Going into any beta, it’s important to remember that a large chunk of the content won’t be there and that the game is likely to change substantially before release. With Wildermyth, I can wait.
The amount of content already in place in Wildermyth is enough to play for hours and still not see it all. At this stage it’s already possible to sink a dozen or so hours into a campaign and, beyond the occasional viewable code, never realise you’re playing an early beta.
Part of the reason for this is that World Walker Games have made a few clever decisions. The papercraft art style allows them to use very simple animations and means new objects, scenery, weapons, and enemies are easy to add. And it is attractive and stylistic in a way I didn’t expect papercraft to be.
Characters especially are handled cleverly as items, effects, and limbs are all designed to be easily customisable. Which is very important to Wildermyth‘s Legacy mechanic.
As you undertake campaigns in the world of Wildermyth, your heroes will encounter a plethora of events from a talking snapping turtle claiming to be a princess to joining the wandering church of Dale. With its papercraft style, the developers have decided to present these events a webcomic style which I was skeptical about at first. But after seeing it in play, it definitely works. The only issue is that at this early stage, every character stands in the same slightly hunched battle pose. Hopefully they change this up for full release but for now it’s forgivable (and kinda funny)
The events aren’t just for story though. While some may offer temporary bonuses for the upcoming fight or to define the relationships between heroes, some give unique improvements that change how the character looks and plays.
After discovering a sacred altar with a fire asking to be released, my newest recruit had the option to stick her hand into it. So obviously I let her and she was gifted with a flaming hand that lets her shoot a cone of fire as her main attack.
After a particularly difficult incursion fought by just two of my first generation heroes (each chapter moves the game on 10 years), my mage was maimed and my archer had to hide until the 8 turn limit. The game then gave me an event in which the archer searches frantically for the mage, swearing vengeance on those that hurt him. The archer finds him and confesses his love to which I get to choose the mage’s response.
Obviously I chose to reciprocate.
After completing a campaign one of the surviving heroes is chosen to become a “local legend” and so on as you build a meta-mythology. Recruiting old heroes to your aid as you play again in a newly generated world.
The combat itself is standard fare for a tactics game and works well enough at providing some strategy. The most interesting part being the “interfuse” power which allows mages to enchant nearby terrain in order to use its special ability. Wooden items can be exploded into AoE splinters, flames can be commanded to move around the map (which is the best tactic), and various effects to hobble, blind, or trap enemies.
Where Wildermyth differs from other tactics games I’ve played is that when a hero levels up, they are given 3 random powers to choose from (sort of like Stellaris with its technology system). And I appreciate this as it means each hero follows a different path instead of the optimum for their build.
And after a few good events and power choices, certain heroes can end up as a force of nature as my firebomb hurling mage Fionrel turned out to be.
Wildermyth, even though its stories are pre-written, is a great example of emergent storytelling. The world and heroes I started with were randomly generated but they had character that influenced what events they would be drawn to. And as the player, I had no idea what to expect next so each event was exciting. Would I get the blessing of the wolf god or get a limb bitten off? Would this witch curse us or bless us? What happens if I try and steal this weird gem? Watching them grow organically made it all that much sweeter when they retired and had their 100 years of peace.
The only gripes I have at this stage are the occasional visible code breaking the mood, sometimes events use heroes that aren’t close by or puts them in the wrong role for the scene, and the scene of an event before an attack doesn’t always line up with what board you end up on (forest scene, town board). But I have no doubt that all of these will be addressed by the time full release rolls around.
If you’re a fan of emergent storytelling, tactical RPGs, or heck, just fantasy in general, you really need to try Wildermyth.