Wandersong: We Found the Bard!

Wandersong is a rhythm-based action platformer developed by Greg Lobanov and published by Humble Bundle. It released on September 27, 2018, costs $20, and is available on PC, PS4, and Nintendo Switch. I played the Switch version.

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Basically, if you took all the D&D bard jokes and made it into a video game, you’d have Wandersong.

But as funny and whimsical as it is, Wandersong also managed to be a game full of creative ideas, surprisingly fleshed-out characters, and a heartwarming story.

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The game revolves around you, the bard, singing your way through everyone’s problems and saving the world. The right analog stick opens up a “music wheel” giving you an octave’s worth of notes to belt out. Initially this means following typical rhythm tasks like repeating the notes you hear. But soon enough your singing will allow plants to grow in specific directions (helping with platforming), a crew of pirates to navigate the sea, and groups of bugs to obey you. With each chapter comes at least 2 or 3 different uses for your singing, a kind of Mario Bros. approach where an idea gets introduced, tested, and cast aside for the next one. I was impressed with how many different uses the developers made for just singing.

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The bard himself is the cinnamon roll of a character that you’d expect him to be. He’s chipper, he’s a pacifist, and he just wants everyone to be happy. You embark on a quest to learn the different parts of the Earthsong from the Overseers (giant spirits) to prevent the universe from falling apart. Your companion is a sullen teenage witch who taxies you from town to town as you find the Overseers, but just as you start making progress you encounter an antihero who’s trying to kill the Overseers. The three main characters learn to deal with competing ideals, the price of failure, and a sense of belonging. Each chapter is also filled with subplots and mini-arcs, and the stakes ramp up significantly by the end.

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The finishing touch that makes this a new favorite of mine is the writing. When NPCs have actually interesting things to say, I love talking to them and seeing what funny / poignant thing they’re going to say next. Wandersong delivers incredibly well with its dialogue. The citizens of the various cities and towns that you help along the way become fun pieces to a well-written whole. The humor is also incredibly well-timed for being a game with no voice acting.

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Overall I highly recommend this for anyone who likes action platformers and is dying for something fresh. You’ll certainly get some here.

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