Woven The Game – Xbox One Review
One look at Woven and you’ll be struck by its charm, with cute characterisation and a beautiful environment, so I was looking forward to seeing how it stood up on gameplay. Developed by Alterego, this game began with a Kickstarter campaign back in 2016, and now its finally come to fruition as a family friendly adventure on Xbox.
Woven takes place in a world where the landscape and its inhabitants are all made of fabric, woven and stitched together to make an environment that is beautiful to behold. Our protagonist is a stuffed animal called Stuffy, who until now has explored the world alone. He starts a bit baggy at the seams, shuffling along with a limp, until he meets Glitch, a metallic firefly called Glitch, who repairs him using one of the large knitting machines that are dotted around the world. They know little about their pasts, but as they explore and encounter other creatures, they uncover secrets and begin to understand where they have come from and why they are here in this woven world.
For the majority of the adventure there is an absence of peril, and the main aim is exploration with the aim of collecting different fabrics and patterns. There are also blueprints to be unlocked by playing a musical game that reminded me of a less tuneful version of the Guitar Hero mechanic. These blueprints are for different stuffed animals, which once unlocked means you can change Stuffy’s appearance, to turn him from his original anthropomorphic elephant form into an aardvark, goat or pig for example. You don’t have to completely transform him, but can mix and match parts such as arms, legs head or torso to make a more unique creature. Different animal parts will bestow different attributes which help you to access previous unlocked sections of the map. You may need the elephants foot stomp to shake the ground and move tree trunks, or the rabbit’s legs to be able to jump across a river for example. All the fabrics and colours you unlock can also be mixed and matched to make a unique appearance for your character. Its not just a cosmetic feature either as to pass certain large beasts you may need to look a certain way before they’ll agree to let you past.
The environment looks expansive, but looks can be deceiving, as invisible walls prevent you from wandering out of the area, but these are well disguised. You cant walk up steep slopes without a path in place, can only jump a short distance, and can’t cross rivers, so these act as natural barriers to keep you in the right area. The game play areas are still big enough to allow you scope to wander slowly around, making for an experience that can be described as relaxing, sedate, or boring depending on the length of your attention span.
The story is advanced by way of a narrator, that talks in (barely) rhyming couplets with a nice soothing voice adding to the warm cuddly ambience of the game. The narrator gives you clues about the unfolding story and how to progress but solutions to progression aren’t always obvious and plenty of times I found myself wandering around aimlessly revisiting parts of the map many times before the answer dawned on me or I accidentally stumbled upon it. Because of the lack of action, I can see plenty of younger players in particular losing interest when the story stalls like this, unless there are solutions online to look up.
In conclusion, Woven is a charming and beautiful looking game, and the time and effort the developers have put into it shines through. With its general lack of peril, it’s clearly aimed at younger gamers and the puzzles aren’t too taxing, although that’s when you actually find them. Its all too easy to lose purpose when you can’t figure out how to progress to the next level of the world, which may put players off completing the game. The story unravels slowly and is engaging and well constructed, letting the reason for your characters existence in the world and his purpose dawn on you slowly. If you want a game that is easy on the eye, and stress free on the main part to play, Woven hits a price point well for the content you get and is well worth checking out for something that will be enjoyed by kids mainly, but also older gamers that appreciate a good aesthetic.
Developer: Alterego Games
Publisher: Stickylock Studios
Huge Thanks to PR Hound for the review copy.