I was really excited about Wayward Strand when I attended PAX 2019. I, unfortunately, didn’t get to play the demo. It was packed at all times, which although I’m sure is a great thing for developer Ghost Pattern, I was disappointed I couldn’t play it.
None the less! The game’s demo arrived onto my home PC over the weekend thanks to LudoNarroCon and I finally got to find out what this Aussie game is all about.
The demo is only about 15 minutes long and shows many signs of a work in progress, but with my short time, I feel like I have an understanding of the core experience.
You play as Casey, a teenage girl who’s visiting the airship hospital her mother works on. When you arrive early in the morning your mother runs off to attend to her jobs and Casey is left to explore at her will. She has an objective here, however, and that’s to learn as much as she can about the people and the history of the airship itself. She’s planning to write about the airship in her school newspaper and maybe there’s just more than meets the eye to this hospital.
Wayward Strand is point-and-click lite. You select what room you want Casey to enter or what section of the ship to enter as you would in your typical point-n-click adventure game, but there are no messy puzzles involving spam clicking everything in a room to find what you need. Well, there wasn’t in the demo at least. The game is more focused on telling a character-driven story and making sure player-choice will affect the outcome.
A key feature in Wayward Strand is the real-time actions of everyone aboard the ship. You’ll notice a clock in the upper right side of the screen which represents the time in the game. Certain characters will be doing specific activities at one time of the day and will move about the ship in their morning routine. Everyone is living their lives, not waiting on Casey to find them as most NPC’s in video games seem to be. Meaning if you choose to talk to someone early in the demo, you’ve most likely missed the opportunity to talk to someone else in the room next door who may move on and not be in the mood to talk by the time you’re done with your first person.
In my first playthrough of the demo I went and spoke to a nice old lady called Ida who was very happy to have me as a visitor and answer my questions about her life and the ship itself. The second time I played the demo I went to a room with an extremely confidant old man named Neil who started interviewing another old lady, Mrs Fitzgerlad, who more or less implied she has NSFW pictures of herself somewhere from her younger years. She was great and made me laugh out loud with some of her subtle jokes or comments.
The game’s writing seems solid. The characters I met were all unique and interesting in their own ways. However, sometimes they had voice acting and sometimes they did not. And although this obviously because it’s a work in progress, I do hope Ghost Pattern are fully committed to full voice all lines of dialogue in the game.
The voice-acting in the demo, wether final, temporary or a mix of both was pretty great and made all the difference in presenting these characters with lively personalities.
Similarly, the VO can add a lot to the ambient background. You hear the PA system call for nurses and the buzzing of the hospital itself, but also walking past a conversation already happening and being to just hear it in the background made me want to spy even longer.
The game is set in 1970’s Australian and I’m hoping there’s more to be explored about that exact time period within the context of the airship itself. I didn’t learn much about the ship in my time, but I’m intrigued none-the-less, admittedly before I played the demo even.
Amongst other adventure games, Wayward Strand is sure to stand out thanks to its children’s book inspired art style. It’s minimalist yet detailed in areas that matter like the character designs.
I’m excited to play more of Wayward Strand in the future and continue Casey’s journalist endeavours.
You can check out some gameplay below and wishlist the game on Steam HERE.