Wally and the Fantastic Predators
Developer: Oscar Gonzalez
Publisher: Oscar Gonzalez, Cool as Heck Games
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Fighting
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on PlayStation and Steam)
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 21/07/2022
A code was provided for review purposes
With the immense influx of roguelikes in the last few years, it is challenging to get excited about one unless it genuinely changes the available offerings. However, the trailer for Wally and the Fantastic Predators immediately captured my interest with its bright colours and seemingly responsive gameplay. Did the title live up to my expectations? Or was I left looking for something else? Find out in this Rapid Review.
Once I got into the game itself, I was immediately thrown into combat. Instead of developing lore or explaining the circumstances of my character, I learned the basics of the game in a brief tutorial and then was sent right into the game. This worked excellently for me. I liked both the emphasis on gameplay and the layout of the tutorial. The tutorial covers the most significant aspects of the game, but to truly master it, I had to experiment with the different assets myself. This made the game accessible and approachable while also encouraging exploration and experimentation.
Moreover, the mechanics were largely simple but had a lot of room for growth. Wally and the Fantastic Predators features a traditional dodge-roll, a gun, and plenty of upgrades to acquire. The movement was responsive and easy to understand. Plus, while some upgrades were simple, many were distinct and drastically altered the way I played the game. For example, one item awarded me practically unlimited money while reducing my max health down to a quarter of a heart. Many other items were just as divisive. The eccentric items made each playthrough interesting and kept me engaged in the game.
The combat was also impacted by unlockable items. While I began with a traditional automatic weapon in each run, I could obtain new weapons. There were not as many weapons as there were items, but they helped differentiate each run. The weapons wildly impacted a playthrough. On some runs, I could leverage a shotgun and take out enemies from close quarters. In others, I would stand further away with a minigun. Though this sometimes made a run feel fruitless, it also helped me feel powerful in others. Despite not having as many distinct weapons as I would have liked, each new playstyle was a lot of fun and I enjoyed exploring the feasibilities of each.
While the guns did not provide as much variety as I had hoped, Wally and the Fantastic Predators features multiple ways to differentiate each run. For starters, after most rooms, I could decide which type of room I would like to explore next. Though this is typical of most roguelikes, it was interesting here, as if I did not explore a room, I would not be able to revisit it. This meant that if I skipped a store or interaction with a certain non-playable character, I may not be able to revisit them. This added a significant amount of strategy, as sometimes I had to decide between multiple options that would benefit me.
Additionally, there were some rooms that had additional challenges and the developer even included a mechanic where I could increase the strength of enemies for a reward. I liked how much control I had over the game, and if I did not want to increase the amount of risk on a run, I did not have to. These run tailoring options helped keep me engaged in the game and helped me tailor the game to my taste.
Multiple Game Modes
Additionally, the developer of Wally and the Fantastic Predators includes multiple difficulty modes. Not only are these carefully crafted, but the developer explicitly states the target audience of each. There is a casual mode, a normal mode, and two harder modes. Plus, in addition to that, there are instant gratification modes that encourage fast-paced gameplay. Not only did these modes keep me interested in the game for longer, but they were balanced. All assets in each mode were altered to keep the identity of each character while adding difficulty. These modes add well-thought-out content and do far more than face me against foes that deal more damage. The variety in modes, as well as the corresponding descriptions, helped me tailor the game to my taste, bettering my experience and keeping me interested in the game longer.
The game also kept me engaged because the enemies are cleverly designed. While there are a decent number of distinct enemies, I was not blown away by the quantity. Instead, Wally and the Fantastic Predators focuses on creating specific enemies that work well together and fit the theme of the game. For example, one level had me going through an area infested with spiders. These spiders would not deal damage directly but would spread webs that slowed me down and made general progression more difficult. However, if a dragon shot a fireball at a web, it would ignite, potentially dealing damage. These clever interactions kept me intrigued in the game and made the enemies more engaging. While my favourite interaction was certainly that one, I enjoyed each enemy and combined, they give Wally and the Fantastic Predators a unique identity.
Although many elements in the game are distinct, the level design was extremely similar both from level to level and run to run. I would always fight the same bosses, take out the same enemies in the same section of the dungeon, and go through the same areas in the same order. This was one of the biggest downfalls for me. I would have liked to see additional bosses or more unique level assets within areas that made each level stand out from other levels within an area. Even though I wanted a little bit more stage variety from run to run, the item variety and multiple modes helped keep me invested and interested.
Moreover, there were a few sections that did not run well. Two levels consistently and substantially slowed down my gameplay. While it may have been intentional, it seemed like the game was slowing down because it was lagging, and I felt disappointed by my lack of control. Apart from a few other instances of slowdown, overall, the game performed well. This was not the most significant issue, but it was frustrating every time it occurred.
Furthermore, I liked the visual style of Wally and the Fantastic Predators. I got to explore some interesting and unique locales which helped make the game stand out. Unfortunately, I also noticed a lot of repetition in the visual style of consecutive levels. Despite enjoying many of the environments, without distinct landmarks and assets, I became familiar with the sprites quickly. This meant that the initial spark of excitement when I reached a new location slowly dwindled as I consistently revisited the same locales.
Wally and the Fantastic Beats
On the other hand, the music was fantastic, and I never found myself growing tired of it. Regardless of how many runs I went on, it kept me motivated, positive, and excited to dive back into another run. It was surprisingly jazzy, which I did not expect to enjoy as much as I did. This distinct musical theme made Wally and the Fantastic Predators memorable and distinct from other roguelikes. I liked it a lot.
Overall, I had a great time with Wally and the Fantastic Predators. I liked the variety of items, the combining enemies, and the atmosphere of the game. While I would have liked to see more enemies and stage assets, I think the available package is a lot of fun.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4 out of 5
You can purchase Wally and the Fantastic Predators on the Nintendo eShop here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.