Some of the most mechanically and conceptually refreshing city builders come from the minds of independent development studios, like Erik Rempen’s Kainga. Stray Fawn Studio is now taking its own signature creative approach to this subset of games, focusing on the idea of symbiosis between people and the enigmatic avatars of life. The Wandering Village offers a complete course in strategic city-building, management, and survival delight, and while it’s visually stunning, it still needs moving forward.
The Wandering Village has you leading a small tribe of people who stumble upon a colossal mythical creature called the Onbu. It is so huge that its broad back can carry an entire city and the terrain is so lush that you can farm and grow trees in patches of prairie. In addition to building a successful city, you will be wandering around a mysterious land, while facing all kinds of dangers, such as extreme weather and toxic spores.
If the concept of building a city on top of a gigantic, wondrous creature doesn’t immediately appeal to you, The Wandering Village’s top-of-the-line presentation will certainly do the trick. The art direction is distinct, with bright, vibrant colors capturing a sense of awe-inspiring.
Animations are smooth and fluid for all the people and buildings in your village, and clothing helps distinguish employed workers compared to general workers in your town. The music is sublime and changes dynamically depending on the terrain that Onbu traverses, although these tracks repeat themselves a bit too much.
The developers have also successfully established a strong enough foundation for the city building core to keep you engaged and involved in the development of your mobile settlement. The challenge of collecting resources, setting up logistics chains to process basic items into more advanced forms, and heading into the uncharted world with scavengers gives the game a nice steady pace, as well as an exciting low-tension level to watch. if your town and city can survive the next impact.
Managing food production is perhaps the most fun in The Wandering Village. Each type of food responds differently to changes in the weather and adapting your farming setup to better suit various environments is totally satisfying.
They have even introduced cacti as a type of plant that acts as an alternative source of water rather than just another type of food, which shows how creatively the developers approach the tropes and core mechanics of city building and management games. . There’s certainly room to introduce even more unique food types and fresh interactions, as well as production chains, but what’s here is a great starting point.
The Wandering Village has plenty of gameplay hooks to lure you in, but not enough meat to leave you wanting to come back and play multiple races. It’s in a similar situation to Shiro Games’ Dune: Spice Wars in that it’s off to a solid start, but hasn’t evolved into a game that realizes its full potential, at least in its current Early Access state. .
A big reason you’ll be left wanting more is the game’s shallow tech tree. For a game that oozes creativity from its captivating concept and clear visual design flair, the tech tree doesn’t offer much to shore up the longevity of the basic sandbox mode. It’s very easy to research all the techs you’ll need in the mid-game and some you won’t need at all due to their unbalanced negative implications.
Replayability is another current weak point. While The Wandering Village is marketed and presented as a sandbox with constantly changing weather and climate due to a procedurally generated map, this system isn’t impactful enough to significantly change your approach to building your village. This ties in with the relatively shallow tech tree, as well as the lack of Onbu types and terrain designs that can further spice up each run.
Without a doubt though, The Wandering Village has an undeniable visual flair, and with the clear talent on display, it absolutely has the potential to become a reality during its Early Access lifespan. Currently, however, the game simply doesn’t offer enough to delve into a satisfying experience. As such, we can only recommend keeping a close eye on The Wandering Village.
PR provided a Steam key for the purposes of this preview.
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