Review: Wayward Sky

Disclosure: A code for Wayward Sky was provided to VGBlogger.com for review consideration by Uber Entertainment.

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Wayward Sky is a story of redemption and loss as two different families cross paths while dealing with their own family tragedies in different ways. Uber Entertainment tells the tale of Bess through a series of animatronic puppetry cutscenes, flashbacks, and an isometric view of a gorgeously designed puzzle-platform game world. While the game is exclusively available as a VR title, the technology doesn’t feel like a gimmick, but rather helps propel the story forward while providing a fun and unique way to experience the virtual world.

The game opens with Bess and her father flying a bi-wing prop plane which crash lands on a floating fortress in the sky.  A menacing red robot flies in and abducts Bess’ father, propelling players on a mission to navigate through the fortress to free him and escape.

Dubbed a “Look and Click VR Adventure,” Wayward Sky’s gameplay is a mix of using Move controllers to aim a laser pointer to indicate where Bess should walk from an isometric, third-person view, and for close up first-person interactions where the controllers become Bess’s hands as she turns dials, flips switches, sprays water hose turrets at robots, or attaches various objects to console stations. While the puzzle interactions are simple, they are intuitive and provide a nice switch in player control from the point-to-an-object-and-watch-Bess-walk-and-press-a-button mechanic that encompasses most of the gameplay. For a clearer picture of the interface and interactions, watch my recorded gameplay stream embedded at the bottom of the page.

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As Bess explores the floating fortress, cutscenes play out showing how an old engineer and his son came to live on the fortress, and how the engineer built robot children for his son to play and grow up with. Sadly, the engineer was so caught up in his own work, he neglected to pay attention to his son who overtime developed a resentment for his father. Once his father passed away, he became a bully to his robot brethren.

After working through the first area of environmental puzzles, Bess finds one of the robot bros has been damaged and agrees to help free repair bots so that it can be fixed. In order to do that, Bess receives a remote control power, enabling players to point at and click helper bots to activate them and then have them either walk onto pressure plates to activate lifts, or press buttons. These helper bots are very similar in character to the gibberish spewing Minions. They provide a light hearted humor with their chatter as well as slapstick fun by randomly falling over or falling apart and rebuilding themselves.

While most of the levels have a fairly linear path to get from one part of the world to another, wind chime stations provide a minor hands-on interaction which offers players an extra form of collectible to complete rather than simply rushing through the world. Once a wind chime station is reached, the view switches to a first-person view where two hands are used to pick up and hang metal rods on a swinging base. Five wind chime stations can be found in each stage.

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Other collectibles in the world are found tucked on ledges or under main platforms where Bess walks, and upon looking around the environment with the headset and pointing the laser at them, an egg-like bolt object zooms into view and reveals the contents within. Usually the eggs contain parts of the brother robots, while occasionally they will contain parental character models. Once all of the parts to the brother robots are collected, in the main menu of the game, there is a stand up arcade machine which has a mini-game that challenges players to kick or punch at security drones that are moving across the screen. The arcade cabinet provides a fun little slice of retro action, with a trophy reward if 100 security drones can be stopped before all lives are lost.

Wayward Sky is a game that explores the varying ways a person may react to a tragic loss in their life.  While the antagonist deals with loss by becoming a bully and lashing out in anger, Bess deals with loss by shrinking inward and closing herself off from her father. Cutscenes show what life was like before Bess’ mother passed away, a time when they were clearly a happy family. It is through the arc of gameplay that Bess realizes that she can still be happy by loving and enjoying her time with her father.

Wayward Sky is a visually striking game that is simple to play, but thoroughly enjoyable throughout. In many ways, it is like having a front row seat to a large collection of toys and board games. Being able to look around objects to seek out the hidden eggs as well as interact in first person with dials and switches provides a fun and immediately intuitive way to play a game. The icing on the cake is the truly heartfelt story that hits home in a much deeper way than expected.

BuyIt

Pros:
+ Beautiful art style
+ Fun game mechanics
+ Heartfelt story
+ Intuitive use of VR

Cons:
Nothing

Game Info:
Platform: PlayStation VR for PlayStation 4
Publisher: Uber Entertainment
Developer: Uber Entertainment
Release Date: 10/10/2016
Genre: “Look and Click” Puzzle Adventure
ESRB Rating: Teen
Players: 1

Source: Review code provided by developer

Buy From: PlayStation Store for $19.99

About the Author

Tim has been playing video games for more than 20 years. He manages to find time to game in between raising three kids and working as a network administrator. Follow Tim on Twitter @freemantim.