The Waylanders – Preview
Follow Genre: RPG, RTS
Developer: GATO STUDIO
Publisher: GATO STUDIO
Platform: PC (Steam)
Tested On: PC (Steam)

The Waylanders – Preview

Good: Good graphics and sound design
Bad: Clunky combat, bland gameplay, bad sound mixing
User Score
7.0
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Mythology has always been a popular source of inspiration for stories; plenty of different games draw from it and its content. Although the Greek one has traditionally been favored by developers in the west, many other stories from different cultures also exist. Attempting to bring some of the traditional Celtic mythos to light, The Waylanders sets itself in a magical world where the old gods have been corrupted.

The Waylanders’ story starts abruptly with the player set up as a guard for King Ith’s expedition to Inisfáil. In this mysterious land, the king expects to meet with the gods of the Celts, the Tuatha de Danaan, in order to establish diplomatic relationships. After a brief introduction of the characters that will become the main party, the game then proceeds to the meeting, only for it to be skipped with a caption reading “A few hours later…”, leading instead to a cutscene with a heavily injured King Ith being healed by Nazhedja and Amergin, the party’s magicians.

After deciding to run back to the boats, the party comes face to face with one of the gods, Lug, who proceeds to crush King Ith only to promptly be killed afterwards. Following these events, the prince, now king, commands the army’s retreat, while the player, the party’s magicians, and the late king’s cousin serve as a distraction. Unluckily, the quartet is soon enough caught by the leaders of the Tuatha, who proceed to kill the king’s cousin and blast the player through the portal being cast by the magicians.

With yet another time skip, the player then awakens in the Morian Otherworld where Nazhedja continues to establish one of the main plot points: the player has been disconnected from the timeline. After going back to the surface to meet up with Amergin, another reveal appears, this being that living beings have been magically corrupted by something probably related to the gods. With this knowledge and due to their condition, the player becomes the chosen one or Mi Espine who will join all the different factions and save the world by confronting the Tuatha.

The game’s graphics are generally quite decent, with good quality models for all characters, going hand ing hand with well-made animations. Throughout the game there are also different environments with good amounts of detail, although most levels have very linear pathways. On top of this, even at max graphical settings, certain areas look muddied out or somewhat blurry, almost counteracting any improvements made by said settings.

Similar to the graphics, The Waylanders’ sound department is quite well made with a good soundtrack and SFX. The game also includes complete voice acting for all dialogues and cutscenes, although this is where the problems start.

The volume for most of the voice acting wildly varies from scene to scene, being at times too quiet or too loud compared to the previous. To make things worse, the subtitles accompanying these cutscenes are rife with mistakes and typos.

As a game, The Waylanders belongs to the RPG genre with certain RTS elements for its combat. The core gameplay loop will generally come down to combat interrupted by story segments, structured in different missions. Besides those belonging to the main plotline, players may take side gigs and go on adventures related to their party members in order to increase their loyalty, obtain experience or items.

On each of these missions, the players will select which party members will come along, with each of them having different skills depending on their class. These classes are currently divided into six different ones, these being warrior, tank, thief, rogue, mage and druid. Out of these, the first pair specializes in melee combat and soaking up damage, the following in status effects and the last in magic. There are also unique classes for certain characters, with particular skills shared by no other, adding some uniqueness in comparison to the generic classes shared by the rest.

Once the party members have been selected, the missions start, often containing combat. During combat sections, players will control one of their party members, with the others being taken over by the AI. In order to recover manual control over these characters, players may click on them or their portraits, as well as employ the typical “tactical time” from RTS games in order to command them before resuming movement. Sadly, this system, which could otherwise work, is bogged down by the awful AI of the characters, who will often get stuck in geometry or simply not move.

Even when manually controlling the characters, the combat doesn’t flow smoothly, with overtly long waiting times between auto attacks, the inability to attack while running and odd controls. To top it off, while using certain abilities, the characters will simply stand in place for a moment before casting, without animation or any indicator other than a small circle closing. The only redeeming quality of the combat would be the “formation” abilities, through which several characters join their strength in a temporary form with new abilities. By controlling all characters at once while feeling somewhat powerful, the game balances out its issues, although these abilities don’t last and still lack flow between attacks.

After combat and missions, the different characters will obtain experience, with which they may level up. Upon doing so, they will be able to improve their stats and obtain new abilities, even if the AI won’t utilize them effectively. That said, these stat increases seem to have little effect, seeing as trying to invest upwards of 30 points in a single stat virtually changed nothing on the linked properties.

Conclusion

Despite appearing like a competent game, The Waylanders is currently too unpolished to be good. Its story is rather generic, the audio mixing poor and most of all, its core gameplay is woefully clunky. At the astonishingly high price of €34,99/ £29.99/ $34.99, The Waylanders is not recommendable at all in its current Early Access state, although this may change upon fully releasing. We have seen games with very rough edges become polished diamonds upon full release, but a lot of work has to be done here before that is the case.

Personal Opinion

“I expected good things out of The Waylanders, but going into it I was let down almost immediately. Right after I was first dropped into combat, I realized how bad the experience was going to be, and I was right. Attacking enemies feels completely unresponsive to player input; you cannot dodge attacks, healing locks you into an animation, etc etc. If at least the story and dialogues had been good, perhaps the experience could’ve been salvageable but again, I was let down by uninteresting characters who kept breaking any immersion by talking like modern people. There’s something that feels downright wrong about seeing an immortal seer who has lived for centuries drop f-bombs every two sentences, call the prince dipshit, and generally act like a fratboy cliché. If it were only this character, which is mostly well-written otherwise, it would be alright, but the others also drop swear words every few moments with barely any style. Now, don’t take me for a prude, I swear a lot, I’m a programmer, half of what I do is swearing while looking at reference. That said, there is no fucking way I would keep dropping the word in random sentences for the sake of doing so (see what I did there?)”.

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Rating: 7.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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Rating: -1 (from 1 vote)
The Waylanders - Preview, 7.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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