Developer: Alterego Games
Publisher: StickyLock Studios
Genre: Action, Puzzle, Adventure
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 15/11/2019
Price: £17.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
Playing as a stuffed woollen elephant, aptly named Stuffy, with a broken leg, you wander alone in a quilted, patchwork land. Coming across a metal firefly, Glitch, and forming an unlikely bond, they explore the woollen world overtaken by metal beasts. Glitch needs his memories back, and they need to find out what happened to the rest of Stuffy’s kind. Did I enjoy unravelling this mystery, or did I want this game to get stuffed?
Searching for answers
The story focuses on finding out what has happened to this world; why is Stuffy alone, what is Glitch’s purpose, and why are giant metal spiders causing havoc? For a clumsy but kind-hearted Stuffy, and a focused Glitch with an unknown attraction to the moon, this is their common goal. A narrator relays the tale to us in rhyming fashion, adding to the whimsical atmosphere with his calming, typical British accent.
One of the first things you find is a strange metal machine, which turns out to be a knitting machine, perfect for fixing Stuffy’s broken leg. But this is not the only machine strewn across the land! There is also a musical machine, and after playing a rhythm mini-game on it, you are rewarded with a blueprint.
These blueprints can then be used to change Stuffy’s form into other animals, mixing and matching body parts to gain new abilities, and customising them. These blueprints and customisation elements are collectables, which I’ll talk more about later on.
This then spurs the need to find out why these machines are here, alongside metal bugs and insects, carrying out automated tasks. I enjoyed finding out the reasons behind this and could happily play the game for hours at a time! Without giving away any spoilers, I personally never would have guessed what was going to be revealed, so I found it incredibly unique. It could also be quite dark at times. Paired with the narrator, you could sit back and enjoy the cut scenes, finding out the secrets behind this land.
A Woollen Wonderland
I loved the aspect of having everything made of wool, seeing the stitches run through each landscape with different colours and patterns. You actually go through multiple worlds or biomes, such as the jungle or the beach, so you get a variety of colour palettes which are all equally as bright and colourful. They also have their own wildlife like turtles on the beach or armadillos in the desert, so it was great to see a variety of environments. I found the turtles’ button eyes adorable!
This is then accompanied by different soundtracks to match each biome as well as the atmosphere. It’s whimsical and wondrous when you’re wandering through the forest, yet tense and foreboding when you’re trapped in the stomach of a spider! This, alongside the story and the world, immerses you and gives a great ambience.
However, I feel like the Switch graphics really don’t do the beautiful world justice. The screenshots I’d seen online looked so clear, but the Switch has a strange fuzzy effect around the edges if you can see from my pictures. This is less noticeable when you turn the camera to zoom in closer on Stuffy, but it is a shame, and I wonder whether other platforms are the same. My game also crashed two times when I wasn’t doing anything particularly strenuous.
As much as I like the worlds, I also found that traversing them could be frustrating, mainly as they were rather big. There were a lot of invisible walls which weren’t consistent, so you could go up some hills but not others, or you would get halfway before it stopped you going further.
You are also quite slow and don’t unlock wings until a couple of worlds in, which make you a lot faster. There are also not many pointers of where to go or what to do either, so you can spend quite a lot of time wandering aimlessly. Maybe some sort of map or hints given by the narrator could prevent you from getting stuck or lost!
Stuffy’s many forms
As mentioned earlier, one of the collectables are blueprints, which could be any animal from a rhino to a flamingo. Their body parts would have a series of abilities, like punching and jumping. These would be required to complete puzzles or travel around the map, and you could do whatever combination you wanted. A cat’s head with a squirrel body, gorilla arms and bird feet, that’s plenty of abilities to prepare you! I thought this was such an interesting concept which is a selling point of the game besides the excellent story.
Luckily, there are knitting machines regularly through the game, so if you come across a puzzle that needs a specific ability, there should be a machine nearby. To use the abilities, you hold the bumper and choose which one you want with the joystick (left for Glitch’s, and right for Stuffy’s.) A symbol will appear above you when you reach somewhere that needs an ability, which is handy! These are the only controls besides movement and camera control, so it’s easy to pick up.
Other collectables include colour options, found on items and animals to give you many shades or patterns. Glitch can scan them, and then they will be ready as a customisation when you use the knitting machine. They’re not only to look pretty but to disguise yourself against enemies! There are caves to be found and collected, Glitch lighting them up to reveal bright cave paintings. Last but not least, are Glitch’s memories, helping you learn more of his past.
You would think with so many collectables, you would be able to replay the game. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. You can’t even return to a previous area, and you don’t know until you’ve triggered a cut scene that you’re going to move on. With many pathways and no clear way to go, it’s easy to run into the main objective and miss out on collectables. For me, that almost defeats the point of them. It doesn’t give you a reason to go back to the game, as you won’t be able to use any of the collectables you acquired in a new game.
An unforgettable adventure
Despite the flaws, Woven is still a game worth picking up if you can as it’s so charming. The story is unique, and you never know what’s around the next corner. Glitch and Stuffy have an adorable friendship, the juxtaposition between the beautiful woollen hills and the rusted metal machines imaginative. Even though I’ve mentioned a few problems, I still enjoyed the game, and it kept me hooked!
Rapid Reviews Rating
If you would like to buy Woven for Nintendo Switch, you can pick it up here: https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Woven-1673821.html#Overview
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.