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THE WAYLANDERS
Platform: PC
45

The Waylanders Review

A slightly broken adventure full of awful dialogue

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The RPG genre has been around for decades, and has proven to be highly adaptable; developers have managed to create everything from small and personal adventures to world-saving sagas. The formula has been refined and reiterated upon for years, and in recent times many franchises have returned or been remade, from Baldur's Gate to Dragon Age and Divinity: Original Sin. But smaller studios also frequently enter this genre, as it is not overly cost prohibitive, and relies more on engaging story and solid mechanics than big budget production. The Waylanders is an RPG from Spanish developers Gato Studio, one that tries to imitate the current leaders of the genre, but comes well short.

The Waylanders game

The Waylanders is an isometric third-person RPG that sees players undertake an adventure involving ancient gods, kings, and a variety of creatures both friendly and hostile. You begin as any RPG by creating a character, choosing from four different races. The races don’t really dictate much, and only serve to give you a passive boost to resist either water, earth, fire, or wind type damage. You then choose a character class, from the typical 6 choices that include a warrior, healer, rogue, and so on. Lastly, you choose a background story, of which there are just 6 and you only get to pick one or two from those based on your class and race. Players can then visually customize their characters a little bit, selecting from a limited pack of skin colors, hair, and so on. Last but not least, you get to allocate some of the starting attribute points, in addition to those already assigned based on your chosen class. From strength to agility and intelligence, there are no surprises here either. The character creation process is quite typical for a smaller scale RPG such as this, but unfortunately things only go downhill from here.

Your created character finds themselves amongst a group of soldiers or merchants (depending on chosen background), who are accompanying a king on his sailing journey to meet the ancient gods. Despite a few cutscenes full of chatter, we don't get much background on this world – for that, you'd have to spend time reading the blocks of text in the dairy. The king is eager to meet the gods and offer them gifts, so that his people may become enlightened. However, upon arriving on the island it seems unoccupied – the screen eventually cuts to black, and we find the island on fire, monsters everywhere, and the king injured. The game offers little explanation of how we got here – what happened, who are these monsters, and why was there a fight – it's like a critical part of the story has been skipped over. You fight your way back to the boats, picking up companions along the way, and travel back to the mainland to find it overrun by corrupt magic and more hostile creatures. Your task is to restore order and bring peace back to the land.

The chunk of the story being missing in the opening hour is a telltale sign of how the rest of the game goes. The overarching narrative here is drab and cliché, despite involving time travel, gods, and a strange mix of themes. But that doesn’t make it bad. What makes The Waylanders story insufferable is having some of the worst dialogue in a video game this year – and we can make that claim without waiting for 2022 to end. The writing and conversations in the game sound like a bunch of edgy cosplayers having a casual get-together. For a game set in a magical, ancient world, the dialogue is juvenile and completely inappropriate for the setting. There's constant cursing, modern day phrases and mannerisms, and pretty much everyone is extremely unlikeable, while the main character is mute and is thus reduced to using hilariously bad facial expressions. It's like the game tries to be a weird, poorly made comedy cartoon skit. This means that you actively don’t want to talk to any characters - a death blow for any RPG.

The Waylanders game

It doesn't help that the dialogue is delivered with some very poor voice acting performances, which further drives home the point that nobody knows what they are doing here. Further on the subject of sound design – it's also all around bad. The combat and magic special effects are either non-existent, subdued, or extremely loud, with seemingly no equalization; that's just the start of the game's technical issues. The Waylanders features a variety of bugs across the 10-14 hour experience, from quest bugs to game-breaking scripting issues. There's placeholder text and poor translations, settings like V-Sync don't work unless you toggle it multiple times, and so on. The game has been in Early Access on Steam for over a year and a half, and it's safe to say despite the "full launch", it still needs another 6 to 12 months of polish at the very least.

And so what of the gameplay? Well, it's about as rough as the rest of the experience. As an isometric 3D action RPG, you will use the keyboard and/or mouse to walk around the game world, clicking on things to interact or attack. The camera has a very limited zoom-out distance, making it feel a bit cumbersome. The movement is too clunky to be precisely guided, so you'll often just click on the destination and let your character run there on their own. The size of interactive objects is usually too small, so many miss-clicks will happen. You'll run around and pick things up, talk to characters via the typical dialog tree (with text that can be too small to comfortably read), and do quests. Quests are entirely forgettable and just have you go somewhere to find or interact with something, while fighting foes along the way, and trek back to the quest giver. The game does track what you have to do, but the objective markers tend to randomly disappear; all par for the course.

You'll experience plenty of combat too, which feels weightless and slow. The attack speeds of most weapons is less than one strike per second, making it feel like you're just standing and taking turns poking each other. That isn't to say the game is easy – in fact, there are some pretty random and severe difficulty spikes. To help push through, the game does let you pause combat, like other cRPGs, so you can issue some commands/attacks manually, and unpause to execute. You may have to do this more often than you should, because the friendly AI in your party is quite poor at making decisions and can't be left to their own devices. They will run into danger, fail to use their skills, and generally are not helpful without being micro managed.

The Waylanders game

Each character has a variety of special attacks they can use, which are on cooldowns and often require either mana (casters) or rage (fighters). There are the typical consumable items, too. More abilities are unlocked overtime as you earn experience and spend skill points. New weapons and gear are also picked up from fallen foes and as rewards. You'll have to manage your party and their skills and inventories, which normally taps into a fun management aspect, but here feels like a chore due to poor AI and barebones UI.

The presentation is only passable as well. Visual quality is perhaps on-par for a game at this price point of $30, with some decent backdrops. The Waylanders also uses a rather cartoonish art style, perhaps best described as a higher fidelity version of the original World of Warcraft. It maybe fits with the more lighthearted and charming atmosphere that the game originally had in mind – if not for the awful dialogue. However, the animations are quite lacking, both in gameplay and cutscenes; from combat to facial expressions. The UI does not scale, and is pretty barebones; doing simple things like comparing your equipment is not immediately clear and easy to do, nor does it look good.

The Waylanders is not an enjoyable experience. At its very best, it only reaches mediocrity, with a limited RPG experience that features a bunch of basic building blocks borrowed from other games, while adding nothing of its own. And at its worst, it's a buggy clutter that needed another year of polish, a better and more cohesive story, and deeper and more responsive gameplay. Though even if the technical issues may get patched one day, there's no saving the terrible writing and dialogue. The Waylanders may be only $30, but it has too many problems to recommend to anyone in its current state, and has the audacity to take up 60GB worth of space with a presentation quality that doesn’t justify it.

Our ratings for The Waylanders on PC out of 100 (Ratings FAQ)
Presentation
60
There's a decent though somewhat off-putting art style, with a few nice looking backdrops and a fitting soundtrack. But the animations are poor all around.
Gameplay
50
The game's controls, UI, and mechanics produce a clunky and forgettable experience that's rarely fun to play.
Single Player
30
Some of the worst dialogue you'll hear in a video game, let alone an RPG that's not trying to be a parody.
Multiplayer
NR
None
Performance
(Show PC Specs)
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600
GPU: ASUS Radeon RX 580 8GB
RAM: 16GB DDR4
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
PC Specs

30
A litany of technical issues; some minor, others game-breaking.
Overall
45
The Waylanders tries to imitate a variety of mechanics from leaders of the RPG genre, but fails to implement any of them effectively, while offering nothing original apart from the astonishingly poor dialogue.
Comments
The Waylanders
The Waylanders box art Platform:
PC
Our Review of The Waylanders
45%
Poor
The Verdict:
Game Ranking
The Waylanders is ranked #1922 out of 1989 total reviewed games. It is ranked #109 out of 111 games reviewed in 2022.
1921. Bloodshore
PC
1922. The Waylanders
1923. NHL 09
PC
Screenshots

The Waylanders
8 images added Feb 7, 2022 21:46
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