Switch version tested
Review code provided
Meet Stuffy, big-eared protagonist of tactile woollen adventure aptly named Woven. A fun new title that looks to win you over with charm, storytelling and character design. The big family-friendly visuals are reminiscent of the excellent Little Big Planet series and Unraveled. Woven is here to pull at those heartstrings and currently available on Steam, Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo Switch.
This story-driven romp introduces Stuffy, an elephant-like creature, who lives in a land that was once thriving with his own kind. Suddenly one day everyone disappeared leaving poor old Stuffy confused and alone. He gingerly walks in from afar and thus begins our epic adventure expertly told via a gruff rhythmic voice-over. Queue the all-important backstory setup, as you begin to digest Stuffy’s surroundings he soon finds something out of sorts, a flying machine called Glitch. In a world of soft and fuzzy, the inclusion of mecha is an interesting spin as the pair soon become friends. Glitch follows wherever Stuffy explores helping traverse the land in search of memories lost. Just what exactly has gone on and why were these two destined to meet we do not know but what lies ahead is to be discovered.
The game plays somewhat open-world although the story beats are fairly linear, you can explore and take in the scenery if you like. Simple puzzles and challenges are littered around to overcome and help keep you entertained in this journey of discovery. Woven is splattered with collectable items in each of the main areas, blueprints of new designs and textured fabrics to change up Stuffy’s style. It pays to spend that extra time locating all the extras.
With each new blueprint found comes a new set of abilities and appearance. Previously locked areas can be accessed if you have the power to jump higher or strength to move that boulder blocking a pathway. Abilities are mapped to the triggers, on pressing brings up a wheel system and the sticks are used to select each. How you configure each of Stuffy’s limbs is up to you and provides variation in the gameplay. A slight frustration comes when you need to relocate to one of the portal style machines to change abilities which can mean backtracking. As you progress the missing pieces of the puzzle are drip-fed by the means of in-game cutscenes and the voiceover.
Gameplay feels a little dated in how Stuffy controls and feels. It is reminiscent of Jak and Daxter but that is by no means a bad thing just a little clunky at times. Stuffy’s head seems to have a mind of its own often focusing on a specific area as you wander by, sometimes for no real reason or because there’s a point of interest nearby. It’s hit and miss for the most part but ultimately distracting. Visually the world is bright and colour-rich married with charming character design. The woollen effect that the game is founded on causes somewhat of an issue on the Switch in handheld mode which is unfortunate to report. The appearance is often fuzzy and lacks that crisp fidelity we have come to expect. Having said that the soundtrack that accompanies is whimsical and joyful, it blends perfectly with the atmosphere that the game is putting across.
Woven on Nintendo Switch is by large a joy to play. A good story mixed with decent gameplay goes a long way in making the journey a fun experience. The age-old control limitations are evident but overall this will have a big appeal to the younger audience. With a fun new larger than life hero, it will be interesting to see where the developers take this world if we are lucky enough to see a second instalment it’s just a shame the finished product is lacking a little finesse.
TBG Score: 6.5/10
Platform: Steam, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 15/11/2019
No. of Players: 1
Category: Adventure, Action
Publisher: Alterego Games
Download link: eShop