The Wanderer: Frankenstein’s Creature – Review
Follow Genre: Exploration, Visual novel
Developer: La Belle Games, ARTE France
Publisher: ARTE, ARTE France
Platform: PC, Mac, Switch, Android, iOS
Tested on: PC

The Wanderer: Frankenstein’s Creature – Review

Site Score
7.0
Good: an unique and original piece, you won't find anything like it
Bad: Starts very slow, barely has gameplay
User Score
7.5
(4 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 7.5/10 (4 votes cast)

Before reading this review, or perhaps playing The Wanderer yourself, it’s good to know that this is not a regular game. The Wanderer: Frankenstein’s Creature is co-produced and published by ARTE, which is a cultural European TV channel as well as a digital channel. The game they created with La Belle Games is somewhat educational and something that could have been part of a museum tour if it was a smaller game, which makes it a unique piece to review and discuss. So without further ado, let’s see what The Wanderer is all about!

Story

With a reasonable amount of text to read and a minimal percentage of interactivity, it’s safe to say that the story is The Wanderer’s main component. The entire premise is built around classic tales and the lessons they tell, weaving together some prominent facts from those tales as you follow a reworked version of Frankenstein’s sewn together creature. His face is still abominable, which is still terrifying villagers, but Frankenstein has become a medium to explore humanity as a whole, through different cultural situations and stories. He questions what love is, what faith is, and what it is like to have a family. All this while we still get to see what other people think and say as well.

Despite everything revolving around the story and perspective of a lonely, curious creature that questions his own existence, not all about the story is equally good. It’s created as a very poetic project, and especially the start plays like a tedious piece. Here the story doesn’t continue without forcing the player to explore small maps at a walking pace, and there’s little connection with our protagonist as he describes how he starts to slowly use his senses. This means as an example that he just starts learning what water is, what breathing is, and so on. Later on, the pace gets picked up a bit, but you still can’t expect to really ”play” a game. In The Wanderer, you’re more of a passive bystander who indirectly uses Frankenstein’s Creature’s eyes to gaze upon life.

Graphics

Dreamy painted environments are surrounding you. Sometimes with clear clues, sometimes obscure and abstract. Every screen can be different depending on what it is exactly the story is going to tell you next. From different villages to mountain peaks with snow, the environments lend themselves for a purpose connected to the story. This means finding a church to learn about faith, or a village to learn about love, fear, and family. The animations are pretty fluid, but eventually, the game is a visual novel that’s executed more elaborate than usual despite having animations and controllable movements on top of the painted backgrounds.

Sound

With atmospheric sounds such as orchestral violins swelling, synths and more, the game offers an artistic approach to i.e. progress, loading screens and more. Often it feels like a theatrical performance is being accompanied by a small band, just to make clear to you what’s happening. There are sounds, crowds murmuring, water running and such, but whatever you hear is tailor-made for the scene at hand.

Gameplay

As you probably know by now, there isn’t much gameplay in The Wanderer: Frankenstein’s Creature. The game could be best described as an exploration game or a visual novel that’s made with more effort due to the moving elements and the character you can control by clicking somewhere with your mouse. That the game is created with such simple controls works in its disadvantage in two ways. For one, there are some major boring moments, and for another, there are still some game-breaking bugs to be found. In one scene it’s possible to press ”test” keys to skip to a certain story part which breaks the game, in another an unbreakable loop is created as not all possible exits and ”what if” options and codes are properly covered. It’s safe to say that the developer team either didn’t do a lot of testing or just isn’t all too experienced. Luckily, scenes can be easily replayed as the game only has auto-saves at the start of each new scene, but it can bring some annoyance and breaks your experience nonetheless.

As for the ways you do get to play The Wanderer, most of the time you will just run around in search of where to go next. There are parts though that allow you to solve a very small puzzle or those that involve a minigame such as a sidescrolling rhythm game. These minigames and moments of interaction are a welcome change because they actually do break the feeling of running around aimlessly at times. Yet it’s not always enough to fully connect you with the world surrounding you, and combined with the bugs it just doesn’t really transcend the feeling of reading a visual novel more than playing a game. There are times that the game pretends to give a meaning to your actions, or to the things you are currently doing, but then it merrily skips on to the next scene and you have all but forgotten what seemed so important to it all in the first place.

Conclusion

The Wanderer: Frankenstein’s Creature is a game that feels like it’s somewhere in between a full game and a small museum experience. It’s still a bit buggy and doesn’t go much further ahead than a visual novel, yet it’s original in its way to use famous stories as a premise to explore humanity by following Frankenstein’s creature. The artsy approach in graphics and sound is done properly and works well enough to enhance the ”artsy” feel this game has.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.5/10 (4 votes cast)
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Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
The Wanderer: Frankenstein's Creature - Review, 7.5 out of 10 based on 4 ratings
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Find me on youtube to see some playthroughs! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuBrlulGywcb0EiYWBnA1ng

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