Woven, developed by Alterego and published by StickyLock Studios, began its long journey to your Xbox with a Kickstarter campaign back in 2016. I imagine that the game’s unique presentation, point & click mechanics, and story-driven premise had a large part in how well it did, even if it ultimately didn’t meet the fundraising goals.
Personally, I think that as painful as the funding setback was, Woven benefited by the delay. The environment that finally made it into the game is leaps above what was originally envisioned. It is a world unlike any I’ve seen, a fully realized world of textures and patterns that even well into the game, I couldn’t stop marvelling at; it’s something that has to be seen to be believed.
Woven takes place in a world and with characters made entirely of fabric. It has some interesting elements that when combined have the makings of a great game. There’s a fluffy protagonist – a shape-shifting stuffed animal named “Stuffy”, who, along with his (or her?) ever present buddy Glitch, roams the map exploring and solving puzzles. They encounter other animals, both sentient and not, slowly uncover bits of their pasts, and work to discover the secrets of the land.
There’s a bit of a collecting aspect to the game too. The pair gather fabrics, patterns, and blueprints that serve to both change Stuffy’s appearance and to solve quests. I use “quests” very loosely here as Woven doesn’t communicate what’s needed to progress. It’s easy to understand though that to unlock the next portion of the map, something has to happen. It usually involves changing Stuffy’s form, say from an elephant to an anteater, or the fabric Stuffy has equipped. Other times it’s less clear, which leads to the, “It’s a great game, but…” part of this review.
There are times playing Woven when there isn’t enough to go on to know how to proceed. The clues can be vague (or altogether absent) and the solutions obtuse. When playing a puzzle game, which Woven is at heart , there’s a fine line between challenging and frustrating. The tipping point varies for every player. I’m either not as clever as I thought, really bad at this genre of games, or the puzzles are built for gamers that enjoy finding the needle-in-the-haystack. I just know that I sometimes spent a lot of time backtracking, experimenting, searching every nook and cranny for the way forward. That was my tipping point. On occasion I found the solution I needed purely by accident, which didn’t bring the joy that accompanies a sense of a thing done well. I won’t belabor that point, though. Just because the game was tough for me doesn’t mean that’ll be tough for someone else.
What’s most apparent about Woven is that it is clearly a labor of love and the game’s environment is very refined in its structure. It’s clear that the developers spent a lot of effort in play testing, in object placement, mood and setting. It’s a beautiful game with a difficulty that may be in the upper strata for some but an enjoyable challenge for others. If that sings to you then this is your game.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.