From the first teaser trailer dropping Wanderer is a game I was keeping a close eye on. The mention of finishing off what someone else couldn’t, the talk of time travel and the different locations shown – it seems something that could get true use of what VR can offer. Now, I have had the chance to time travel, did it live up to my expectations?
In the game you are put into the shoes of Asher Neumann, starting off in an apocalyptic timeline in search of your grandfathers lost apartment, and his mysterious artefacts that are hidden within. You are soon joined by a talking wristwatch, as you learn you can traverse time and space, the question is can you change the course of history?
When it comes to the gameplay, on a basic level the Wanderer is an escape room experience, with some hands-on action thrown into the mix. But, what makes the game so special is the approach the team have taken with solving these puzzles.
They have done this by using the time travel elements to great affect, which will see you visiting a number of locations between 1525 – 1969. On these travels you might need items from one time-frame to solve a puzzle in another – for example you might need an item from the games version of Woodstock to solve a puzzle on the Moon Landing. It’s really hard to speak about the puzzles without giving things away, but I can honestly say this is some of the best VR puzzling I have seen to this day, and each puzzle feels unique from light puzzles to deciphering codes.
You might be asking; but how can I take something from one time-frame to another? This is done using the aforementioned talking wristwatch – who really gave me vibes of Tik-Tok from Return to Oz. Not only is he good company on your travels, but also is your inventory, which allows him to hold items from one era as you jump to the next. As you start out he can only store one item, but around the levels you will find a gem that allows you to increase his storage space up to the total of five spaces – which does really help reduce the amounts of jumps you have to do. The final use of the watch is you can ask for help if you are stuck, doing this will see him give you hints but not really hold your hand in how to solve the puzzle – more just a slight nudge in the right direction.
The final element of the gameplay being the hands-on action, that sees you holding off attacks in some of the eras, using bow and arrows, guns and also solving puzzles to thwart their attempts. Where the real appeal of this game is amazing puzzles, these little sequences do give you a little break and the weapons all seem to handle well.
It’s really is hard to put into writing how well the gameplay is done, and it is really something you should experience for yourself.
As soon as loading into the opening scene of Wanderer the visuals struck me straight away for all the little details and how crisp they looked inside of the HMD, and this was dropping them down from ultra to medium to reduce the demand on the system. They really have used the games mechanics of time travel to allow them to design a number of locations from central America to Germany, with all of the them looking just as impressive as the other. With all the little details on the different characters you meet and interact with throughout the game being taken into account – keeping the immersion levels high whatever era you are visiting.
They then carry on this solid work with the audio design, with the main part that keeps you immersed in the world they have designed being matching the correct ambience and music with the era and scene you are visiting. Mixing this with solid voice acting for the characters, it’s easy to see the love the team have put into making the Wanderer universe.
When it comes to PCVR, at the moment that game can only be played standing, but they are going introduce the seated mode available on PSVR further down the line. Outside of this they have included all the required comfort options to make it playable never mind the level of your VR legs. Allowing for smooth or teleport locomotion, smooth or snap turning and vignettes.
When it comes to the controls you are mainly just going to be using the grab button to interact with items. However, the game does use the similar traverse method as Half-Life: Alyx, with a button being used to climb through windows and dropping down off ledges – which isn’t used often enough to break your immersion from the game. Other than this everything else is just doing with the general interaction of using your hands to press buttons and interact with objects.
It took me just over ten-hours to work through the game, with me doing the first nine-hours of it in one day, and returning the next day to finish off the last few chapters. I really enjoyed every second spent in the game, and for this reason can see me returning to it at a later date and going through it again. But, even if I felt I couldn’t give it another playthrough, I would be really happy with the ten-hours the game has given me, which exceeds a lot of story-driven VR games playtime.
Reviewed using Meta Quest 2 with Link Cable
For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a review code provided by the company or their respective PR company. The use of a press code does not affect my judgement of the product.
From start to finish I enjoyed my time in the Wanderer, and can honestly say this is the most compelling VR game I have played since Half-Life: Alyx, and is the first VR game in a long time I have played a nine-hour session in one day. From the awesome feeling of time travelling to different eras and each of these locations looking beautiful, with a story that keeps you engaged and the best puzzling to this day. With it being planned as a three-part adventure, I can’t wait to see how the team move forward and build on this – and find it really hard not to recommend picking up the Wanderer as soon as you can.