Balan Wonderworld Evaluate – Not So Fantastic
Change between quite a few costumes that every grant you a single energy and search out collectibles in a colourful 3D platformer affected by questionable design choices.
Developer: Arzest, Sq. Enix
Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Collection X/S, Nintendo Change (reviewed)
MonsterVine was supplied with a Change code for evaluation.
The demo for Balan Wonderworld didn’t go away me impressed, however I held out hope that the ultimate sport can be a giant enchancment. Sadly, it isn’t. Balan Wonderworld begins with an sad youngster, both a boy or woman you get to decide on between firstly, working away from their state of affairs and assembly Balan, who says they’re lacking their coronary heart and sweeps them off into his wonderworld. That’s just about all of the story context you get. After that cutscene, you end up within the Isle of Tims hub world to begin visiting worlds and grabbing collectibles. In my authentic preview, I prompt this lack of context is likely to be as a result of it was a demo, however that isn’t the case.
I don’t want numerous story in my 3D platformers; “the princess has been captured and you could discover these stars to unlock the doorways” is nice sufficient for me in relation to this style, however one way or the other Balan Wonderworld lacks even that. Every world is crammed with golden statues of Balan, and when you get sufficient Balan Statues, you activate a practice to extra worlds… or quite, the practice drives you across the island whereas extra world entrances pop up round it. You additionally gather colourful drops in every world, which you’ll be able to then feed to the Tims, small creatures that dwell on the Isle of Tims. Feeding Tims finally enables you to hatch extra Tims, and also you’ll additionally discover eggs hidden as collectibles. The hub accommodates a tower that’s slowly constructed because the Tims spin a wheel, so having extra Tims hurries up that course of. Because of the gameplay loop of grabbing drops, feeding Tims, and visiting extra worlds, I most likely would have assumed constructing the tower was the principle purpose of the sport if it didn’t really say “sub-objective.” Tims are cute, and watching them velocity throughout the island to eat the drops I’d scattered was one of many issues I really actually loved within the sport. The primary purpose or not, it was sure my driving motivation to maintain going into these worlds.
Regardless of having massive areas to discover, the levels have a reasonably linear development, with a single purpose to achieve on the finish and aspect paths to discover alongside the way in which to seek out the collectibles. Every world has two levels after which a boss combat (plus a 3rd stage unlocked after you beat the principle sport). Whereas every boss solely takes three hits to defeat, you get a Balan Statue for every section you harm the boss in. This provides a puzzle-like ingredient as you strive to determine tips on how to use your costumes to assault in numerous phases if you would like all three statues. Cutscenes earlier than and after the boss combat clarify that world’s story, they usually all observe an analogous construction: a personality has a dream or ardour, one thing occurs to fill them with unfavourable feelings they usually fall into darkness, and your combat in opposition to the boss frees them and lets them discover their happiness once more. It’s an attention-grabbing idea, and I simply want the sport really related these disjointed tales to the overarching sport a bit extra clearly. Bafflingly, there’s a novel tie-in that includes the story context the sport is lacking, and it will have been so significantly better if that was really within the sport.
The core gameplay revolves round discovering unlockable costumes, and that is the place the true flaws begin to present. Costumes are scattered throughout the degrees, and also you want a key to choose one up. The secret’s often a number of ft away, making it a pointless approach so as to add time to the method. Should you die, you’ll lose your outfitted costume and wish to choose it up once more in the event you nonetheless need to use it. Each face button does the very same factor, and your outfitted costume determines what that’s. Some costumes can bounce. Some can assault, however not bounce. Greater than as soon as I discovered myself in hassle as a result of I didn’t have any varieties that might bounce. Oh, and since each face button does the identical factor, this implies there isn’t a “cancel” button in menus, both. There are 80 completely different costumes within the sport, however some are practically an identical whereas others are slight variations on one another, and there are some with such extremely particular features that you simply’ll not often use them once more.
Should you take harm, your present costume disappears. You’ll be able to have three costumes with you at a time and swap between them utilizing the shoulder buttons. Should you decide up a fourth costume, the final one on the listing goes into your dressing room. That’s necessary as a result of the sport treats costumes as objects. Along with choosing up costumes within the worlds themselves, you may change your costumes from the dressing room at any checkpoint, however solely when you have them saved. Since every world has its personal set of costumes, in the event you want an earlier costume to achieve a Balan Statue or different collectible however don’t have any copies of that costume left, you’ll should revisit the older world to choose it up once more. This highlights the principle drawback with Balan Wonderworld–all the things is so tedious.
One other kind of collectible is a golden hat that triggers a “Balan’s Bout” sequence. It is a QTE mini-game through which Balan soars by the sky, punching rocks and generally preventing the principle antagonist (though with the shortage of story context, I concluded he was the principle antagonist largely as a result of he seems in these sequences and infrequently drops a mini-boss in your path). Your success determines what number of bonus drops you get, and in the event you hit each QTE immediate completely, you get a Balan Statue. You don’t get a “retry” possibility, although. Should you miss even a single good button press, you’ll want to depart the world, return and discover your approach again to the hat, after which strive it once more if you would like the statue. There are solely a handful of variations of Balan’s Bouts, so that they get fairly monotonous. By the tip, I used to be discovering a number of Balan’s Bouts in every world, which made their lack of variation much more noticeable and tiresome.
I can’t assist however think about how significantly better Balan’s Wonderworld would really feel if it was designed in another way. Think about in case your three costumes have been every mapped to a face button, so you may use your three outfitted powers at any time. Think about if as a substitute of an enormous variety of barely completely different costumes, you had a smaller lineup of costumes with upgrades or variations primarily based on the world. Think about if the hub world really had extra issues to do, or if Balan’s Bouts didn’t repeat the identical few variations again and again. However that’s not the sport we bought, and wishing it was gained’t do any good. Efficiency on the Change model struggles at occasions, often not sufficient to hinder gameplay, however with a number of components that reached egregiously unhealthy body charges.
Balan Wonderworld isn’t all unhealthy. The cutscenes are completely beautiful, the music is nice, the psychological premise is intriguing, and I actually just like the designs for Balan and his nemesis. There have been occasions after I had enjoyable enjoying this sport, like after I’d get a brand new costume with a cool energy or spot a Balan Statue and understand what I wanted to do to achieve it. But it was all the time solely a matter of time earlier than the sport would hit me with yet one more tedious design choice that would go away me asking, “However why? Why design it like this?” That sums up my expertise with Balan Wonderworld. It has some attention-grabbing concepts, however the variety of tedious design decisions finally drags it down.
The Last Phrase
Balan Wonderworld isn’t a horrible sport, however it isn’t a great one, both. Should you’re a diehard fan of 3D platformers and also you’ve run out of higher video games to play within the style, you would possibly get some enjoyment out of Balan Wonderworld, however provided that you’re keen to place up with numerous tedium alongside the way in which.
-MonsterVine Ranking: 2.5 out of 5 – Mediocre