Wuppo initially released for PC (via Steam) in 2016, to which it enjoyed a very warm welcome indeed, 97% positive rating as a matter of fact, and now it’s found a home on the Xbox One. The big question is, what is all the fuss about? Having never heard of it until SOEDESCO pushed hard on the promotional train, I was quite intrigued to find out. The story revolves around Wuppo, a lonely Wum who has found itself seeking out a new place to call home following an eviction from a live-in hotel. Wum is tasked with travelling the length and width of the world to locate new living arrangements, meeting all manners of creatures along the way.
Wuppo is part and parcel a Metroidvania platformer game but instead of overly excessive combat sections, there’s a larger emphasis on exploration and engagement in its place. The balance between these components, as well as the theme and design of the game, makes for one incredible adventure that you wont forget anytime soon. Safe to say that it didn’t take long at all for me to answer my own aforementioned question. It’s every bit as enticing as it is endearing, and something of a diamond in the rough when you take into account that this game was created by just two people.
Gameplay typically sees you bouncing between platforming sections, combat sections and general exploration of the lovable world within. Wuppo is able to talk and communicate with other wums within, be it to buy items, learn about your surroundings, get some additional help or just have a friendly bit of banter. The dialogue is short, sweet and interesting – often allowing you to learn about the countless NPCs to get a firm understanding about their personalities and traits. I don’t want to make Wuppo sound as though it’s simplistic, because there’s a surprising amount of depth packed inside this adventure. The devs have thrown a blanket layer of importance when chatting to NPCs because much of your encounters with them will lead to extending your happiness (HP), which is certainly something you’ll want to achieve if you want an easier ride.
Despite the fact that you’re initially challenged with finding somewhere to live, actually pulling that off is harder than it sounds. Wuppo comes with an inventory and currency system, which enables you to obtain useful items or sell off unwanted items at a handful of shops within the world. Items will range from puzzle-solving objects such as artefacts, items that will grant you access to specific parts of the environment, health replenishing food, and bog-standard collectables. Much of the gameplay leans on platforming, which may be a little too bare for those that enjoy more from these aspects of play. You’ll traverse the environment with the use of jumping, double jumping, and seeking out shortcuts that can be uncovered in a variety of different ways. It’s enjoyable thanks to how gorgeous and colourful the game is, which goes hand in glove with the excellent soundtrack, but again might be somewhat dialled down for players that want more challenge on this front.
On your travels you’ll stumble across a selection of areas such as jungles, cities, carnivals and more – all of which are just as fleshed out and interesting as the rest. You can also seek out the previously mentioned collectables, which comes in the form of filmstrips. These are not mandatory but they do indeed add some lore elements for you to soak up and get a better understanding of the roots within Wuppo. The combat, or at least the way that it functions, is as interesting as the rest of game. Wuppo houses a twin-stick shooting mechanic that has you placing a range of objects on your head and utilising these pieces to blast your opponents to smithereens. The same hat-wearing mechanic is used elsewhere in the game to achieve certain perks, but as far as combat goes alone, there’s a decent portion of firepower at your disposal.
Combat isn’t at all hard to get to grips with, but it’s the boss battles that will give you a run for your proverbial money. Most of these encounters will see you stumbling upon them during general exploration, and despite being memorable and fun, they do slap you in the face with dollop of increased difficulty. In return for your hard work you’ll either get a nice wad of cash or a filmstrip, meaning yes, some boss battles can be circumvented entirely. If you do find that you struggle on any of these encounters, Wuppo dishes up the ability to take on side-quests in return for new weaponry as well as upgrades. Regardless of the harsh battles that lay in wait, Wuppo remains charming and wonderful at all times. Even when you’re blasting foes it’s hard not fall head over heels with all the colour splashes and cute character models. It truly is a credit to the two man team.
With combat at platforming to the side, Wuppo does serve some pretty mind boggling puzzle scenarios too. These puzzles are not too difficult to overcome when you put your mind to it, but it’s clear that the devs have put some thought into the experience rather than lazily gating your progression with simple brain teasers, present in many other recent platformer games. My only problem with the game (outside of the steep climb in difficulty during boss battles) is that the story doesn’t really deliver anything meaningful. This is a game that has had so much care and attention put into it, that the lack of decent story just feels out of character. Sure, we have a basic story to carry us over, but for a game that’s jam-packed with quality, I was a bit let down on this score. Nevertheless, it’s not enough to pull this game short of greatness.
Wuppo is a sensational experience that’s packed with content, charm and an endearing soundtrack that runs deep in the colourful design. I found issues with the difficulty spike during boss encounters, and I was a bit let down by the lack of a solid story, but these small faults are not enough to pull the game down from greatness. The platforming sections are well struck and the combat just as much so, heightened that little bit further by the collection of items and collectables that you can pick up to achieve meaningful results. Wuppo pulled in quite a following when released on PC last year, and after putting in quite some time with the experience, I can see precisely why that is. This game may not break any moulds, but it’s a well crafted adventure that will dish out heaps of fun nevertheless.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.