Wildermyth splash screen for a Beta release

Wildermyth Review: Gorgeously Deep

This Wildermyth review provides my experience playing this fascinating game over a ten-hour period. I played Beta 0.12+106, Pixle Masterson.

Wildermyth is a new character-driven, tactical roleplaying game developed by Worldwalker Games. The game is currently in Steam Early Access.

Preface

Two people.
Two talented people.

Anne Austin, artist.
Nate Austin, programmer.

Together,
they are Worldwalker Games,
a small, independent game company
from Austin, Texas.

Together,
this husband and wife developed a rich,
character-driven, turn-based
roleplaying game.

That’s wild!
That’s Wildermyth.

Two Wildermyth Features

Two features set Wildermyth apart from other party-based RPGs with tactical, X-COM-like combat: 1) the visual/aesthetic choices and 2) procedurally-generated characters with depth.

1) Visual/Aesthetic Choices

Visually, Wildermyth is a beautiful game.  The hand-painted 2D character models and scenery are cartoonish and welcoming. In fact, the dialogue and story are told with comic book panels.

The Land is Wrong. Note the poetry in the second panel: “A whisper of wrongness, rustling my mind like a bird rustles leaves.”

Combat takes place in glowing, papercraft dioramas.

Papercraft Combat

Both approaches to the visual style are uncommon and comforting. It’s like being a child again, exploring the public library. Picking up your comic book subscription at the hobby store. Placing miniatures on a grid. The aesthetics of the game make it approachable for all ages.

Much effort was put into making the How to Play information concise and visually appealing.  The screen provides information on most of the key subjects.

How to Play Screen – Legacy Points

2) Character Depth

Characters are procedurally-generated. They have their own background history, personality, and appearance. This adds greater depth to the interplay between the characters and the narrative events. Read the background story of each character on the History screen, for example. As you play, the game appends to the story.

On my first playthrough, the game only added one adventure to one character. I think there is room for improvement. The game could catalog more adventures.

Customize Shyldelle Bearpins!

Customize the appearance of each character at any time, if you want.

Characters age and retire. They change appearance based on strange and dangerous adventures. For example, one character may have blue, Gorgonoid stone on half her face. Another character one may have a blue gem for an eye. Still another may simply lose a hand.

Each character has his or her own personality. Indeed, on the Aspects page is a list of every aspect of the character with modifiers and brief descriptions for each.

Crystalline Character Aspect

Character Relationships

Characters form relationships as you play. For example, two of my female characters had a romantic relationship. Nothing was explicitly said about this in dialogue. In fact, the developers stick to the show-don’t-tell rule of story-telling. You get hints they are fond of each other. They are together in scenes. Other than that, you need to look at their Relationships screen to see they are romantic.

In one sad scene, the two women must say goodbye because one was leaving the group to study as a Woodland Seer. They handled it quite well, I thought.

My Affection: Shye and Shyldelle Say Goodbye

Characters start with one of three main classes: Warrior, Hunter, Mystic. Characters level up and gain new active or passive skills. As you play they will gain armor and weapon upgrades. Materials gained from clearing territories and winning battles are used to craft better gear. Looted and crafted gear displays on the paper characters. That’s a nice touch.

Rising Threat

Everything done on the overland map moves the clock forward some. If you build up defenses for a territory the clock moves ahead. If you build a bridge to reach another territory the time advances. What does that mean? Basically, the threat of enemy calamity cards, infestations, and incursions increases.

Overland Map

No matter what you do or how long you take there will always be a rising threat of incursions, otherwise, the game would not end. Your actions can only slow the impending threat.

Calamity Cards Dealt Over Time

Keep Going

Delaying the inevitable is basically the crux of the game (as is real life, right?). Scout new territories. Fight battles to control the new territories and obtain Legacy points. Use Legacy points to recruit new heroes, build new stations, and cancel calamities and incursions. Also, for efficiency, split your heroes to handle multiple issues at once.

On my first playthrough, I didn’t pay attention much to the rising threat. As I said, there is only so much you can do. I did what I wanted. I kept my team, Ruse’s Reavers, together. They built bridges, dug in defenses, and entered battles together. I couple of times I used Legacy points to stop enemy calamity cards. However, once I saw that the points were needed for recruiting new members I held onto them.

Tactical Turn-Based Combat

After a territory is scouted, the characters can choose to undertake an assault mission to gain control. A mission is constructed. Each character has a turn and then each enemy goes. Abilities have point values and characters use their abilities until turn points are gone.

I like that combat has modifiers for flanking, adjacency (called, “walling”), and cover (partial and full).

Warriors get an overwatch ability, called “Guardian.”

Hunters have a Silkstep ability, which allows them to enter the Grayplane, becoming invisible. In the Grayplane, hunter attacks ignore enemy armor.

Mystics have the Interfuse ability, which allows them to interfuse with an object on the battlefield (a free action), and then use an associated ability against an enemy. For example, if a mystic interfuses with a wooden object, she gains Splinterblast. The Splinterblast ability explodes a selected object in a blast of splinters at the True Gorgon.

Don’t Judge By Size

Because of the small, papercraft battlefield, the combat space is intimate. That means that most encounters are fairly short with three to eight enemies. The combat seems simple. However, characters have few health points and a single enemy turn can change the outcome. Do not be lulled into thinking each battle is easy. Take a breath before each move to review your abilities/options and make the best decision for that turn.

Interfuse Spell Bug? Nelly is interfused with three objects!

Early Access Issues

Later, around the seven-hour mark of my first game, a harrowing battle ensued in which my two mystics got their magics hung up. Each mystic interfused with a battlefield object but was unable to use the related attack skill or Withdraw the connection. I can’t say if this was due to my misunderstanding of the game or a bug. These mystics were my strongest ranged fighters who could not respond to the wave of slobbering and heavy-footfall threats. That battle felt unfair. I wondered if the Withdraw action worked at all. Earlier, I had tried the action several times and it did not work as I thought it should.

Unfortunately, that same battle, my fighter injured his legs in Corrupted Ground and fled–hobbling, ostensibly–for his life.

What else can I say? Oh, the Raccoons are bastards. They throw thorns of crystallized fluid! Best to take them out first, if possible.

Replayability

The procedurally-generated characters, territories, battle maps, story events, and enemies truly offer great replayability value.

You can add your favorite heroes to a roster of legends and recruit them in later playthroughs.

There is so much in Wildermyth that many playthroughs are required to see most of the game. I’m sure mods will also extend it even further.

Conclusion

Wildermyth is a wonderful game from a small indie game studio. The comic book story events and papercraft battle scenes are beautiful and make it approachable for both young teens and adults. The turn-based tactics and character development has real depth. In fact, the character development adds to the emergent narrative and emotional experience. It is reminiscent of games like Rimworld, Crusader Kings 2, and Fire Emblem: Three Houses, which have character traits, moods, and preferences.

As described above, I did run into a couple of issues with the game that hopefully will be fixed before release.

I recommend this game for players that appreciate character depth, and fans of party-based, turn-based tactics games (that respect your time).

I was able to learn the basics of gameplay fairly quick and there are many nuances to grasp in later playthroughs. It’s great to have an excellent, approachable game with procedural content generation and all the gameplay benefits it can provide, without being overly repetitive or the least bit bland.

Genre: Turn-based RPG
Developer: Worldwalker Games LLC
Publisher: Worldwalker Games LLC, WhisperGames
Release State: Early Access Beta
Release Date: 2020?
Current Price: $19.99 on Steam
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Review Version: Beta 0.12+106 Pixle Masterson
Review Platform: Windows 10 PC

Thanks for reading this Wildermyth review! The devs are busy working toward the 1.0 release. Wildermyth will likely release this Spring 2020. Wishlist it on Steam.

Does this game look interesting to you? Have you played Wildermyth some already? If so, what has been your experience? Let me know in the comments below.

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Ernest Scribner
Ernest Scribner

Practitioner of games. Caster of words. Shares game wisdom, stories, and shenanigans with fellow adventurers.

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