Game: Wall World
Genre: Action, Roguelite, Tower Defence
System: Steam (Windows & Linux)
Developer|Publisher: Alawar Premium
Controller Support: Yes
Price: UK £4.29 | US $4.99 | € 4,99
Release Date: April 5th, 2023
Review code provided with many thanks to Vicarious PR.
Hit the Wall
The popularity of the rogue-lite genre shows no signs of losing momentum anytime soon. If you’re dipping your toes into the genre, it can literally drive you up the wall wondering where to start. On that bad joke, let’s move on to Wall World, a rather delightful rogue-lite that mixes tense action segments with relaxing mining. At a very low price point that won’t break the bank, this is a very appealing purchase.
In this game, civilisation lives on a mysterious wall which doesn’t appear to have an edge to it above or below. It’s just another day on the job for you as a miner attempting to find this mystical edge. Riding around in your mechanical spider, stopping to mine for some resources whilst fighting off the odd wave of enemies. A miner just can’t work in peace these days. You learn more about the story by discovering hidden notes buried in secret chambers whilst also looking for some secret artefacts. It’s definitely a game world that’s a little different from most. Everything’s kept very simple, with a simple text introduction to set the scene and the odd dialogue between you and your mechanic between runs. For most roguelikes, I’m quick to skip the story elements and jump into the action, but this world did peak my interest, yet didn’t interfere with the gameplay itself. I was also kinda impressed how for a game taking place on a flat vertical wall, I didn’t develop a fear of heights.
Don’t Look Down
Wall World is a bit more vertically challenged than most games. Controls are easy to use and follow; I do appreciate that the game reminds you of these at the bottom of the screen if you need a little reminder. Starting in your mechanical spider, you move down (or up) a wall searching for mining spots. Once discovered, you can float out in your mining suit to gather resources with your equipment. It’s not clear what you find in each cavern.
Some mines are small, with resources easily discovered, whereas others are expansive. You would think you can take your time, but no, you are on the clock, and you need to judge whether delving deeper into a mine is worth the risk or best to move on. This design makes each run exciting and fresh, helped further by the game’s random generation. Every now and then, an alarm will beep, and it’s time to run back to your spider and defend it from incoming enemy attacks. This usually involves shooting a turret at enemies flying towards you who can come clambering up (or down) the wall. Once cleared, you breathe a sigh of relief and get back to work. What’s interesting here is you can remove the spider from the mine placement allowing you some flexibility in avoiding enemy damage.
Keep an Eye on the Timer
It’s still pretty tricky, considering you are moving around in what is essentially a slow-moving tank. Keep an eye on that overall timer counting down at the top of the screen. Once it reaches zero, you’re in for a bit of a nasty giant monster surprise that will likely end your run. If you’re a gamer with limited time to spend, you might just appreciate this time limit, knowing you won’t get carried away when you must get back to studying or make sure your small child hasn’t destroyed your bedroom.
Upgrade Mining Capabilities
You can exchange the gems you mine for upgrades back at your spider. You need to make a choice to focus on upgrading the spider’s defences or your mining capabilities. The random challenges a run brings may steer you in a specific direction. If you’re lucky, you’ll come across schematics or new weapons which add buffs to your run and may even turn the tide if things aren’t going your way.
You will collect another currency naturally while mining; when the run inevitably ends, this can be used to purchase permanent upgrades in the main menu. Upgrades such as improving your carrying capacity for gems, making the spider move quicker, and even shooting some more useful weapons. As is the rogue-lite way, each run will gradually become a bit more manageable. With that in mind, one of the game’s few niggles is this design may feel too grindy for those tired of this formula. Some gamers would notably compare this to Dome Keeper, released not too long ago and follows a similar formula. I would still say Wall World provides plenty of personality of its own to stand out.
Attention to Pixel Detail
The presentation is terrific. When I think the pixel art style can only go so far, this is another example of a game that pushes the boundaries of what can be achieved. While you are isolated with your giant mechanical spider, the game world shows plenty of signs of life. Look out in the background as you move across the wall, and you’ll see other mechanical spiders going about their day.
There’s also incredible detail to weather effects which occur at random. Rain will pitter-patter off your spider, and on some occasions, after venturing into a mine, you’ll return to find a layer of snow covering your spider. Once activated to move on it will then proceed to shake off the snow.
Accompanying your travel is a soundtrack which is relaxing but also delivers an air of mystery as you try to uncover the secrets of the wall. It’s also super cheap on Steam, so consider picking this up too. A final point worth mentioning is I love how the game opens with the vocal line ‘Wall World,’ as if delivered from some cyborg. Sends a few chills down the spine.
Conclusion – Break the Wall Down
I had to do a double take with the price of Wall World. For just over the price of a posh coffee, you’re getting one heck of a gaming deal here. Not only does this feel like something different, but so many aspects of the game’s design and presentation just clicked. I loved the pixel art and mysterious lore surrounding the game. The mix of chilled mining with tense enemy encounters always made each run quite the thrill. To top it all off, you are riding around in a mechanical spider. Possibly the only reason to avoid it is if you are utterly sick of this genre. Otherwise, this is a wall well worth scaling.
Final Verdict: Two Thumbs Up