Game Reviews

Wanderer: War Song

Star onStar halfStar offStar offStar off
Wanderer: War Song

Many games have toyed with the idea of reducing the entire gameplay experience to a series of epic boss fights.

Shadow of The Colossus and the Monster Hunter series excel at this approach, delivering complex, well-executed battles that challenge your mind and reflexes as you devise a strategy sound enough to bring you out on top.

Wanderer: War Song tries the same thing, but it fails miserably in almost every respect.

Ambler: Battle Ballad

Like Monster Hunter or Shadow of the Colossus, Wanderer: War Song doesn't waste your time with grinding through levels of disposable random encounter enemies. Instead, it jumps right to the good part: the grand, sweeping boss fight at the end of the level.

Unlike those other two games, however, War Song takes the unique approach of providing absolutely no context or backstory for who you are, who the enemies are, and why you've decided to introduce the vulnerable parts of their anatomy to your sword.

You just select the boss fight you want to attempt from the main menu and watch a clunky cinematic that shows your character being surprised by said beastie. Once that drama is over, you engage in a decidedly less-than-epic duel to the death. Unfortunately, your patience is likely to expire before your opponent does.

Should you somehow prevail, you're treated to another ponderous cinematic of the boss monster being dismembered, disemboweled, or having its day ruined in some other before "Victory!" flashes on the screen and you're unceremoniously dumped back into the main menu.

Peregrinator: Combat Chanson

For all of the faults with the (lack of) narrative, it's ultimately the shoddy controls that break Wanderer: War Song and render it nigh unplayable.

In theory, it's a two-stick game with the left virtual stick controlling movement while the right stick controls the camera.

This tried and true control scheme works well in the console world, but sadly the touchscreen controls for War Song aren't up to snuff. The movement from the left stick is fiddly at the best of times and is completely inadequate for the intricacy that the battles require of you.

Attacking and blocking are, again in theory, simple affairs: you swipe on the screen to attack and double-tap to block.

But it's clear that not a lot of attention was paid to input in general, and hit detection in particuar, as your swipes are only sometimes registered. When your character does deign to swing his sword there's a good chance that it'll pass through the enemy without doing a lick of damage.

Worse still, the stick to control the camera angle is located smack in the middle of your 'special abilities' slots, which leads to you wasting special attacks or healing abilities as you try in vain to grapple with the camera.

Drifter: Assault Ditty

There are two positive thing to be said for Wanderer: War Song.

First, it looks great. The Unreal Engine 3-powered graphics are easy on the eyes, and the flat arenas that the battles take place in are sure to be eye-pleasers despite their monotonous lack of terrain.

Secondly, Wanderer: War Song honestly tries to be an interesting and engrossing game - it just doesn't try hard enough to justify its $4.99/£2.99 price tag.

In time, and with a mountain of updates, this might be an enjoyable game for those looking for a Shadow of the Colossus-alike on the go - but for now it's best avoided.

Wanderer: War Song

Gorgeous graphics and a desperate desire to be like Monster Hunter don't compensate for simple gameplay and clunky controls