Every now and then, we run into a game that just oozes so much charm that we can’t help but want to play it. Wayward Strand is one such game, so when Ghost Pattern’s story-driven adventure launched on all systems we jumped on the opportunity to review it. We played it on a PlayStation 4, but the game is out for all major systems.
And while the game’s art style is striking enough, the story and cast are definitely part of the charm as well. Our star protagonist is a 15 year old girl named Casey Beaumaris, and she’s about to spend a long weekend aboard a floating hospital where her mother works. Because the game looks and feels like an old storybook, this notion of an airborne hospital is somehow immediately intriguing to us as players. Casey must agree, because she sees herself as somewhat of a journalist and is looking to make the most of her short trip there, checking out the history of the place and getting to know its (mostly elderly) residents.
Unsurprisingly with a cast of older people with stories to tell, the general mood and pace in Wayward Strand is a tranquil one. The audiovisual presentation captures this perfectly as well, with a storybook-like visual style and matching animations. There’s even a subtle visual layer of diorama-like stage-building here to give you the illusion this is a storybook or screenplay that’s coming to life, and it’s easy to become enchanted with it.
The presentation extends to the game’s dialogue, which is there in abundance with over 20,000 lines – a daunting task for the people in charge of all the voice acting you’ll hear. People you meet generally aren’t in a rush to finish talking either, so prepare to listen and watch the story unfold – this isn’t a game for those who are in a hurry, as you can’t skip the dialogue even though you can read along with on-screen text bubbles if you want.
And while there’s a lot of story (and thus dialogue) to uncover on subsequent playthroughs, this is also when you’re going to wish you could skip past some of the lines you’re already familiar with. Wayward Strand is incredibly endearing, but it’s definitely for the more patient gamers among us. If you’re more action-oriented, you’ll also find that this one doesn’t contain a lot of traditional gameplay – you basically click your way through a storybook-like narrative that’s easy to get lost in and feels original and wholesome in the way it’s presented. That charm we thought we saw? Wayward Strand more than delivers.