I am confused…
Okay, I know it’s not that hard to confuse me, however, this game did it asap. I’m all about exploring games and learning storylines by myself, even if I love spoilers, however, half of the time I didn’t know what the hell was happening and none of the events made sense altogether. And the game wasn’t that long to begin with, like I know that it’s only chapter 1 and 2 by now, but after a while, the most frequent thought in my mind was “Am I playing the same game anymore?” Because straight up from what I read on the steam page and what I experienced, and I’m not even gonna go into the ending of chapter 2 yet, because this is still the intro, it didn’t make much sense to me. However, I will start this review, by talking about the best part of this game and I know it may seem like a shallow thing, however, I was simply stunned, even with all the limitations.
Dem graphics doe… Waking the Glares has some killer visuals, and not only that, but the details that went into those visuals … I’m not gonna lie, visuals are not nearly as important as some other aspects in a game for me, however, I am thoroughly impressed. Not to mention that, I am led to believe that this game delivers a better experience when played in VR, so in a way it was made with this in mind as a priority, so I can only imagine how gorgeous it’s gonna look through a VR headset.
In a way I was enjoying the graphics and the detail that goes into them and I never for a moment hesitated to stop and look around and just take it all in. However, on the other hand, I am kind of bummed that I only get to look. I understand that this is not a sandbox game, however I feel bad that it doesn’t give you a bit more freedom. There were so many invisible walls, more than my taste would have handled and most of the areas in the game (especially in chapter 1) are just there to be pretty. And I’m not saying that’s entirely a bad thing, however when you put effort into having something so pretty, me as a gamer, I feel kind of sad that I cannot go and explore it. And in chapter 2, it’s a bit more subtle, but it’s a whole town (well of sorts) and there are so many buildings, but you can only go into those relevant for the storyline. I’m usually against having pointless areas for exploration in a game, however, when the game presents a setting in such a manner where it does promote exploring, even to the slightest … I’m down … like, give me all the pointless rooms, imma gonna explore dem all. By the way, the fact that they included only the elements that have purpose in the game, creates kind of a hollow experience, because there’s not really that much to it.
However, as I have always stated, graphics alone are not an element that can completely solo carry a game. Unlike gameplay, and to be honest, the gameplay in Waking the Glares was a bit lacking to me. At times, I even felt unengaged at all. Basically it all goes down to walking around, picking stuff up and utilizing them elsewhere. And in-between there was a really weird intermission, where I was on a boat, floating in a river for like 5 minutes and the only thing that I could do was look around the repeating urban scenery. At least there was the puzzle element in the town in order to keep me engaged with something. Let’s talk about each element separately, starting with the exploration.
I know this is coming across as an exploration game and there is only so much you can do that is adaptable to VR, and maybe that’s entirely what they were going for, however, I just cannot twist my soul and say that I was engaged. In chapter one, where you have to go around a house and wake up some tree, basically it goes down to exploring each room and doing something in each of them, with the exception of the last one, where you need the essence of the tree in order to proceed. Here there isn’t even a puzzle element to it all, unlike in the next chapter, where the exploration is a bit les obstructed and we are actually allowed to walk around a bigger area. I mentioned invisible walls, and trust me, they are everywhere. As great as this game looked, the too many invisible walls and obstructed gameplay, makes the game too linear for my tastes. Like, the only choice I get is in what order to do the puzzles in the town. The boat in the river, I mentioned – I would have loved to steer it myself and not just sit there for 5 minutes, watching it move so slowly. Speaking of slowly, why the hell was my character crawling in chapter 1. Like, his movements were suuuuuuuuuper slow, I could not even. At least in chapter 2, he sped up a little, because if I had to spend all that time walking around at that slow tempo, I would kill myself, on top of having double the playtime, I do now.
Puzzles. Generally, like I mentioned puzzles go as far as to find something and use it somewhere else. I have to say, the first chapter was pretty bland in terms of puzzles, however, I did quite enjoy the second one, with the exception of one thing. The clock store. HOW THE HELL DO YOU SOLVE THAT PUZZLE?!?! I admit I cheated there, and thank god there was where to cheat from, because I spent a good 30 minutes running around like a retard, trying to figure it out. “Maybe in the shop, one of the clocks will show me the right time … oh, maybe it’s the only moving clock … wait, does it have something to do with morning, like they mentioned in the conversation?” I forgot what the answer to the puzzle was, however, it’s still a mystery to me to this day why that is the answer. The guy from the video kept fidgeting with the clock and then the door opened and I don’t even think there was a point to all the fidgeting. I admit I did like when you sit at the café to order bread. I kind of got my hopes up that I could order stuff from the menu, alas that was quickly dismissed when I found out it wasn’t the case and it was a bit disappointing. Like, I know that it has no purpose for the puzzle and the storyline, but it’s not such a bad thing to have these little interactive details on board. I really enjoy such things. Useless side activities, bring the game a specific kind of charm and I will give Wuppo as an example here, because that game was jam packed with these.
Here’s a question. Why was interaction with objects so hard to spot? Like, there was no way of telling if something is intractable or not, unless you go straight to its face and wiggle the camera at the precise interaction spot, to get the “use” or “take” option pop up. I actually missed an object in the house, because of this and spent a while looking for a way to progress, because I refused to cheat. I don’t know, I mean, in most games you can naturally tell what you can interact with and what not, and even if it’s a bit more general, you can still spot it from a bit of distance and not necessarily in one precise spot. You know, now that I think about it, I had the same problem with doors in Inner Voices. It’s something I didn’t mention there, however, it was the same issue there. Truthfully though, it wasn’t that obvious, because at least you know you can open most doors, especially those with the symbols on them. Picking up stuff was a whole different experience, but whatever, I’m not going to go into details about it, alas you get my point.
Let’s talk about story. Who am I? What the hell is happening? What was this about a book? Why is the world so wonky in the beginning and then I’m in this town and about to be part of some thief gang, which reminds me a lot of the Four Horsemen in the Now You See Me movie… Like, how do we lead from one event to the other? This is exactly why I felt I was playing two separate games, because from surrealism, I was shoved into realism and it made no sense to me. The narrator … the hell is he talking about? How am I getting from point A to point B and how is this related? Is it just me? Like and I’m not even talking about one of those fantasy plots that reveal some stuff and leave the rest for the player to guess. Here it’s all guessing. To be honest, I read what the game was about and after I played it, I just cannot relate what I had read and what I had experienced as being the same thing. Only thing I did was when they said that each chapter tells a story of its own – yes, indeed this is correct, but doesn’t it all have to add up and make a point? I know this is an episodic game and more is to come out, however, I don’t think the way they incorporated the story was well made. I’ve played a lot of episodic games, alas, this one makes no sense to me – at all. I was kind of unsatisfied that the lack of explanation towards who I am and about this book that supposedly ruined my life, kind of trampled the story experience for me. I wouldn’t even know these things if I hadn’t read the steam page of the game.
Music. Waking the Glares claims to have an amazing array of OST and while I do agree with this, it quickly gets repetitive… For the 3 hours I spent on this game, I quickly had the desire to switch to my own music playlist. Alas, I didn’t do it, because I kept paying attention to other sounds. And while they do say that sounds do matter, I found this out only on one occasion and to be real, I could solve the puzzle, without even hearing the sound, because I could see the color of the whistle he was holding.
As a conclusion, I know a lot of effort went into this game, to look as stunning as it does, however, I feel a bit disappointed in a way that the game didn’t feel all that engaging to me, nor was it memorable enough. There are tons of games with amazing visuals and to be fair, it doesn’t even have to be this HD to look good. I know pixel games, which look visually amazing. Point is that I believe more effort should go towards gameplay and story to compensate towards the common goal of making an amazing game. And who knows, it might get better as future chapters come out. Alas, as it is now, my verdict for Waking the Glares is 5/10. At any rate I would not recommend it to be played as an episodic game, rather than get the whole experience, when it does come out.