Wildermyth (PC) Review

We’ve been promised dynamic storytelling in video games, akin to the tabletop role-playing experience, a hundred times now. Does Wildermyth finally make that a reality?
Wildermyth Header

Wildermyth – developed and published by Worldwalker Games – is a party-based, tactical-combat game with plenty of role-playing elements and procedural storytelling. In broader terms, it offers a dynamic story that expands the longer you play, with a lot of RNG encounters and meaningful player choice, with bouts of turn-based tactical combat and hero upgrades.

With several lengthy campaigns to tackle, characters you can promote to “Legacy” status (if they survive), and dozens of dialogue choices or tactical decisions that alter both the state of the game world and combat conditions, there’s no shortage of potential adventures that await you. Better still, most will feel like a unique experience.

Each villain-focused campaign has several fixed story beats (allowing for some flexibility if you fail certain events) but the time spent between these encounters is masterfully handled by a dynamic story system that pulls from hundreds of encounters, picking those best suited to your current party of heroes, taking into account their relationships (rivals, friends, and lovers). Some feel better written or more meaningful than others, sure, but after several campaigns and a dozen hours of procedural encounters, they rarely felt out of place.

wildermyth-scenarios
It feels as if the developers moved from strength to strength, with each subsequent campaign featuring better writing and pacing.

The dynamic, unfolding narrative – which fleshes out all your heroes and instills them with individual personality – is both the best and most stressful mechanic in Wildermyth. When it comes to time-limited objectives, managing all these diversions is tough. Especially if, like me, you feel compelled to tackle every “opportunity” event. However, these events ensure you grow attached to your heroes, your choices feel meaningful, and every campaign feels unique. It is an impressive system and I hope larger developers can learn a thing or two from Wildermyth.

The basic gameplay loop involves traversing a world map, making decisions during key story moments, engaging in bouts of turn-based combat, and upgrading both your party skills and gear. You gain experience and gear from each battle, which is spread between party members. At each new level, you unlock upgrades (random but appropriate for your class) and assign gear to your heroes. If you take the time to clear, research, and fortify locations, you can generate crafting materials, which can then be used to create new items or upgrade your gear in towns.

wildermyth-upgrades
It’s not just a gamified choose-your-own-adventure book. There are a ton of deep role-playing elements to manage and gear to craft.

Your party grows organically through encounters or recruiting at towns, and you can field multiple parties to simultaneously pursue the main quest and defend the lands from enemy incursions. Scouting, travelling, fortifying locations, building bridges or mountain paths – it all takes time and the days march ever forward. With several time-sensitive missions and the constant ageing of your heroes, you’re always on the move.

Between chapters, your characters experience periods of “peace”, which both progress time and introduce new random events. There can be weddings, the birth of children, opportunities for heroes to leave and pursue other goals, and even story modifiers if you failed a prior event. You could, of course, reload to an earlier save but it’s far more exciting to watch events play out and roll with it (there’s a toggle to force this approach). Survivors of each campaign – fully intact or maybe maimed – can go into your legacy pool and feature in new adventures.

wildermyth-map
The world is large and takes time to navigate. As you spend time questing, your foes grow in power and periodic incursions threaten your liberated regions.

If this sounds stressful, you can rest easy knowing the progression of time and balancing your priorities is all part of the experience. As time passes, regions can become more overrun, while monsters become more varied and stronger (represented by stacked ability cards).

It creates an interesting trade-off: if you advance rapidly, you can strike at entrenched foes while they’re still weak and limit the number of incursions you need to defend against. On the other hand, if you spend time fortifying locations, grooming another party of heroes, crafting gear, and levelling up your primary heroes through optional encounters, you’ll have a powerful roster that is ready for anything. It feels well balanced and both options are viable.

Combat accounts for a lot of the experience, but it’s fast, fluid, and streamlined (though still tactical). Each hero slowly gains new abilities and better gear, allowing for more refined or aggressive strategies. All your characters take their actions before the enemy turn – following the typical “one move, one attack” formula – so moving your party into a defensive formation and hitting priority targets first is key to survival. That said, pre-combat choices and hero relationships can grant buffs or penalties that make a tangible difference.

combat
Combat should be familiar to fans of other turn-based games. Careful positioning, gambling on chance-to-hit, and deciding when to use powerful abilities are all part of the combat experience.

I enjoyed my time with Wildermyth playing solo but multiplayer was introduced before launch. It doesn’t drastically change the experience as you can only explore a world with procedural events. That said, it’s always useful to have another pair of eyes (and a brain) watching enemies, hero status, and calling out priority targets. All players have the ability to command every character and make story choices (you’ll see a visual representation of their cursor position). Unfortunately, with no way to assign heroes or a vote/dice-roll system for choices, it feels a little underdeveloped. If you’ve got friends that enjoy robust discussion around tactics and story choices, it might feel close to a true tabletop experience.

Regardless of whether you’re reading a story panel, traversing the world map, or in battle, Wildermyth’s visuals are a combination of functional and phenomenal. The 2D papercraft-style sprite-work, simple but expressive animations, and comic-style framing all look great and convey more emotional weight than I had expected (a combination of great writing, detailed panels, and backing music). The world map, UI, and combat-overlay are more functional, but they display the information you need clearly. The orchestral soundtrack feels authentically medieval and always generated the perfect mood to complement each story beat. All things considered, the presentation is both distinctive and memorable.

stories
Every narrative panel – whether related to the main quest or a dynamic encounter – feels well-written and expands on your hero’s identity (and the writer is even credited!). It means you’ll be doing a lot of reading but these events are crucial to the “write your own story” premise.

Given how I kept going back to Wildermyth every time I worked on this review, it’s easy to recommend to fans of RPGs and turn-based combat. With tweakable difficulties, story progression that supports multiple playstyles, and a ton of diverse content, Worldwalker Games have finally created a dynamic storytelling experience for everyone. It helps that it’ll run on almost everything and the gamepad support is decent (though wonky when switching between distant characters or navigating menus). For other developers out there interested in advancing storytelling mechanics, Wildermyth’s system should serve as the baseline for future work.

A review code for Wildermyth was provided to Gameblur by the publisher

Wildermyth Review

Wildermyth Review
9 10 0 1
Wildermyth has a bit of everything, for everyone, and does it all with style. There’s the organic and dynamic storytelling that makes each hero and campaign feel unique. There are deep role-playing elements and hero upgrades. There are stunning papercraft visuals and a beautiful soundtrack. Some gameplay elements might feel too streamlined, but it’s a small price to pay for such an incredibly varied and content-rich experience.
Wildermyth has a bit of everything, for everyone, and does it all with style. There’s the organic and dynamic storytelling that makes each hero and campaign feel unique. There are deep role-playing elements and hero upgrades. There are stunning papercraft visuals and a beautiful soundtrack. Some gameplay elements might feel too streamlined, but it’s a small price to pay for such an incredibly varied and content-rich experience.
9/10
Total Score
  • Story
    9/10 Amazing
    It's not offering expertly-directed cutscenes, yet the dynamic, varied, and meaningful comic panel encounters felt more impactful over the course of an adventure than any "AAA" production.
  • Gameplay
    8/10 Very Good
    Though streamlined, the turn-based combat, random events, abundance of player-choice, and impactful outcomes will keep you hooked.
  • Visuals
    8/10 Very Good
    The combination of papercraft style world and dynamic, expressive comic panels perfectly fit the living storybook premise.
  • Audio
    9/10 Amazing
    Orchestral, fantastical, and authentic, complementing every battle and story beat

The Good

  • Fluid dynamic storytelling
  • Great writing with some emotionally resonant events
  • Streamlined but tactical turn-based combat
  • A unique visual style and a great soundtrack
  • Tons of content and the promise of more to come

The Bad

  • Playing with a gamepad can feel cumbersome at times
  • Multiplayer integration could be expanded
Total
27
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