The Wild at Heart Review (PS4) – From Moonlight Kids and Humble games comes The Wild At Heart, a beautiful and joyous tale of discovery. It was the art direction and eclectic mix of genres that tickled my fancy and I can tell you now, it does not disappoint.
I yearn for the days when I was a young lad, backpack in tow, loaded with sweets, nonsense and my head filled with the sense of adventure. I would wander fields, climb trees and my worries about life were at a minimum. The Wild at Heart really reminds me of these exciting, carefree days and the weird escapades I would undertake.
The Wild at Heart (PS4) – The Child-like Joy of Exploration and Discovery
Grief, Wrapped up in Adventure
The Wild at Heart is a game about loss, broken family ties and grief. Yet, with all this heavy baggage it manages to portray this with a warm sense of humour, lovely characters and a great sense of adventure. While the narrative, on the whole, is well-trodden, the way it’s told and its peripheral themes make it interesting and well worth your time.
You play, initially, as Wake, a young scallywag searching for excitement. What you stumble upon is an adventure to save the world, battle back the forces of darkness and reunite the Greenshields. The Greenshields are a group of rag-tag characters, unseen by the world they protect and they have a list of quirks as long as your arm. Plus they are all a little kooky, which I loved.
What really made me laugh about these characters is they were always introduced as “insert character trait here” weirdo and it really tickled me. From Bird Hat Weirdo and Cat Lady Weirdo to the One-Eyed Weirdo and the Weirdo Twins. This game is full of uncanny characters and they are all mysterious and wonderful.
An Amalgamation of Genres
The Wild at Heart, if I had to put a genre to it would be Luigi’s Mansion mixed with Pikmin slightly glazed with some Zelda sauce. What I mean by that is you have a small army of creatures to command, a vacuum used for various things and have small puzzles to solve. It really works though, new elements are introduced at a nice rate and everything fits the theme beautifully.
Firstly you bring together the fragmented members of the Greenshields, then you must find the relics that hold back the darkness. The game follows a standard, go here, do stuff loop that may be familiar, however, it’s the quirky gameplay systems and lovely art style that keep you interested. The combat is light but entertaining, the puzzles are not too devious and the exploration worthwhile.
Combat is mostly a job of chucking your Spritelings at enemies, which are your little, commandable creatures. You have various types, fire, ice and the bog-standard ones you start with. They all have things they can do, environmental advantages and traits that help in certain situations. Using them in tandem makes some of the puzzles very interesting and entertaining.
A little while into your journey you find your friend, Kirby and this adds another dimension to the games exploration and puzzle work. Kirby and Wake, who can be interchanged at a button press also have differing abilities. This combined with the types of Spriteling you have creates a plethora of puzzle opportunities and exploration methods that I really relished.
More Than Meets The Eye
As well as all these combat, exploration and puzzle shenanigans, you have a hub to visit and various NPS’s to deal with. From upgrades to your characters to a shop and even a museum of sorts you need to find exhibits for, there is much more to The Wild at Heart than first meets the eye and all looks so damn gorgeous.
The whole game runs on a day-night cycle and while the daytime may be great for running around willy-nilly, the nighttime is no one’s friend. The music changes, the screen gets dark and you get chased by ghastly apparitions. If they get to you they kill your Spritelings and can even kill you. Damn you darkness!
Luckily, as long as you prepare or can leg it to a fast travel point, you can tuck yourself in bed and wake up the next day. I did, on several occasions though, lose many a little fellow to the darkness. Lessons were learned – cruel, cruel lessons. Just make sure you keep an eye on the clock and you will be chipper.
The presentation of Wild at Heart is something to behold. It’s like a Saturday morning cartoon. With its hand-drawn, water colour graphical style and its eerie yet fitting music, everything looks and feels hand-made and it’s simply sumptuous. From your handmade proton-pack vacuum to the great environments and its creatures, everything is stunning, functional and very fairytale-like.
I was playing the PS4 version of The Wild at Heart as at the time of writing, there isn’t a PS5 version. I, personally don’t think it would have made much difference though. It’s art-style is captivating but not intensive, its areas are small and two-dimensional and the game performs superbly already. The only things I think a PS5 version could add would be DualSense specific features and they’re not completely necessary.
A Heart-Warming, Beautiful and Entertaining Ride
The Wild at Heart was a game I not only loved but I also, really needed. It made me smile, it made me laugh and I found everything about it charming and warm. The characters are funny, the story, while in parts generic, is well written and interesting. The graphics are beautiful, the gameplay is a strange mix that works and it was all thoroughly entertaining.
If you are in the mix for a light-hearted adventure with puzzles and exploration, look no further, you could do a lot worse than The Wild at Heart. Right, pass me the homemade proton-pack, I got a few more secrets to find, Spritelings to hatch and weird, dark things to fun from. Honorary Greenshield out!