With a bright and colourful 3D open world, some good old-fashioned point and click navigation, and whimsical charm, Alterego Games’ Woven has all the ingredients for the perfect family-friendly experience.
Developer: Alterego Games
Previewed on: PC
Release Date: TBC. Currently on Kickstarter
While the game is just about to kick off a new Kickstarter campaign in the hopes of securing further financial backing, there is already a working demo which has been greenlit on Steam and I’ve had the opportunity to play through it. As both a parent and a gamer, I’m always looking for games that not only I’ll enjoy myself but can also include the children in the experience. If the demo is anything to go by, Woven definitely fits into that category brilliantly.
The game takes you on an adventure into a world made up almost entirely of fabric, populated by living stuffed animals. This knitted environment sets the scene for a puzzle-based excursion with two unlikely companions, a stuffed elephant named Stuffy and a robot firefly by the name of Glitch. The two must work together and head into the soft and cuddly world around them in search of answers surrounding the origin of Glitch, seemingly the only metallic object in this woolly world. As they delve deeper into the mystery of Glitch’s beginnings, they discover that unknown dangers lurk beneath the soft surface.
With an intriguing set-up like that, it’s unsurprising that Woven is very much a story-driven experience, mapped out superbly with the help of a wonderfully voiced narrator with rhythming skills that Dr. Zeus would be proud of. With each new discovery, with each puzzle to solve, you can be sure there’s some cleverly scripted dialogue being delivered by the storyteller. In addition to some perfectly toned voice-over work, the ambient soundtrack for the game adds to the enjoyment, somehow simultaneously providing a serious tone and yet remaining light and relaxing.
The open world environment is a joy to explore, the bright colours and soft edges are reminiscent of the early days of PlayStation, think Spyro and Bandicoot with a 21st-century makeover. This combined with the impressive stitching detail on everything adds volumes to the overall experience, it’s genuinely fun to just wander around aimlessly. The visuals, in general, are surprisingly good, with impressive draw distance and character models which move fluidly throughout the game.
There’s a very traditional feel to the controls of the game, the point and click navigation and WASD camera controls are easy to master, again making this game even more appealing to the younger gamers. While testing out the demo I had a little play around on a Windows 10 touchscreen laptop and there is definitely room for these controls to be developed for the tablet market without much alteration.
The mechanics of the game, however, far exceed the basic navigational controls. Customisation plays a big part in the gameplay and I feel like I only got a small taste of what’s to come playing the demo. Very early in the game, you’ll come across a machine, a bit of a metal eyesore on the bright backdrop actually. What is interesting is that Glitch has the ability to power up the device and once he does you have the power to fully customise Stuffy.
While out on your on your adventures, Stuffy and Glitch will meet a number of different creatures which the firefly will ‘scan’. Once scanned, the characters body parts can be recreated and used on Stuffy as part of the customisation. You can give Stuffy any combination of body parts you like and further customise the look by changing the fabric pattern. While there are a couple of different patterns to choose from the start, many more can be unlocked through collectibles you obtain during your adventure.
If that wasn’t enough, the different body parts actually have abilities attached to them. Using Rabbit legs, for example, will give you the ability to jump and overcome one of the first puzzles you’ll come across. There are an impressive array of features available here, and this is just the pre-Alpha demo I’m talking about.
Overall, Woven genuinely surprised me. Looking at the teasers going in, I didn’t see myself enjoying it quite as much as I ended up doing. There’s a hint of those colourful family-friendly games I played many years ago mixed with an interesting concept and well-designed story. Despite the simplicity of the controls, the game is far from simple, the puzzles are fun and the extensive customisation options add thought-provoking gameplay as you work out the best combination of body parts to give Stuffy. I’m honestly looking forward to seeing the final product.
Woven will be hitting Kickstarter on Wednesday, September 7 along with a playable demo available via Steam. For more information on how you can support the game, head to the game’s official site, their Facebook page or Twitter.