Wayward Strand Review (PS5) – Developer Ghost Pattern’s debut title Wayward Strand is a delightful narrative that wants to showcase a lot of what it is, And what it could be across the board. But it doesn’t fully deliver a satisfying conclusion.
The game has unique qualities and quirkiness that make the story feel alive and fleshed out. And in ways that make the player feel like you are enjoying your everyday life as a kid over the summer. Those are the moments that honestly make the game feel the most unique and lived in.
Wayward Strand puts you in the shoes of a young girl named Casey Beaumaris who is on holiday vacation and is going along with her mom to her job for three days.
It’s not exactly the standard take your kid to work day situation, considering Casey’s mom works on a floating cruise ship! A setting that is immediately intriguing in terms of the why and how.
The ship becomes its own character the more you talk to people on it throughout the game, but the setting never takes a bigger spotlight than the core narrative, which is driven by you, and the meaningful decisions you’ll need to make.
Wayward Strand Review (PS5) – A Delightful Narrative, That Wanted To Be More Than What It Is
Art And Music Blend With The Narrative
The art style and music are standouts that fit the ambiance and space the game creates to give a very relaxing and mellow feeling. Those elements help push the narrative aspects to blend everything all at once for a nice dynamic.
The visuals of the game give a nice hand-drawn feeling or water painting style to make the player feel like these are hand-drawn images that Casey drew herself or even the way that she might view the world.
Having music in those moments also gave a nice vibrancy to the story and deliver a very gleeful tonality.
The Interesting Residents Aboard
Throughout the journey the game lets you peek into the lives, and sometimes even eavesdrops on the lives of the elderly residents and workers aboard the ship.
These characters show the player multiple aspects of their lives and what they are dealing with constantly in regards to their time almost being up, having one last hooray, or just reminiscing on what was life before arriving on the ship.
Seeing the lives of all the individuals aboard and how they deal with everyday life. Walking by the cabins of all the residents and seeing characters playing chess, yarning, listening to music, and even being concerned with horoscopes.
Walking into the rooms of each character made them even more interesting to the story. You see game design elements in their rooms that showcase who these characters are as individuals.
From seeing family photos or knickknacks they have in their rooms that bring a nice game design and individuality to each one of the delightful characters on board.
The Heartfelt Moments Along The Way
The game gives the player a choice to select four or more options of narrative choices to engage with other characters. And you can choose to be more reserved, Or ask more questions to try and find out more about the residents’ lives.
Casey as well can get more information throughout the game by talking to the residents. Listening in on the conversations during different intervals of the day and finding these characters around the ship.
And hearing about them really delivered some somber moments one I felt more connected to. In particular is meeting Casey’s former doctor she had as a kid who is now a resident on the ship and has been diagnosed with cancer.
But there are moments of joy and understanding as well. With so many different personalities on board, it was delightful to interact with everyone and discover moments that make them distinctly different.
As you play and communicate with these characters Casey will write down any interesting things she hears in her journal. You can go back and look at this notebook whenever to read what Casey thinks about the characters she is meeting.
This helped me understand Casey’s thoughts and views on these characters she will be writing about in her school newspaper article about life on this floating ship.
The Delightful Story With A Not So Satisfying Ending
Throughout the experience, there is a feeling of waiting for the quote on quote second shoe to drop.
So many insinuations throughout the story happen in regard to the ship itself and the characters of the game. Characters stated they don’t know where the ship came from or why it strangely appeared in this town specifically. One point I found reiterated throughout was that a special someone was coming on board.
Talking to the residents on board nobody knew who it was or why. But all the residents had multiple theories. But in the end, this character never showed up due to scheduling conflicts, Which left me with a very confused feeling because everyone on board was preparing for this visitation from this “V.I.P.” person that was coming to inspect the ship in three day’s.
For this moment to not have a true conclusion and not to lead to anything unique or a substantial moment it left an empty feeling for me during my playthrough.
The entire three day’s this ” V.I.P.” character was mentioned and for that moment not to have any shock value left me disappointed and was not the only point a feeling of dissatisfaction occurred.
Even in my two playthroughs, I felt I had more questions than answers and that there is more here to see. And it could be something to dive back into but with seven to ten hours of playtime, it makes me unsure if I would leave another playthrough with more information, or nothing new at all.
Wayward Strand is available on PS5 and PS4.
Review code generously provided by the publisher.