Wunderling Review

I seem to have taken a shine to auto-runners this last week or so! After reviewing Kid Tripp recently I got the chance to check out Wunderling, which leans harder into the platforming aspects than that previous title and manages to offer up a good, rewarding challenge.

We assume the role of a generic videogame bad guy in the vein of something like the Goomba’s from Mario. After being squished by the ‘hero’ of the game – Carrot Man – we’re brought back to life by a witch who appears to be the villain (and our boss) and tasked with taking down Carrot Man before he rescues the princess. What follows is several hours of entertaining in-jokes and gaming references, wrapped up in some cleverly designed levels that often featuring clever little hidden areas and rewards.

Starting off we have only the most basic of abilities – well, ability – in a jump. Our little lemon-creature runs of his own accord, so it falls to us to jump him over obstacles and up ledges, collecting the several dozen flowers along the way to the exit portal. Wunderling  has a much easier learning curve than Kid Tripp, though it’s not long before we notice those chests that appear to inaccessible at first, but tempt us back to try and find alternate routes to get to them. In addition to the chests there are extra exit portals, cards and hidden areas to find that, while the rewards are generally cosmetic or a smidgen of lore, offer up a good challenge that is rewarding to solve in and of itself.

Each of the worlds feature around 16 stages to clear that can be tackled in any order, with only a ercentage of them needing clearing to unlock the next world. We can go back to find hidden items (any missed are indicated by an icon on the stage select screen) or move on to progress the story. Every other world we are initiated into a boss battle with Carrot Man that might lack much interactivity, but makes up for it with entertaining writing and settings. After each we’re granted a new power to help us through the next set of worlds, such as a wall jump or mid-air dash. As these powers are introduced the level designs get even more outlandish and creative too.

Despite the limited interaction we have with the game there’s something moreish about the challenge presented to us. Even on some of the harder levels where I’d have to take a short break after too many failures I soon found myself keen to get back to it. Trying to collect all of the flowers, chests, and secrets holds its own appeal and tied together with the charmingly funny story and great pixel-art visuals, Wunderling managed to get its hooks in me throughout the four or so hours it took to complete. The only frustration really comes in thedifficulty of some sections as not every level has a checkpoint. It’s not that they are overly long, but a few I found annoying as I finally cleared one hard part only to instantly fail the next and have to repeat it all over again. Restarts are fast at least, and the controls are tight enough to where any mistimed jump is usually our own fault.

Conclusion

Wunderling is a charming, funny, and fun auto-running platformer that makes up for it’s simpler interactions with smartly designed levels, loads of hidden bits to find and gaming references around every corner. A few more checkpoints wouldn’t have gone amiss, but overall Wunderling manages to find that sweet spot between challenge and reward.

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This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox One console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.
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Good
  • Super simple to pick up and can be played one handed
  • Charming visuals and audio
  • Entertaing story with plenty of pop culture references
Bad
  • Some levels could use an extra checkpoint or two
7.8
Good
Gameplay - 8
Graphics - 8
Audio - 7
Longevity - 8
Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

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