Choose My Adventure: The Wagadu Chronicles is off to an extremely rough start


Early access games are one of those things where you pretty much are buying something broken. It’s like antique shopping for video games except there’s no patina or history to the fixer-upper, but you just sort of have the mindset – for better or worse – that things aren’t right at the time of purchase but could hopefully get better later.

Right now, with another reminder that this column isn’t intended as a final review piece or ultimate judgment, I have to say that right now The Wagadu Chronicles is incredibly broken.

I’ll begin by saying that the setting and aesthetic is absolutely not where the damage lies by any stretch of the imagination. In fact it’s my feeling that the Afrofantasy world that Twin Drums has built here is probably the most complete portion of the sandbox. The character creation, while not incredibly robust, had a lot of choices to consider and some very closely guided hands in terms of setting up character identity and naming conventions; you don’t get to write your own name and instead select from drop-down menus in order to keep to Wagadu’s world.

This to me makes perfect sense since the game really wants players to be in-character as frequently as possible, maybe even all of the time. I admit that this will probably be nigh-impossible for the studio to enforce, but as a roleplayer I appreciate that building a character identity isn’t being relegated to some silent gentleman’s agreement on an unofficial RP server.

Where things fall apart is in the gameplay, or at least the initial gameplay moments that I had the time to experience to this point (I’ve had a lot of writing projects spring up, hence the tardiness of this op-ed). The game’s very first tutorial stages were solid enough, granting me an initial taste of combat, some basic gathering and crafting information, and the expected movement control details – thank goodness this is WASD movement and not click-to-move, bless you Twin Drums. After that point, I was brought to a selection of a different starter island. And that’s when the wheels came off.

Initially I had assumed that the training wheels were torn away and I was left to fend for my own, but at least the opening tutorial beats had me prepared to try to push the envelope. I wandered around for a bit, gathered some natural resources, tried to survive a fight or two, and fled when it was clear my training weapons weren’t cutting it. Having played a dearth of survival sandboxes to this point, I immediately went into crafter/gatherer mode, hoovering up rocks and bark and sticks to walk over to the only crafting station on the entire map.

Nothing about this was necessarily offensive, but it was stupendously dull all the same. Crafting is your usual “click button, get shiny” method of creating items, but what made things depressing to deal with was the fact that I could only craft one item at a time. Worse yet, nothing in the UI indicated how many resources I had. Most of my time in this game so far was spent standing idle, clicking a button, and waiting for a bar to fill up, until I could do no more of those things and craft the item I wanted.

Still, I managed to get myself a nicer bow and arrow with my new items, which ended up making fighting a bit less painful. While most might balk at the turn-based combat mechanics of Wagadu, I actually quite liked them, as it felt like a great replication of tabletop RPG gameplay, with movement, player action, and enemy action phases that felt very familiar to this forever DM.

Once again, though, things weren’t exactly glowing here either, as a lot of very important combat information like range of weapons, names of enemies, and perhaps other salient details like resistances, buffs, and other effects were not present. Most of the time I had to guess whether I was within minimum range to begin with, then try to suss out an optimal range for my bow, all while trying to remember what enemy ranges were. It’s not really cerebral so much as obnoxious and needlessly obfuscatory.

After a certain point of wandering around in this manner, I noticed that there was an icon on the left side of the screen that provided even more tutorial missions, all of which were focused on crafting. I had sorted this all out on my own, but it was still nice to see those guides there, as well as to get XP and goodies along the way. On the subject of XP, character progression has some interesting wrinkles, with daily “memories” that can be used to unlock levels of different combat styles and professions, while XP earned from doing activities can be spent on each successive level to improve things like aim, combat initiative, or speed of gathering and crafting.

Even with all of this learning and growth, I ran into a stone wall in the form of one of these guide quests. I’m meant to find a very specific item without any indication of how, since in-game guidance doesn’t exist and player guides are apparently outdated. It all came to a head when I ran into a fight against six enemies that I believe were bugged as they overhealed each other to the point where damaging them didn’t move their health bar at all.

That was the point that I decided to stop playing. For now, anyway. I’m not quite done with this game yet, especially in light of the roadmap that Twin Drums posted recently. Still, it is becoming very hard to find reasons to push forward with Wagadu as it stands now, and I’m not sure when any of the fixes and quality-of-life I desperately feel are needed are coming.

That is unfortunately reflected in the single poll choice that I’ve got for the game for this week:

Should I stay on this island or try to move to somewhere else?

  • Stay. Tough it out, figure things through. You can do it! (24%, 14 Votes)
  • Go. Find somewhere else to be and see if problems persist. (76%, 45 Votes)

Total Voters: 59

Loading ... Loading ...

There is another poll this time around, however. Since I don’t have many days left for our jaunt in Wagadu, I’ll be looking ahead to the next month’s game, and so that brings us to the second poll’s topic.

What game should I go to next? Choose My Adventure!

  • Helldivers 2. Something something Super Earth. (24%, 20 Votes)
  • Islands of Insight. Puzzle it out. (5%, 4 Votes)
  • Nightingale. Wander the realms. (56%, 47 Votes)
  • RuneScape. More sandboxes, plz. (5%, 4 Votes)
  • Zenith. Both MMO and side piece. (7%, 6 Votes)
  • Vindictus. Do the action combat thing. (4%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 84

Loading ... Loading ...

Polling will wrap up as usual at 1:00 p.m. EST on Friday, February 23rd. For now, I’m going to tough it out here in the land of Wagadu. Mostly because I’m stubborn.

Welcome to Choose My Adventure, the column in which you join Chris each week as he journeys through mystical lands on fantastic adventures – and you get to decide his fate. Which is good because he can often be a pretty indecisive person unless he’s ordering a burger.
Previous articleWarframe releases to iOS devices today, complete with cross-play and cross-platform save features
Next articleNew World’s latest video teases the final leg of the MMO’s main story quest revamp

No posts to display

Subscribe to:
oldest most liked
Inline Feedback
View all comments