HomeReviews2.5/5 ReviewWhateverland Review

Whateverland Review

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Welcome to Whateverland! A dark, gothic town whose inhabitants are stuck there, eternally prisoned as a punishment for annoying a witch. 

Whateverland is a point and click adventure game that begins very promisingly with an intriguing narrative. Our protagonist, Vincent, is caught stealing a necklace from the witch, Beatrice, and is banished to Whateverland. Here he meets a half ghost, Shakespeare lookalike called Nicolai (Nick) and together they go on a quest to find the scattered pieces of a spell that can be used to summon Beatrice in order to beg her to leave.

The pieces of spell are each owned by a different resident of Whateverland, and by accessing a map of the town you can choose who to visit. The game is non-linear – you can visit people in any order and if you get stuck persuading one person to give you their piece, you can try your luck with another and go back at a later date.

To get the pieces of the spell from their owners you can choose to take one of two paths – either be a good boy and help the person with a task, such as making them the perfect bowl of ramen or fixing their dodgy ventilation, or you can turn to the dark side and simply steal the spell piece by breaking into their safe – Vincent is a thief after all. 

whateverland review 1
What path will you take in Whateverland?

The path you choose will ultimately decide the ending of the game. This nifty feature is one way that Whateverland is unlike other point and click games and is a brilliant device. If you get stuck on one path there is sometimes, although not always, the option so you can progress in the game. It also means that if you feel inclined, you can play the game again and choose a different path, discovering new puzzles that you missed the first time around.

In the ‘bad’ route you will use your kit of lock-picking tools to break open various elaborate safes. This is a steep learning curve because at no point are you told the function of each tool; you are just expected to figure it out yourself (something that features heavily in the game). 

There are four different tools, with each one having a particular function, including a tool that acts as a screwdriver and a little hammer that breaks things. We must admit to having to resort to a spot of googling to figure out more than one of these puzzles, mostly as there are some things that we would never figure out on our own. 

In the ‘good’ route you play mini games that involve a puzzle-solving aspect. One of these games saw us sorting fish at the market by following increasingly complex rules about which fish are kept, and which are discarded. In another we had to play a few levels of an 80’s style 16-bit beat ‘em up. 

As with the safe puzzles, these are also of the ‘fiddle around and see what happens’ variety, which is pretty frustrating and led to controller-stabbing annoyance more than once. Plus, there were a few bugs that meant having to quit the puzzle and start again. On more than one occasion a bug meant that part of the puzzle was completely unsolvable – a good job there were two different routes to choose from.

whateverland review 3
Puzzle variety is good – when the game doesn’t bug out

Choosing the ‘good’ route does take longer to complete and requires talking to the residents of Whateverland a whole lot more. This is the part of point and clicks that can drag, especially if the script and voice acting isn’t top notch. 

Whateverland gets a solid ‘meh’ in this regard. It tries to be funny but only occasionally hits the right notes and the voice acting is mediocre at best with the worst being Vincent who has a bland, monotone voice to the point that one suspects this is some kind of inside joke (and there is a joke in the game alluding to this). However, we must admit that Vincent and Nick as characters did grow on us a little as the game progressed, with their love/hate relationship becoming quite amusing.

If you have played a point and click adventure before, the controls will be very familiar. You can look at objects, interact with them and pick some of them up, where they are stored in your inventory. Clicking on an area will make Vincent walk and double pressing A will see him break into a jog. It is easy to miss objects you can interact with but holding down RB will show you where these are. And when moving the cursor around the screen it will stick slightly to them like they have a small gravitational pull.

The difference between Whateverland and other games of this genre though is that objects stored in the inventory are rarely used. You might have to pick something up to give to another character, but when you do it is very obvious what you need to do. There is no need to try to use every item in your inventory with every interactive object on the screen when you are stuck to be greeted with a ‘that doesn’t seem right’ in this game, which comes as a refreshing addition.

In order to progress in the game you will have to take part in a few matches of a strange board game called Bell & Bones, which can either be a welcome distraction from the main game or an annoyance – depending on your point of view. Even though you are given a tutorial on how to play, it feels overly complicated and we just couldn’t be bothered. If we wanted to play this type of game we wouldn’t be playing a point and click. There is a ‘get out of jail free’ card though. By collecting yarn balls scattered around the town, you can invoke “The Paw of God”, and let a cat win the game for you, ultimately freeing you from the cursed game.

whateverland review 2
Dark and grimy

Whateverland is dark and grimy – the town is stuck in a never-ending night. It is animated in 2D comic-book style complete with occasional speech bubbles (which annoyingly can’t be skipped like the main dialogue). Music features heavily in the game – you can tell that a lot of effort went into this with the main soundtrack comprising of jaunty, slavic-style folk music. However, we did find the music a little distracting and repetitive when trying to complete puzzles (probably because they were taking us so long to figure out), opting for the mute button on more than one occasion.

It’s games like Whateverland that remind you just how hard it must be to design a good point and click adventure, which is why highly rated ones are so rare, and why so many people despise the genre. Ultimately it is hard not to compare it to the classics that defined this genre – namely Monkey Island and Broken Sword.

Although Whateverland brings some new ideas to the genre – the choice of routes being the main welcome addition – it just doesn’t reach those heady heights. Vincent is lacking the charisma of a Guybrush Threepwood, the jokes fall flat and you don’t get much of an opportunity to get to know the other characters – not that you’d really want to. 

Add to the mix the lack of instruction for the puzzles and the annoying bugs means that Whateverland isn’t somewhere we’re going to be rushing back to.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Choose your own path
  • A diverse mix of puzzles - when they don’t crash
Cons:
  • Plenty of bugs
  • Puzzles need more instruction
  • Voice acting and dialogue doesn’t excite
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Drageus Games
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC, Switch
  • Release date and price - 22 September 2023 | £TBC
Gemma Young
Gemma Younghttp://www.snapshotscience.co.uk
I'm a part-time gamer and a full-time writer of science-y things. On the few odd occasions that I'm able to wrestle the Xbox controller away from the avid gamers in my family, I enjoy spending time playing puzzle and adventure games.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Choose your own path</li> <li>A diverse mix of puzzles - when they don’t crash</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Plenty of bugs</li> <li>Puzzles need more instruction</li> <li>Voice acting and dialogue doesn’t excite</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Drageus Games</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC, Switch <li>Release date and price - 22 September 2023 | £TBC</li> </ul>Whateverland Review
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