Wanderjahr is a cute and colorful JRPG with a deceptive level of difficulty. In fact, the game’s subtitle is “Try Again or Walk Away”, which seems like a clear challenge to the player. Are you going to try again and figure out where you went wrong…or give up? Well, considering I took the latter route, you might be able to infer that the alternative option wasn’t super appealing.
As far as the story goes, people have been trying to edit the universe’s source code to create a better world. Gameplay-wise, the game seems to be nothing but a series of auto-battles, where you can swap between a selection of characters with different abilities, use a very limited number of items, and pick up money dropped by enemies. It seems so simple on the surface, but seeing as I died multiple times in the demo, there’s clearly more strategy than I was able to grasp. I even reached a boss fight and was promptly annihilated multiple times before I decided I had had quite enough of this cute, yet brutal world.
A high difficulty level is one thing, but I’m really not a fan of games that are more complicated than they rightly need to be. For example, you have to manually level up your characters between battles. (Sure, have auto-battles where I have minimal interaction, but my characters don’t automatically level up. Makes sense.) Another weird thing is how items work. After you purchase items, you must also equip them before they’ll be available in battle. Once I figured this out, I retried the boss battle, feeling far more confident. I mean, I now had four elixirs for reviving KO’d party members, so that should have given me a nice advantage. Right? No, because my elixirs randomly dropped from 4 to 1 (along with every other type of item I had) for no discernable reason. I did not use them. They just…vanished, and I still have no explanation for what happened.
To top it off, the game feels like it would be better off being played with a mouse or touchpad than a controller. I played the demo on the PS4, and it was rather awkward moving the cursor around the screen with the analog stick. Though I’m honestly not sure why that was because I’ve played other point-and-click games on the PS4 (When the Past Was Around and various Artifex Mundi puzzle games), and I didn’t have any issue with controlling the cursor in those games.
One positive I can say is that Wanderjahr is pretty affordable, as the game is just $9.99 and can take 15 hours to beat. Maybe if you’re looking for a difficult strategy game, then perhaps this might appeal to you. But I can’t say I had much fun with this one.
This post was originally published on Virtual Bastion on February 28, 2022.