Moments of head scratching are rarely infused with any frustration, and moments of success are air punchingly excellent.
Version Reviewed – Xbox One
Wuppo is one of those genuinely surprising games that crop up from time to time. On the surface it appears to be a childlike jaunt through some classic platform and puzzling action. However, the more time spent in its utterly charming company, the deeper it becomes.
First things first though, let’s lay some foundations.
In the beginning there was a Wum (that’s you that is). This particular Wum, a creature of few defining features save a slight resemblance to a small fluffball, had become a self-indulgent, self-serving creature, prone to ice cream consumption and annoying the landlord of the living space it resided in. The Wum (the one we get to play), begins this tale promising said landlord character that there will definitely be an upturn in consideration for others, and no more ice cream spillage, before then trailing a melted trail of vanilla right back to its room. Our Wum is banished into the wilderness of eviction via a window, lands unconscious, is robbed, and then takes the first baby steps in rebuilding its splintered life. Deep eh?
When the game proper gets underway, what initially appears to be a well worn platforming road, quickly ventures off down some of the much more interesting, and curious, tracks that litter this wonderfully imagined universe. Before we know it, and without really even realising, we are immersed deep in a tale of friendship, redemption, and big hearts.
Having a strong immersive story to tell however, is nothing if the gameplay falls flat. So, it is with great pleasure I can report that Wuppo suffers very few problems. This is generally one slick game, vital of course with a puzzling platformer that requires precision to progress. The controls are tight, yet still offer a feeling of airiness when controlling the main character, as though our protagonist is light and floaty.
Early on in the action we are given a weapon, a sort of gun that fires paint splat like projectiles, or jets of flame as additional elements are acquired, it proves vital in destroying blocks and baddies when traversing the land, and again is very simple but effective to control.
Along the journey there are various collectable items to be gathered, these can then be utilised via an easy to navigate menu. Said menu also opens up various other options, such as letting our Wum whistle, and control is very straightforward. Some of the items that dot the landscape can become slightly blended into the colourful backdrop graphics, and this can on occasion become a little frustrating, but these moments are few and far between on the whole.
One other issue I found, but that was almost certainly down to my lack of skill, was that I failed to load my save game properly, began the game further back than I should have and then accidently slipped into a save pot, thus wiping out the progress I had made previously. A foolish mistake, but like I say, one that was easily avoided.
One thing any game of this ilk simply has to do well is balance puzzle difficulty. Wuppo hits this absolutely spot on. The puzzles in place vary from simple to genuinely challenging whilst always keeping both feet in the land of logic, or, as logical as things can be when piloting a curious fuzzy creature around an outlandish world. Moments of head scratching are rarely infused with any frustration, and moments of success are air punchingly excellent. This means the game never grates upon the player, making the whole adventure a joy rather than a chore.
It’s fair to say, Wuppo, is an accomplished game, a beautifully polished affair with enough charm to draw in the hardiest of player and keep them hooked for its fifteen to twenty hour stay. However, the true star atop the Wuppo tree, actually comes from something besides the gameplay. What creators, Knuist and Perzik, have built here in terms of the world and the creatures that inhabit it, is simply stunning. There is a true depth of history to this place that players get to slowly dig into during the adventure. Early on we meet an elderly inhabitant of the land, he tasks us with finding an old filmstrip, upon which hide some details of the days gone by in this world. As the journey moves along, more of these old films are gathered, and the world is fleshed out further still. The amount of time spent building something of substance is undeniable. Then we have the weird and wonderful characters we meet along the way. Wuppo contains a solid amount of chit chat, but it’s never dull, never crying out for a skip button, and again adds layer upon layer to an ever growing world.
It is this storytelling aspect that kept me playing beyond all the other excellent elements of the game. I’m a sucker for stories, and the one being told here is a simple beauty.
Wuppo is a deceptive game. It looks childishly innocent, yet reaches depths many other games fail to see. It is a game about friendships, about redemption, about doing the right thing, it is a game that will charm and challenge in equal measure, and it is a game that will leave you smiling. In all honesty, what more can we ask? Or maybe it’s just a game about guiding a largely featureless little blob across a puzzle filled land of platforms and pitfalls. Either way, it’s been a blast!