- Developer: Funomena
- Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
- Platforms: PS4, PC
- Price: $19.99
- Release Date: December 17th, 2019
- Date reviewed: December 16th, 2019
- Reviewed on: PS4
- Review copy provided: Yes
Wattam is the latest game from developer Funomena, and legendary creator Keita Takahashi’s (Katamari Damacy, Noby Noby Boy) return to video games. Wattam has been in development since 2015, and can be described as a dream-like sandbox with a focus on solving problems through friendship. The end result is a wholesome adventure that made me smile, even when it got hard to play.
In Wattam you play as many characters, but you start off as a green cube called “The Mayor”. Something has caused everyone in the world to separate and no one remembers why. The Mayor is crying because he doesn’t know where any of his friends are, but then suddenly a few show up. Suddenly you are happy again, and you get to make them happy as well. Suddenly more friends start showing up, and more places as well. The more friends that show up, the more people you need to cheer up, and the more people you cheer up, the more places you unlock. That’s the basic premise the game works off of. Now while this may seem simple, I found myself really thinking about how to solve some of the games problems, and genuinely enjoying the story it was telling.
From the start this games sell you on it’s style. The game has a very cute and cartoon-like aesthetic, and is a delight to watch. All the characters are based off simple shapes and real life objects, like cubes and toilets (yes there is more than one toilet character and I love them both), and fills them all to the brim with personality. Not to mention everything is a character, from the objects, to the locations, to even the sun. This game is able to have over 100 characters feel different, and you can control them all. Each character controls the same but they all feel different. Some characters have different abilities, but a lot just feel unique enough that you can control anyone and it will feel different. The game just looks fun, no matter what you do. Even cut scenes are able to keep the feel of the game, as they are presented in this adorable storybook aesthetic. This game genuinely feels like playing a Saturday morning cartoon, and it put a smile on my face. The overall look of the game is just a delight, but the real strong point is the sound of the game. All the characters just sound so adorable, and all the noises they make are just fun to listen to. Not to mention how amazing the soundtrack is. The soundtrack just sounds so happy, and not to mention changes based on what character you control and where. Hearing the soundtrack change so much just added to the experience and was a big reason I had a smile on my face while I played. All of these aspects came together to make this a really enjoyable experience, and made some of the slower parts of playing it more manageable.
Fun with friends
The games controls work just fine, but can fell weird at moments. You walk around with the left analogue stick, jump with X, control your arms with square and circle, and use triangle to interact with something or activate an ability. That part is pretty standard but what feels weird is controlling the camera. In most games you use the right analogue stick to control the camera, but you use that to switch characters, so you end up having to use L1, R1, L2, and R2. L1 and R1 zoom in and out, while L2 and R2 move the camera left and right. I never got fully used to it and found myself switching characters when I meant to move the camera a lot in the beginning. It’s such an odd way to control the camera and doesn’t feel too smooth. Now you do get somewhat used to it, but even at the end of the game I still found myself switching characters when I wanted to move the camera. This didn’t really detract from my experience, it just made the game feel odd at moments. If I could rebind the controls in anyway this would fix this issue, but it doesn’t look like you can. Again this didn’t really have much of an impact on my play through as the core game was still a delight to watch and play. What did hurt my experience though, was the bugs I ran into while playing.
As of writing this review, the game is in a pretty buggy state. Much like the rest of the game, most of the bugs weren’t an issue. Sure sometimes it was odd, like when characters would randomly get thrown off the screen or just suddenly appear, but it didn’t hurt the core experience that much. The few bugs that did though, really left a bad taste in my mouth. I played this on a standard PS4, so it could be different on a Pro or a PC, but this is what I ran into. I found one major bug while playing, that would cause the game to crash, and take me back to the home menu. I was actually able to recreate the bug again so I think I know what causes it. When you are in the character select screen if you move through the menus too fast it causes the game to crash. I don’t know if this is what actually caused it, but I was able to get the same result the five times I did it. That’s the biggest one I found while playing. Others seemed ranged from the game stuttering to dropping frames, but when I restarted it the problems seem to fix themselves. Again this is what I experienced as of writing this review, all these problems could be fixed by a patch but this is what I ran into while playing.
The story comes together
Wattam is a delight to play. From the cute aesthetic, to the amazing soundtrack, there is much to enjoy here. The story is charming, the characters are unique, and it’s just fun to play. Sadly some faults build up and can hamper the experience. From weird controls, to frame rate issues, to the game even crashing. Now all these issues can still be fixed and I hope they do, but in it’s current state the game is still very enjoyable. It’s a fun short experience that had me smiling the entire time and it’s been a while since I’ve had that.