There are times when the creative mind of the humble game developer should be lauded with praise, maybe even seeing statues built in their honour for their work building worlds and becoming creation experts. With Weakless, the thought process behind this imaginative game, and the game world itself, has been delivered in moments of genius. However, there are times when it leaves the gamer wanting more, feeling a bit unfulfilled.
Weakless is highly original, beautiful and makes me smile. That’s a fact and there is absolutely no disputing it. It’s an indie puzzler that puts you into a new wondrous world and allows you to follow along with a unique wordless story. You play as two characters in this game, both at the same time; two main protagonists who are part of an imagined species called the Weavelings – a sort of humanoid tree-like creature. One of these guys is deaf and the other is blind so when you switch between them you get very different viewpoints on the world; the deaf character seeing the world in full colour, and able to clamber up onto ledges, utilising a special yellow orb on his head which helps open pathways to areas. The other character – the blind one – sees the world in black and white, using his staff to create sound so he can audibly map the surrounding area. You switch between characters with a simple hit of a button, controlling each character individually as and when you see fit.
The gameplay in Weakless consists of guiding the characters through this magical world. You can move around as normal, but there is no jumping or combat to be had in the game, and instead you will need to solve puzzles to progress through the environments. It is here where the switching between characters can help that progress. For example, you might come across a barrier of plants that needs removing. Using the deaf character you can climb onto ledges, before making the most of your special orb power to open the barrier so that the blind character can walk through. Or the blind guy will be able to pull blocks along to open barriers, creating walkways for his deaf friend to traverse across. The whole mechanic works great throughout the entirety of Weakless and ensures that it is an innovative way to play the game.
The puzzles themselves have been interestingly designed and are made so you won’t be scratching your head for too long or wandering around aimlessly. The game’s world is stunning at times too; utterly fascinating to explore. The deaf character is a painter and throughout your time with this duo will start drawing little sketches in his notebook of the things he might see along the way. It’s a lovely idea, and by selecting options from the menu you can view these at your leisure. It’s a nice option to have too, as Weakless is pretty short and will only take you around a few hours at most to complete. And that’s a huge shame as it never feels quite long enough in the context of the overall experience, mainly because the world is so intriguing to spend some time in.
It is because of this that Weakless doesn’t quite fulfill it’s potential. There are also some problems with camera angles and the swapping mechanic between the two characters isn’t quite as smooth as it should be, with some minor technical glitches. There are also moments found in specific sections in which it would have been great to see the development team go into more depth, furthering how to tackle puzzles using both characters. In fact, it would be great to see this game working alongside some cooperative lines with both characters being controlled locally or online, but then I guess that would perhaps take away some of the switching mechanics that are used so well.
Continuing the negatives and there are also some problems found in the pacing, especially toward the last third of the experience, where the game deliberately slows down the character’s progress in the narrative. Frankly, Weakless becomes a bit unbearable to play through at this pace.
Visually the game is a delight though, mixing both the worlds viewed in colour and black and white perfectly. The creature design and that of the environments is highly original and ever so creative in its output. But again, I would have loved to see more of this world taken in across a bigger narrative. The sound design is integral to things though, particularly in the way the blind character works his way through with different musical instruments to play. This is complemented by the soundtrack – it brings this unique and melodic world to life.
From my first moments with Weakless on Xbox One, I really wanted to love the experience. The world, characters and unique gameplay see this come across as the type of game that I adore, and it cries out to be just that. However, whilst the gameplay is good, the running time is very short and it doesn’t do quite enough to live up to its full potential; at times it feels like a beta playthrough for a much bigger game or idea. There are small glitches and camera problems too, and these obviously don’t help matters, but thankfully the visuals are stunning to behold. Overall, if you want to try something unique then it’s just about worth giving Weakless a try.