Review code provided by Drageus Games. This will have no bearing on my review, opinion or recommendation.
Every now and then I get the opportunity to review a truly spectacular game. A game that fails in such resplendent fashion, that I struggle to find even the slightest redeeming feature beyond the fact that it manages to lug it’s useless husk of a frame into activity when you select it from your home menu. These games fail to instill any semblance of joy, satisfaction or meaning upon which you can even begin to justify continued play. The limply named – WeakWood Throne is one of those games. And no, I don’t know why the ‘W’ in wood is capitalized, nor do I know why there isn’t a space after weak.
You play as an unnamed mass of pixels whose goal is undetermined. You are standing on a lifeless island with no context beyond a message informing you to pick up a nearby stick. This is a key moment in the game’s gripping plot, as picking up the weapon hurls you down an epic path of disappointing proportions, whilst refusing the weapon allows you to save valuable time and turn the game off. I of course took the plunge and wrapped my meaty fist around the surprisingly sturdy shaft that comprised my new weapon, and set off on my quest…I think.
You see there really is no context to anything you are doing. There is no story – no reason – to do anything in Weakwood Throne. Sure you might grab a quest here and there from unassuming NPC’s, but these are simply weak excuses to engage in the game’s core system – combat. If you are expecting any world building from these encounters, you will be sorely disappointed. These are nothing more than the most basic of fetch quests, with the most limited of instructions. Randomly find a location, collect or kill a thing, return. That’s it.
This wouldn’t be too bad had the games combat actually been deep, engaging or even slightly better than sleep inducing. WeakWood utilises the tried and tested ‘twin-stick’ combat system, meaning you move with one stick, aim with another and whack your enemies with the designated button. This innocuous control method has been around since the dawn of gaming, however WeakWood Throne still manages to cock it right up. While the mechanics of moving and aiming function, actually attacking is a struggle the likes of which I have never seen before.
The reason for this is the god awful hit detection. You see when it is a struggle to get the game to register your swings against an inanimate object such as a sunflower, alarm bells start to ring rather loudly, quickly followed by the fear of actual combat. It can take anywhere from two, to five swings to defeat your photosynthesising foe, which is tedium incarnate. Trying to hit a walking, talking lizard-person wielding a hammer three times your size is a nightmare. It doesn’t help that most enemies take a serious pounding to kill, and your swings inflict minimal, if any, hitstun forcing you to implement hit-and-run tactics, with your hits registering only half the time (at best).
Things only get worse when the enemy starts twocking you on the bonce in return. You have access to a handy-dandy dodge roll, but this little maneuver has the reliability of your flaccid batting arm. You could perform what appears to be the perfect dodge, only to get hit for no discernable reason. But that’s not all, as enemies also come prepackaged with a hefty amount of tracking, meaning you could dodge behind the enemy, and they will miraculously do a 180 spin, and krunk you on the dome like you were stationary the whole time.
Combat gets easier as you progress thankfully, although this has nothing to do with the games combat mechanics improving over time. No, things get easier thanks to the games rudimentary RPG mechanics. As you complete quests and kill enemies you will gain experience points. Gain enough and you will level up. Upon leveling up you can spend a couple of attribute points to improve your base stats, whether that be strength, dexterity, health etc. It’s basic, it’s boring, but it works.
Another avenue of power garnering is through the acquisition of equipment. Buy a new beatstick and you will see your damage numbers go up noticeably. Stronger weapons will require higher stats, which means you will have to do a bit of grinding from time to time in order to wield that dope cleaver. Actually acquiring items and equipment is a pain however due to what can only be described as developer oversights. For example, you are unable to see how much gold you have in your coin purse whilst shopping, which is baffling, but you also don’t get basic information such as whether or not the weapon you’re about to buy is actually better than your current piece of kit.
These niggling little irritations permeate the entire experience unfortunately. There is no map screen making exploration incredibly irritating. The signs that scatter the overworld cannot be read, making it impossible to know where you are, or where you are going. The minimap is almost completely non functioning as it constantly displays your character in the middle of the ocean, regardless of the landmass you may be standing on. These little things build up to make a boring game a thoroughly unpleasant one.
The game doesn’t hold up graphically either. Nowadays a minimalistic, or basic looking game is quite fashionable in the indie scene, however these games typically complement that basic look with style or some semblance of pleasantry. WeakWood Throne manages to nail a basic and simultaneously ugly style that continues to throw nails on a coffin that could never be opened again. Oddly enough the music is almost decent, albeit repetitive when playing. Equally mysterious is the frequency in which it plays – which is every five minutes or so leaving you in silence for minutes on end. Sound effects don’t quite meet the below average standards of the music however, and are as “stock” as you could possibly imagine.
WeakWood Throne is a game. Not a particularly good game, but it at least succeeds in functioning. Beyond that, the game failed to instill any sense of joy and drained my will to play it from the word go. This is a game that is simply not worth your time and is best avoided, even with its bargain bin asking price.
Toast Seal Of Disapproval
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