You lead your tribe on foot. Wandering helplessly through a decaying world as resources and hope dwindle.
You have no home or shelter. Before you, the ground shakes and before your eyes, you see your salvation rising from the toxic ground in the form of an ancient, lovable and frustrating giant named Onbu.
You take your tribe aboard Onbu and embark on a journey through many different biomes, each with different benefits and challenges to manage as you attempt to optimize your new colony and its relationship with its host.
My first 30 minutes in the wandering village
At first, your establishment and Onbu will look more like colleagues who have just met and speak different languages.
You do your thing, and they do theirs.
However, as your camp gains a foothold, stacks up resources, and establishes a research center, you can slowly start investing in other ways to interact with Onbu, and your relationship becomes more symbiotic. In this dying world, you can’t survive without Onbu, and they can’t survive without you.
As you develop more complex ways to take care of your villagers you also create more ways to take care of Onbu, make sure they get enough rest, throw food at his mouth with a trebuchet and even control Onbu’s digestive system or use their giant… excrement.
As you gain more confidence with Onbu, they will be more likely to listen to your commands, whether to walk, run, which direction to walk, or to stop falling asleep in such toxic plumes.
The wandering village gameplay
With any city builder, the name of the game is management and optimization.
The Wandering Village has a lot to contend with, even right out of the gate in Early Access. One of the first things that will appear is that while you have enough space to give yourself creative freedom in the back of Onbu, your space isn’t infinite.
As your village grows, you will need to re-optimize dwellings, warehouses, farms, etc. to adapt to it. Along with the normal city-building resources you can expect (water, food, medicine, villager happiness, etc.), you’ll also deal with toxic plumes from the world you wander through. This toxicity not only poisons your settlers and hurts Onbu, but will also spawn poisonous plants in and around your village that you’ll need to deal with quickly or things can get ugly.
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Managing where Onbu sleeps or how fast they move through an area can help mitigate this. Your tech tree also offers a few solutions.
Wandering Village UI
I appreciate the effort that Stray Fawn Studios put into creating a functional user interface. There’s all the information you need to manage your settlement, but not so much that it’s overwhelming.
At a glance, you can see temperature affecting crop yield, air and soil toxicity, Onbu’s current heart rate in beats per minute, and much more. It’s very utilitarian, but if you need more depth, you can just click through the UI drop-down menus and get all the information you want.
One thing that was unnecessary but made me happy in my gaming experience was the smooth transitions in viewpoint and zoom levels.
With a quick scroll of the mouse wheel (or assigned hotkeys) you can switch from the world map, to an enlarged village view that shows all of Onbu and your town in all its glory, to a functional top down bird’s eye view. of your village, then finally an up-close and personal horizontal look at you, the villagers and the town.
The transitions between each are very satisfying, and I love how close you can zoom in. It gave me as a player a sense of connection to the world I was building and shows off the beautiful details and art style of the game.
There’s a lot to enjoy for an early access game here.
The dynamic 2.5D art style, UI experience, Norse throat-singing soundtrack, and just Onbu, in general, come together to make The Wandering Village a city builder worth exploring. be played right now. I’d love to see things like a more expansive tech tree and more random encounter variations as you walk around the game in the future, but that’s the beauty of early access games.
Stray Fawn Studios seems eager to hear feedback and open to suggestions when it comes to the roadmap, but they’ve also been careful to release a game with a focused vision and enough content to keep fans happy right now. Something I can’t say about many early access releases.
I’m excited to pop into The Wandering Village every time there’s an update to see what’s new. If you liked games like RimWorld or Frostpunk and want a healthier experience, I encourage you to try The Wandering Village on Steam or Xbox.