The Wanderer: Frankenstein's Creature Review
Reviewed on Nintendo SwitchAlso available on PC, Android, iOS, Apple Mac and Linux
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a groundbreaking novel, the first science fiction work and one of the most iconic and retold stories of modern times. It has had many an adaptation from screen to stage and a surprising amount of video game adaptations. The Wanderer: Frankenstein’s Creature, from La Belle Games, is the latest in this plethora of media surrounding the Gothic tale.
In this heavily narrative-driven puzzle game, you play as Frankenstein’s newly created creature. The story is told through his eyes, as he navigates his newfound existence, questioning this mad world he has been thrust into; taking a lot from the lengthy section in Shelly’s book told from the creature’s perspective.
The world is absolutely stunning and I would say is the biggest strength of the game. The watercolour backdrops are beautiful and the interactive element in certain sections of the game are really well thought out, with colours emerging as you do interact with the environment, or simply revealing detail as you move the creature through a scene. The design of the creature itself was simple but effective.
The soundtrack as well was rather beautiful, however, I was a little bit let down, purely because as you start the game, it recommends that you use headphones. Now if I am given this prompt, I am expecting it to pay off. A similar prompt is given in Hellblade, and it immediately pays off as you hear the voices in Senua’s mind echo all around you as you play, it is so effective in immersing you fully into the game and her mind. With The Wanderer, perhaps the music did sound better through headphones, but there was no point in the game that made me think, ‘Boy am I glad I have my headphones in now’. I feel if you are going to make such a point of telling the player to have headphones in, make it worthwhile.
Although the game is absolutely stunning I never felt overly engaged, the game, whilst somewhat faithful to the source material, felt a bit flat, especially where the gameplay is concerned. I would have honestly preferred it without the odd little puzzles that didn’t really have any impact or point to the story. The first puzzle I encountered was painfully simple and didn’t really make sense narratively. A lot of the gameplay felt like it was shoved in to make it feel more like a game and less like a point and click story. But with the gorgeous art-style and already great source material, would that have been so bad?
But perhaps the element of the gameplay that frustrated me most was the element of choice that was scattered in every so often. I did not really understand why this was the case and the choices were so few and far between that it didn’t really feel like there was any weight to them.
The biggest and most disappointing thing for me was that I couldn’t finish the game. This game has been released on PC and mobile prior to the Switch and I really think the developers needed to spend more time making sure it was actually playable on the Switch. Because, in my experience, at times it is actually unplayable.
I had a few issues at the start with controlling the creature. At first, I put it down to being a choice to enhance the narrative, but as I progressed I came to realise there was something wrong. The first instance was when I ended up surrounded by angry villagers with the choice to ‘retaliate’ or ‘roar’ I chose ‘roar’, they scatter. I tried to run away and I physically could not move to where I needed to go, the creature kept turning back in the opposite direction to where I moved the Joy-Con stick. I tried rebooting the game three times, checked my Joy-Cons and finally, resorted to looking at a walkthrough to see if I did something wrong. This is when I realised there must be a bug in the game, as I see the walkthrough doing the exact same thing as me, but managing to move freely around this area. I reboot the game again and choose the different option ‘retaliate’ which I did not want to do (this ends terribly, narrative-wise), but lo and beyond I can progress.
This strange movement bug kept happening, making it excruciating to move the creature to get items I needed. I would have to twirl around, madly pressing ‘A’ in an attempt to interact with the object I could barely get to, and it all came to a crashing halt when I physically could not get to a corner of a room I needed to in order to complete the level. I rebooted the game countless times and it would not work, again, I looked at a walkthrough to see if I was doing things in the wrong order and I was definitely not.
After a few more attempts of me trying to move to the corner, and the creature continuing to turn away, I was left defeated, and I have to say a little bit angry. I understand bugs are a thing, but it is so disappointing when I couldn’t actually finish the game, and if, by some miracle, I reboot it again and it works, this happened so often during the game, it took me out of the narrative too often and made the game so infuriating to try and play.
I am aware this is just my experience with the game, but I did take the liberty to look up some other Switch reviews to see if similar things had been said, and there have been a few reviewers who have said similar things. Some even tried to play the game on a range of different Switch consoles and came across this movement bug time and time again, so this is not an isolated issue with my copy of the game.
Overall, I do feel like The Wanderer: Frankenstein’s Creature has its merits and it could have been a good experience. However, with a price point of £13.49 on the Nintendo E-Store I feel that this game should be at least playable on the console it has been ported to. So to conclude I would stay away from purchasing this game for the Switch, and perhaps seek it out on the other platforms to get a better experience.