Game: The Wild at Heart
Genre: Adventure, Indie, Strategy, Puzzle
System: Steam (also on Xbox One & Xbox Series X)
Developers | Publishers: Moonlight Kids | Humble Games
Price: US £24.99 | UK £19.49 | EU € 24,99
Controller Support: Full
Release Date: May 20th, 2021
The Wild at Heart brought to life by developers Moonlight Kids is an adventure game with a mix of strategy and puzzling. It follows the story of a young lad called Wake who has run away from home due to a difficult childhood.
As the game begins our young protagonist, who is fed up with his home life, writes a note for his father and runs away from home, he sets off to join his friend Kirby in the woods. Leaving the house via the back door, Wake wanders off into a strange place in search of his friend Kirby.
Soon, the pair find themselves in a world known as the Deep Woods, home to the Greenshields. A strange breed of folk. There is the Crazy Cat lady named Litterbox, who has mislaid her cats, Paper Planes, who can’t talk but can make cool paper planes and old Grey Coat who seems to be the leader, and many more.
These folk are the Guardians of the forest, of course, it wouldn’t be a video game story without some sort of trouble brewing. The Never, a dark malevolent force is threatening to erase everyone in the Deep Woods memories and our duo set out to find three Artifacts to bring peace to the Woods.
So begins a delightfully enchanting story about Guardians, magic, and most importantly, friendship. It’s not long until Wake discovers Spritelings, little Pikmin-Esque creatures in the Deep Wood. Spritelings are The Wild at Heart’s version of helpful creatures that are key to your progress throughout the game. These tiny creatures help you to move onto new areas and solve puzzles.
They come in a few different varieties, much like Pikmin. There’s the Emberlings who are embedded with fire and can set their surroundings alight. Twigling Spritelings who are fast workers and immune to toxic.
Attack and Smash
Spritelings can be thrown at enemies to attack them, smash up barriers, carry objects both big and small, and more. You can discover more types of them as you progress, each with their own skills, their own immunity, and specific obstacles that they can destroy.
I don’t want to go into great detail about the different Sprightlings and spoil too many of the games secrets. Suffice to say they are pretty similar to Pikmin and very cute.
The Gustbuster and Mind the Dark
Armed with a bunch of Spritelings, Wake also has a Gustbuster backpack vacuum cleaner. If you think Super Mario Sunshine’s F.L.U.D.D or Luigi’s Mansions Poltergust you’ll get the idea. Wake can suck up stray Spritelings to bring them closer to him. He can also suck up items that enemies leave behind when they die.
Small camps are dotted around the open-interconnected map to provide more permanent refuge. Especially during the night to let you sleep until daybreak. You see, the night darkness is bad, if caught out too late at night Wake is left open to attack from night creatures so it’s best to be in camp as night falls. Nighttime seems to come round quite quickly, and often when I was on the verge of uncovering something new.
The junk Wake and Kirby pick up on their journey throughout the Deep Woods can be crafted into useful items. Each camp has a crafting table. Items like Nite Lights can be crafted to scare away the night creatures for a moment to let Wake retreat safely.
The Wild of Heart has a touch of a Metroidvania about it in the way the game is structured. One big interconnected world map that you can explore, though access to parts of the world is often limited by bridges and other obstacles that can only be passed once you have acquired special items, and in this case it’s Spritelings. It’s the classic in-game formula of picking up new skills that allow you to access and explore new places.
Though the game has full controller support, the throwing mechanic for the Spritelings can be finicky at times. Resulting in my team of Spritelings not going exactly where I wanted them. However, the Gustbuster is useful for bringing stray Sprightlings back to the fold. I’m sure the controls will be tweaked at a later date with updates to the game.
Music and Visuals
The soundtrack for The Wild at Heart is one of my favourite things about the game. Composed by Amos Roddy, it can be gentle, melancholy, and even a little weird (in the right way)! There have been times when I’ve stopped playing just to listen to the music. Particularly when Grey Coats theme music plays or the happy uplifting sound of Aatto’s Flute. Check it out on Spotify, it is definitely worth a listen to.
Visually, the game is gorgeous! The beautiful hand-drawn art style suits the game perfectly. Each quirky character has its own wacky individual look. The sound effects are excellent and really immerse you into the world of Wild at Heart. The different Spritelings all make their own squeaking kind of noise too.
The Wild at Heart is a very enjoyable game. The story of Wake and Kirby is interesting and helps to give them a reason to be where they are in the Deep Woods. With well-crafted puzzles, beautiful artwork, and music that is relaxing and you can really tell a lot of imagination and love went into the making of the game as well as the music.
Final Verdict: Two Thumbs Up