I feel like Humble Games really have us figured out when it comes to their game releases, with the likes of Flynn: Son of Crimson, Unsighted, Dodgeball Academia, and Wildfire all offering creative adventures that scored well on the site over the last year. That trend continues now with The Wild at Heart, which has recently made its way to the Nintendo Switch following its initial release on PC and the Xbox One. It’s a heartfelt yet whimsical escapade that pulls together a blend of gameplay ideas into one charming package, and believe me, it’s a lot of fun to play.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
The Wild at Heart puts players in the role of Wake who, after living a neglectful life with his father, decides to run away into the wild with his best friend Kirby. Well, that’s the PLAN anyway, though it’s made a little bit difficult when he stumbles into the nearby woods and can’t find her. Instead, Wake encounters a peculiar fella known as Grey Coat that informs him that he now has mysterious powers and that he’ll need to use them in order to vanquish some vicious creatures threatening the land. Talk about new-found responsibilities, huh? Don’t worry, he also finds Kirby, and they get to work together to save the day.
It’s all very fairy tale-like in design, but it makes for an enchanting story that will keep a smile on players’ faces. Sure, it doesn’t ever get too complex and a lot of its twists and turns can be pretty predictable, but it’s nice and provides more than enough context to the adventure at hand. Plus, there’s some fantastic characters to encounter that are wacky in their own little ways, making interactions in the game a real treat.
“The two most obvious inspirations that will come to mind are Pikmin and Luigi’s Mansion, with Wake not only able to lead around a group of little creatures known as Spritelings that help out in a myriad of different ways, but also armed with a vacuum cleaner that he can use to suck up objects in the environment.”
Gameplay-wise, The Wild at Heart mish-mashes together a bunch of cool ideas to make for an experience that’s both varied and fun throughout. The two most obvious inspirations that will come to mind are Pikmin and Luigi’s Mansion, with Wake not only able to lead around a group of little creatures known as Spritelings that help out in a myriad of different ways, but also armed with a vacuum cleaner that he can use to suck up objects in the environment.
Both ideas are utilised in creative ways throughout the game, with the Spritelings able to open up new pathways, battle enemies, uncover treasures, and generally help solve puzzles. Again, like Pikmin, they come in different varieties too, with the players able to take a set amount out with them at any given time and use their abilities in co-ordination with one another. It might sound a little complex, but it’s simple enough to do in-game and it’s always clear what each Spriteling is capable of. Your vacuum cleaner is used to suck up different objects and items across the environment (and Spritelings if they’re out of reach), with its use imperative to progressing through certain areas. The items you gather with it can be used to craft useful gear too, so yeah, you’ll want to suck up just about EVERYTHING that you can see.
It all comes together nicely to make for a cool gameplay experience, whilst the solid puzzle and level design ensures players will feel tested throughout but without things every getting too complicated. There are also some Metroidvania-like elements to exploration where you’ll need specific Spriteling types to access certain areas. This does mean there’s a bit of backtracking in the game which can be a bit of a nuisance, though the fact that the world itself is so wonderful and mystical in design means you won’t mind re-treading old territory too much.
“Everything is packed with colour and curious sights, whilst the aesthetic is lovingly crafted and looks like it has come straight out of a children’s book.”
There are other things to consider as you play too, such as the different abilities of both Wake and Kirby, as well as the day-and-night cycle which sees more vicious enemies come out in the dark. Admittedly, I wasn’t a big fan of the night-time, with it often feeling more like a hindrance than a meaningful gameplay mechanic. More so than not it just saw me rushing back to a campsite to stay safe, which was a bit of a pain when exploring a new area or when you’re on the cusp of real progress through a puzzle.
It’s a minor issue in what is otherwise a really fun experience though, so it’s hard to complain too much. Between leading the Spritelings through each area, sucking up objects with your vacuum, solving the clever puzzles, or simply uncovering the secrets hidden across the world, there’s a whole lot to like about The Wild at Heart. I’ve got to give a shout out to the visual design too, which is stellar throughout. Everything is packed with colour and curious sights, whilst the aesthetic is lovingly crafted and looks like it has come straight out of a children’s book. It’s really lovely.
The Wild at Heart Review
The Wild at Heart offers a heart-warming tale that’s complemented by some varied gameplay mechanics and a wonderful looking world. It introduces plenty of neat ideas as you explore each unusual locale, whilst leading the curious little Spritelings through puzzles or simply sucking up the objects around you with your vacuum never stops being fun. It’s just a lovely little game.
It is guilty of having some minor annoyances, most notably with the day-and-night cycle and some of the backtracking, but The Wild at Heart is otherwise a sweet puzzling-adventure that’s sure to capture the imagination of anyone who plays it.
Developer: Moonlight Kids
Publisher: Humble Games
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC