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Wanderer – Steam PCVR Review

Reading Time: 6 minutes
Wanderer Review/Accolades Trailer on YouTube

Fast Facts

Wanderer
Developer: Oddboy & M-Theory
Publisher: Oddboy & M-Theory
Website: https://www.wanderervr.com/
Genre(s): Adventure, Exploration, Puzzle
Platform: PC – Steam VR (also available on PSVR and Oculus)
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 27/01/2022
Price: £30.99

A code was provided for review purposes

Not All Who Wander Are Lost, but I Got Lost in Wanderer

Virtual Reality games need to do a few things for me to captivate my attention. There needs to be immersion in the world, which usually combines visuals and sound into the story, as well as being able to interact with the world around me. The other thing that VR games need to do to hold my attention is to give me that ‘one more thing’ to keep coming back to, albeit a gameplay loop, enthralling environment, or an engrossing story. Wanderer, which launched in January 2022 on PSVR, Steam VR, and as a native Oculus game (which is where I played the game using Steam VR and my Meta Quest 2) checks all of those boxes for me.

Entering Boston in the distant future.
Entering Boston in the distant future.

A Different Future

Wanderer casts you in the shoes of Asher Neumann on a journey across time and space. His mission is to uncover a lost past by means of an apocalyptic future. The gameplay loop is simple. Using artifacts scattered across various areas through time you need to unlock puzzles in a time-hopping escape room of sorts.

The game opens as you maneuver your boat through hostile environments, warding off an alligator and a few villagers. Afterward, you are directed to Asher’s grandfather’s abandoned apartment. From there you navigate ever-more complex and creative puzzles. Wanderer requires not only outside-of-the-box thinking, but outside-of-time manipulation is possible and necessary for progression.

Interact and talk with characters across a variety of time periods.
Interact and talk with characters across a variety of time periods.

Inventory Management Across Time

One of the first items you will find is your grandfather’s watch, Samuel, which you wear and find very helpful for saving inventory items and navigating multiple times through history. Using Samuel and the artifacts you uncover you can hop across time and learn more about historical points in time.

You will jump to an alternative history moon landing, visit Nikola Tesla, view a video interview with Amelia Earhart, a Mayan temple under siege, and more. Within each area, you need to find tools that you can take back to other time periods with you to solve puzzles and unlock other items and artifacts to find your missing grandfather and restore the future to its correct timeline.

A Mayan ruler talks about an incoming army.
A Mayan ruler talks about an incoming army.

A Gorgeous Masterpiece in VR

Visually, Wanderer is one of the prettiest experiences in PCVR that I have played. There are moments that rival Half-Life Alyx in terms of visuals and immersion. There are multiple items that you can pick up and interact with or use in solving puzzles. Oftentimes you may uncover solutions and secrets in one time period that won’t become needed until you visit a different time period altogether. This multi-time and space-solving puzzle mechanic makes Wanderer unique in the approach it takes to figure out solutions. There are a few puzzles that I remember that take solution queues from a poster in the background, or a notebook, or something said in a dialogue option. The way you solve puzzles in Wanderer is wholly unique and very well done.

Along the journey you will encounter a variety of people with whom you can interact, some are simple interactions asking why you are there or what you are doing, but other key characters have full voice acting and animations that accompany their in-game character. Sometimes these characters will unveil more of the story, their time period, and alternative history, or give hints to what you need to do next. Speaking of hints, you can always activate Samuel to fly around and give you a hint, though sometimes he sarcastically responds to you and the items in your possession.

Play the drums in the band at Woodstock.
Play the drums in the band at Woodstock.

A Future Changed by Its Past.

Due to the time-skipping nature of Wanderer, there is a variety of audio as well that helps to draw in the gamer as they warp through time and space. The effect of time-hopping for instance has a warp speed aura and boom to it that will shake your ears each time you jump using an artifact. From the silence of space to the radio tunes playing in the WW2 bunker, to the rock concert in New York, or the overgrown jungle of Boston in the alternate history, Wanderer does a great job of drawing you in with its soundtrack. 

Items in the game you find as well are all well-articulated some with multiple uses, like an RC Car which later was used as a remote-controlled bomb. Early in the game, I found a fishing rod that allowed me to fish for an animal I needed to be turned into a poisonous weapon later on as well. These micro-immersive bits seemed like minigames we have all played many times in VR, but Wanderer’s spin on them came with a welcome twist.

Tesla's many machines are a part of the puzzles you must solve.
Tesla’s many machines are a part of the puzzles you must solve.

Move Through History in Unique Ways.

Wanderer has a variety of settings for both computer performance and movement, which many people will enjoy having. Having options to either smooth location or snap turning and teleporting are all welcome here. There were some in-game moments that required you to line up a specific way to jump or climb through windows. You will also encounter ladders that use a button prompt for climbing. While those times were slightly jarring, they were few and far between and were not too immersion-breaking.

Wanderer on PCVR through Steam is an amazing game. There’s a lot here in terms of gameplay hours, things to do and play with. Wanderer has a great story and direction in terms of traveling through time and space. If you have a PCVR, PSVR, or Quest 2, I would recommend picking up the game and jumping into Wanderer. I highly recommend the game to anyone looking for a single-player story campaign.

Rapid Reviews Rating

gold score

4.5 out of 5

4.5

You can read our VR game reviews over at vrgamecritic.

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