For the last few years I’ve really gotten into tabletop role-playing games, or TTRPGs. While there are a few players I know that approach the games like it’s a video game, TTRPGs are also great ways to have a shared storytelling experience. A game master sets up the story and the world and the players get a chance to do the rest. If you’re a forever GM/DM like me, you don’t really have the chance to make your own story. Wildermyth is the first time I felt like I was playing a long TTRPG campaign.
Wildermyth is a narrative driven, procedurally generated roleplaying game with tactical, turn-based combat. Unlike a lot of roleplaying games, Wildermyth has an emphasis on much more than combat—it’s a game about the heroes you create, and the story they make in the world. And it’s a pretty dangerous world that tries to eschew genre tropes by doing away with orcs and elves and replaces them with non-traditional enemies for a somewhat fresh take. It also has some pretty good turn-based combat with an array of abilities that also ignores a few genre conventions, while keeping others.
When you start out in Wildermyth you can chose between a couple of full story campaigns or chose to play multichapter campaigns with no overarching story, but with the ability to choose your ‘big bad.’ You then create your starting three person party. These three adventurers, if they live to the end of your campaign, will have changed drastically by the time the campaign is over, both physically and in their personality. They will grow old, given enough time—and they can die permanently. Their sacrifice usually means something, though, as a poignant turning point in your campaign, but also in the battle they fall. They can live and suffer the loss of a limb, or heroically sacrifice themselves to buff their team or deal massive damage. It’s a compelling system that manages to create characters that I started to care for. When a campaign ends, you can even take your favorite characters into new campaigns as legacy heroes—something I can appreciate after growing fond of my small band of bad rollers.
Wildermyth is a game about decisions. During its storytelling sequences you’re often faced with choices or dilemmas, most of which are ultimately decided by a behind-the-scenes dice roll with probabilities displayed. As storytelling interacting goes, it’s about as close as you can get to having a dungeon master at hand, with some exceptions. Gameplay associated with the overworld map and combat are missing dungeon master style narration, though the combat mostly speaks for itself.
Combat in Wildermyth is probably closet compared to modern X-Com. There is a cover system, and characters can move and act during each turn—essentially giving them two action points. There are various combat abilities that are interesting, and maintain the trend of bucking genre conventions, notably the caster’s ability to interfuse with objects, giving them different abilities based on the object. Combat is otherwise pretty straightforward, and pretty fun. Enemies can be pretty powerful, so knowing your character’s abilities and keeping them out of direct danger is essential. Combat is presented in a paper craft style which was admittedly a little offputting at first, but I was eventually endeared to it.
My least favorite aspect of Wildermyth ,and one that boils down to personal preference, is the overworld meta game. On one hand, having an open world where you can chose to devote time and resources is important to develop your own story—but on the other hand, I just disliked having to fortify tiles, send characters to scout, etc. Since it’s such an integral part to Wildermyth’s gameplay, it really felt like blocker to my full enjoyment.
Wildermyth is undoubtedly an impressive storytelling game, and it has some damn good turn-based combat to top it off. While I’m not a huge fan of its art style and the in-combat paper craft presentation, it’s not a dealbreaker. I do find it’s overworld gameplay to be tedious and find that it slows down the game significantly. Still, there’s a reason Wildermyth has been garnering acclaim, and if you’re at all interested, it’s worth checking out.
Wildermyth is available now for PC via Steam.
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