You lead your tribe on foot. Wandering helplessly across a world in decay as supplies and hope dwindles.
You have no home or shelter. In front of you, the ground shakes, and before your eyes, you see your salvation rising from the toxic ground in the form of an ancient, lovable, and frustratingly sleepy giant named Onbu.
You take your tribe aboard Onbu’s back and embark on a journey across many different biomes, each with different benefits and challenges to manage as you attempt to optimize your newfound settlement and its relationship with its host.
My First 30 Minutes In The Wandering Village
At first, your settlement and Onbu will be more like coworkers who just met and speak different languages.
You do your thing, and they do theirs.
However, as your camp gains a foothold, stacks resources, and establishes a research center, you can slowly start to invest in more ways to interact with Onbu and your relationship becomes more symbiotic. In this dying world, you can’t survive without Onbu, and they can’t survive without you.
As you develop more complex ways to take care of your villagers, you also create more ways to take care of Onbu, make sure they get plenty of rest, launch food at its mouth with a trebuchet, and even control Onbu’s digestive system or make use of their giant… excrement.
As you gain more trust with Onbu, they will be more inclined to listen to your commands, whether to walk, run, which direction to wander, or stop falling asleep in such toxic plumes.
The Wandering Village Gameplay
With any city builder, the game’s name is management and optimization.
The wandering village has plenty of this for you to tackle, even right out of the gate in early access. One of the first things that will be apparent is that, while you have enough space to give you creative freedom on the back of Onbu, your space isn’t infinite.
As your village grows, you will need to re-optimize dwellings, storage, farms, etc. to accommodate. On top of the normal city-building resources to expect (water, food, medicine, villager happiness, etc.) you will also be managing the toxic plumes of the world you wander. This toxicity not only poisons your settlers and hurts Onbu, but will spawn poisonous plants in and around your village that you will need to deal with quickly or things can get ugly.
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Managing where Onbu falls asleep or how quickly they move through an area can help mitigate this. Your tech tree has a few solutions as well.
User Interface Of The Wandering Village
I appreciate the Effort Stray Fawn Studios put into making a functional user interface. There’s all the information you need to manage your settlement, but not so much that it’s overwhelming.
At one glance, you can see temperature affecting crop yield, air and ground toxicity, Onbu’s current heart rate in beats per minute, and much more. It’s very utilitarian, yet if you need more depth, you can simply click on dropdown menus within the UI and get all the info you want.
One thing that wasn’t necessary but made me happy in my gameplay experience was the seamless transitions from the point of view and zoom levels.
With a quick scroll of the mouse wheel (or assigned hotkeys), you can go from the map of the world to a zoomed-out view of the village that shows all of Onbu and your city in their full glory, to a functional top-down view of your village, then finally an up close and personal horizontal look at you villagers and city.
The transitions between each are very satisfying, and I love how close you can zoom in. It gave me as the player a sense of connectedness to the world I was building and shows off the game’s beautiful detail and art style.
There’s a lot to enjoy for an early access game here.
The vibrant 2.5D art style, the UI experience, the Norse throat singing soundtrack, and just Onbu, in general, all come together to make The Wandering Village a city builder worth playing right now. I would like to see things like a more expansive tech tree and more variations of random encounters as you’re wandering around come to the game in the future, but that’s the beauty of early access games.
Stray Fawn Studios seems eager to hear feedback and open to suggestions as far as the roadmap goes, but they also have taken care to release a game with a focused vision and enough content to satisfy supporters right now. Something I can’t say about many early access releases.
I’m excited to pop into The Wandering Village whenever there’s an update to see what’s new. If you enjoyed games like RimWorld Or Frostpunk and are keen on a more wholesome experience, I’d encourage you to try The Wandering Village on Steam or Xbox.