Wailing Heights by indie developers Outsider Games is essentially what would happen if you merged Transylvanian monsters, 60s-70s rock music, and comic books together into one entity. Wailing Heights has a sort of cool, Scooby-Doo vibe to it that brings me back to when I was a kiddo, watching cartoon reruns starring meddling kids and their dog. The eerie colour palette accentuates the colourful cast of characters and brings a unique aesthetic to the game.
The story centers around a band called The Deadbeats. In life, they were a band that achieved international fame at their height and fell apart once the uglier side of fame showed itself. Now all former members of the Deadbeats are… well, dead.
We play Mr. or Ms. Finkelstein, former manager of the Deadbeats. Finklestein somehow finds themself in the underworld town of Wailing Heights and is the only living person in town. How? We don’t know. But we are detained by local law enforcement until they can figure out what to so with us.
But we don’t have time to wait for our public attorney to figure stuff out! We have to get out of here.
Wailing Heights unravels through puzzles that can only be solved by exploring the world. We do this by taking over the bodies of various monster characters we unlock as the game progresses. Each monster has different skills and abilities. Solving the puzzles require the strategic utilization of these skills to progress. As the game progresses a lot of body-hopping happens. But the key to the answer lies within talking with the locals to figure out the whats-what and whos-who of Wailing Heights.
I found that Wailing Height‘s puzzles are challenging, without being so difficult that I want to vault myself into the sun in frustration. Only once did I find myself wondering around with literally no idea what I was supposed to do next. This ended up being my own fault, as I completely bypassed a very obvious clue. The game does not freely give answers, but it does not leave its players hanging with no indication of where to go next.
As we progress through the story, we unlock cutscenes in the form of comic panel stories. The hard linework and popping colors of the game’s art proudly gives it that comic book feel. The further we go, the more Finklestein’s purpose in Wailing Heights becomes clear.
From a completely original lyrical soundtrack to interesting re-imaginings of modern monsters, Wailing Heights is a game unlike many others. Satisfying puzzles and interesting characters make for an enjoyable experience. And, perhaps most compelling, it is sprinkled with jokes like this: