For Your Consideration - Wildermyth
Quelm Grip, my party mystic, had been having dreams. Every night once a year, on her birthday, she could feel the existential doom of a curse creeping through her veins – she was damned to die. After one such night, she gathered her things, roused her longtime friend Onlec Gamling, and set out in search of answers.
These stories, and many more besides, are what make Wildermyth such a special RPG. What makes it all the more wild is that it isn’t really a hand scripted experience. Sure, the words were pre-written, but Quelm and Onlec were my own procedurally generated characters, travelling across a procedurally generated continent, on a side tangent that made me more connected to these digital people than even some 100% authored RPGs can only dream of.
Wildermyth is part grid-based tactical RPG, part roguelike, and part storytelling game. There is a main overarching narrative, of which the main through-line is (I suspect) relatively set, yet the considerably hefty run time of 10+ hours for a playthrough is generated in a roguelike fashion. There is a world to explore in the form of moving tiles around a map, uncovering new landmarks and clearing out the monsters prowling the land.
Battles are played out much like a Fire Emblem map would, but on a smaller scale. Your handful of heroes – fitting the classic trifecta of melee, ranged and mage – traverse the tiles and use abilities to deal with enemy creatures of all stripes. The tried and true archetypes have their own unique spins, however, thanks in large part to the cleverly intertwined skill set of each class. Magic is the most unique: instead of simply casting a fireball, mystics “infuse” with objects in the environment, calling upon the properties of the object to then cast spells. Infusing with a table will offer the option to create a splinter bomb, while a rock can create a discus that rebounds off several enemies.
The tactics are both simple enough to get your head around easily – all numbers are fairly small and the pool of abilities minimal – while also being incredibly deep and satisfying to master. Even during a single playthrough, it’s easy to see how much potential the multitude of builds offers, on their own and in conjunction with other characters.
This is where the procedural element really kicks in, and why when this game comes to Switch / I get my hands on a Steam Deck, I’ll be dropping off the face of the earth for a few months. Wildermyth works 100% as a single, play through once kind of experience, as well as a game you play dozens of times and get very different experiences out of every time. And it owes it all to the characters.
Each hero relates to others in your party in different ways. For mine, Onlec was lovers with Gulla Castles, while being the closest of friends with Quelm. As more members are recruited and your party expands, the web of relationships blossoms, and leads to what feels like bespoke pre-written relationships. The genuine love felt between Onlec and Gulla is so heartfelt, when Gulla was struck down and infected with a strange crystal deformity, the first thing running through my mind was wondering how Onlec was going to react.
The writing across the board is simply exquisite. Most of the story interstitials happen before and after combat, whether it be banter between the characters, crucial world-shattering information or simply snippets of heavily atmospheric worldbuilding. It feels like not a single line is wasted, evoking such a tantalising taste at a fully realized, living, breathing world.
Wildermyth does so much, and what’s incredible is it does every single thing at such a quality that it ups the base level for all games by default. From its wonderful writing and urgent moments through to its extremely satisfying tactics combat, there’s just so much here to love. If it had just one of these and the rest was simply OK, Wildermyth would already be an easy recommendation, but the fact that all of it is just that good?
All I can say is this: do not sleep on Wildermyth. GOTY material right there.