Beta Test #17: Wailing Heights
Jesus H Christ you have no idea the trouble I’ve gone through to bring you this game. I actually filmed half a play through, twice, before I realised the frame rate I filmed my screen in was lagging to hell. This was AFTER I had edited most of the audio, and started on the main screen grabs. From there, I had to waste a solid 7 hours of film, and destroy my hopes at being a YouTube “personality”…
I’m not bitter, I’m just wrecked.
Hello my Disgruntled Vampires, I’m Bethany Griffiths, and this is Beta Test. A game review platform where I, a very confused Minotaur, choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely (un)biased review.
Guess who’s back on the bandwagon, and by bandwagon I mean mental health care plan? ME! Yeah, turns out that working a day job, where everyone is constantly yelling at you isn’t great for your mental health. Who knew. The stress is also not great for your body, as it turns out, because I was in ED a few weeks ago. Who knew. So now I turn to the only outside of professional help therapy I know. Video Games. Let’s get mentally responsible with it!
(Also, I’m just going to come right out and say it, this is one of those games I absolutely got wrecked on. More throughout the review about the how and why, but suffice to say, this was not one of the better ways to spend my month.)
Wailing heights, Developed and published by Outsider Games, is a narrative driven goal based game, that is set to the pace of a ‘play it yourself’ comic book. It has three inclusive chapters where you roam the streets, and various venues to drive the plot and solve clues about this mysterious village. Through your insights you come across familiar faces, and unlock more of the comic backstory, to create a whole picture of the in game universe.
From the beginning, we open with a backstory that gives us an overview of the general plot, with catchy background music that sounds like a take on 60’s pop rock i.e The Monkees, The Beatles, The Who. It is fresh and new, and it gets you excited for a good game. From there it get weird though, as we’re taken through the opening sequence and given our first objectives.
There’s no clear objective list to follow, so you have to take to wandering around until you get the right combo of events to get further in the game. I won’t lie, I had to use outside resources, and forums to get me through the whole game, because the hints given, like getting sugar for Aida-Z, or using the printing press to get a good review for Fangs, are ambiguous and way too subtle to pick up.
From there, Where I think this game really could have used work is that there are a lot of plot points that felt….clunky?. It felt like there were some contributors to the game that weren’t on the same page as everyone else, and that really brought down what could have been a well rounded game. Especially the ending. Not to spoil it, but I was pretty confused, as a new character comes in at the end, as a boss battle and we as a character make some very questionable (and…inaccurate?) decisions to win against them.
The script borderlines on cringy. There were moments I actually recoiled from second hand teenage cringe. That’s not inherently a bad thing, the game has a specific demographic, and 15 year old Bethany would have loved it. Looking from an adults point of view though, I couldn’t help but feel like the script was trying too hard. (Especially with the use of the word “Yummers”. Not sure what it is about indie developers, but apparently nothing says ‘I’m hip and with the kids’ like trying to use a variant on their lingo in a way that doesn’t work with the dialect of any of the characters. Maybe it’s a regional thing?)
The game is also much more suited to Xbox style controls over PC, so when the commands come up it takes you awhile to figure out the keys. (even figuring out how to get back to the main menu was a struggle for me)
Now, I will say the art style is beautiful, as is the score. There was a lot of time and dedication placed in the making of the environment, and I have major props to the entire art department for bringing such cinema to a game. Where it lacked though was the animation, especially syncing the footsteps with the movements of characters. I don’t know if this is just a personal qualm, but I found it highly grating to see the character move at one pace and hear the feet go to a completely differently time. Either way, it definitely could have been tightened.
Because of the overall pleasantness of the graphics, but the lack of user friendliness, I give this game:
4/5 Scottish Ghosts for style
1/5 Scottish Ghosts for plot
0/5 Scottish Ghosts for easiness
1/5 Scottish Ghosts for Stumbling around not knowing what you need to do to complete the objectives!
So, my dudes! I’ve been Bethany Griffiths, and this has been a long month of a Beta Test. A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review. If you have a game that you want me to give my two cents on, Please let me know!
Until next time,