it quickly turns into clear that Wayward Strand isn’t telling one overarching story, however plenty of little ones. These all develop in real-time and you may have interaction with them nevertheless you wish to. You’re free to roam the airship every day, speaking to whomever you want and checking in on storylines that pique your curiosity. For a hospital stuffed with outdated individuals there’s a whole lot of exercise, and getting caught up within the lives and gossip of the ship is a part of the enjoyable. Who constructed the hospital and why? Why did the nurse out of the blue stop final week? Who’s the mysterious customer dropping by in two days’ time?
I love me some gossip, and these pocket-sized mysteries fuelled me all through my time with Wayward Strand, and seems the characters find it irresistible too. Piecing collectively titbits that you’ve got heard from totally different snippets of dialog is how you retain up with the sport’s diverging tales. It feels such as you’ve been dropped into an episode of Neighbours but when all of the characters had retired to an airborne outdated of us’ dwelling.
“Since everyone seems to be on their very own schedule, it typically feels such as you’re attempting to navigate a large machine of transferring components”
You additionally get alternatives to be extremely nosey, and that is one thing else I thrive off. You possibly can peek into rooms, snoop on conversations, and “unintentionally” overhear cellphone exchanges. You’ll typically see two individuals having a natter with some speech bubbles above their heads and must get nearer to listen to what they’re truly saying. Since everyone seems to be on their very own schedule, it typically feels such as you’re attempting to navigate a large machine of transferring components. I used to be as soon as hanging out with Ida in her room (a beautiful, mild soul with immaculate grandma vibes) once I noticed a bunch of the nurses begin to collect across the entrance desk – a extremely uncommon occasion in a busy hospice. Realising I may very well be lacking out on some main drama I rapidly completed up my dialog and scurried off to eavesdrop. Sorry Ida, you’ll be able to inform me about your knitting one other time, my drama senses had been tingling.
In your first playthrough (and I like to recommend a number of playthroughs) you’ll be able to’t actually plan for these moments, however as a substitute of getting main FOMO, it makes the airborne hospital really feel alive with exercise. It additionally turns into rapidly obvious that you simply’re going to overlook some vital particulars – in spite of everything, you’ll be able to’t be all over the place directly – however with every playthrough there’s extra to find. There may very well be a department of somebody’s story you missed the primary time round or a complete plot thread that utterly alluded you. All the pieces is so tightly on a schedule that you can spend the complete three days not interacting with anybody in any respect and simply listening to the exercise round you.
My solely gripe is that there aren’t any handbook saves, which means you may have to play every in-game day in a single go in your progress to be saved. As somebody who likes to play video games in brief bursts, it isn’t very best but it surely’s in no way devastating as every day takes simply over an hour to play, with the sport being round 4-ish hours lengthy from starting to finish. Seems to be like the sport takes its function of stopping for nobody fairly critically.
Wayward Strand is aware of to not outstay its welcome, and I got here away feeling utterly refreshed. Spending a few hours navigating the hallways, affected person rooms, and airship innards in real-time is a enjoyable mechanism and one which goes hand in hand with the sport’s wider themes in regards to the passage of time, being younger, and rising outdated. Assembling a narrative by means of particulars present in conversations and overheard snippets of dialogue are nice storytelling gadgets, and though you can play it as soon as and be glad, I like to recommend a number of playthroughs to actually uncover every little thing it has to supply. After my handful of playthroughs, it truthfully felt like I had pieced collectively a bigger entire, and I actually felt like I lastly understood the beating coronary heart on the centre of this clockwork machine.