Classic adventure games like Full Throttle, Grim Fandango, and Monkey Island all lived and died on their quirky premise, solid writing, and sometimes overly obtuse puzzles. You don’t find games like these much anymore, but Wailing Heights is here to fill that gaping adventure-shaped hole in your heart.
Set in a town filled with werewolves, hipster vampires, and zombies alike, this game takes you on a journey to see how the other, less human half, lives. Should you book a trip to this unique town? Let’s find out.
A Winning Premise Combined With Clever Gameplay
In today’s crowded gaming world, a great idea can really take you places, and Wailing Heights has the perfect hook. The developers describe it as a “body-hopping musical adventure game,” and while that fits the concept nicely, it’s the little details and characters that really make this adventure game stand out.
You play as Frances Finklestein. You used to be the producer for a band in the 60s called The Deadbeats, but they’ve all since passed away, leaving you without many purposes in your life. When an invitation brings you to Wailing Heights in search of a fresh new gig, you’re quickly arrested. Your crime? Being alive.
Things soon take a turn as you find out that the inhabitants of Wailing Heights are all beings that have been reincarnated as everything from ghosts, to vegan werewolves, to hipster vampires, and even zombies.
The storyline is excellent here, thanks to sharp writing and plenty of wits. The game constantly elicited a chuckle out of me as I interacted with all manner of different creatures and characters. The amount of detail in the dialogue really helps sell the world.
Whether you’re being blown off by hipster vampires who are obsessed with the latest smartphone model or being chastised for your apparently woeful skills as a ghost lawyer, Wailing Heights constantly offers whacky characters, interesting developments, and some very cool backstory.
Each of the primary characters has a backstory you can read through, which is presented in a graphic novel style, completed with exquisite art. The ongoing goal and underlying mystery propel everything forward, while the world’s strict rules help make Wailing Heights feel like a real place.
Something as simple as being able to understand zombies when you are one, but otherwise they just moan, really helps the world feel established and present. I loved the entire presentation of the story here.
Now, let’s talk gameplay. Wailing Heights quickly introduces you to a body-hopping mechanic that allows you to take control of specific characters once you’ve established their name, something they love, and something they hate.
The transition happens in the form of a catchy tune that is unique to each character. The styles range from hip-hop to soulful vocals, to country sounds that all add additional charm to the experience.
Characters each come with their own abilities or methods of traversal. For example, the werewolf can transform into a dog and follow scents, while the vampire can turn into a bat and reach higher places.
The puzzles in the game are challenging and involve a lot of trial and error. This means you’ll need to switch characters a lot and find the right combination of factors to move the story forward. This isn’t so bad, but it becomes more than a minor annoyance when you add in the fact that to switch characters, you need to be standing next to them so they hear the song.
It makes sense from a story perspective, but it drove me nuts when I couldn’t remember where I had left the character I needed, and I had to backtrack across multiple areas to find them. Despite this, I was fully in love with Wailing Heights from the get-go.
Spectacular Art and Voice Acting
Wailing Heights has positively amazing art that leans on a graphic novel style. The use of color, fine details, and unique character design all make the game a visual treat. The animation is limited, but it works well, and the whole world is sold immediately with amazing vocal tracks and acting.
For the price, I cannot recommend Wailing Heights enough. It has a huge amount of charm, a great story, and a truly unique world. You don’t find gems like this often in gaming, so do yourself a favor and book a trip to this monster-filled town as soon as possible.
Final Score: 8.5/10
A copy of Wailing Heights was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 9/17/18