We rarely get games that look ‘different’ these days as a lot of indie developers favour the simplistic look over the realistic and AAA developers do the opposite. Knuist & Perzik have given us a game in the artistic style of games such as Yoshi’s Island crossed with some gameplay mechanics of Steamworld Dig. Wuppo is a hard game to describe, it’s kinda like a Metroidvania 2D RPG presented in a colouring-book style. The whole world is so bright and colourful overground and dark but still artistic whilst underground in caves and holes. Throughout your adventure, you will meet many ‘Wums’ (the race of the protagonist) as well as make friends with new species, ward off progressively more difficult enemies and solve various environmental puzzles. Let’s find out if this game is ‘Wuppo’ or ‘Wupp-no’…
Our main protagonist is a fat blob. Seriously, you begin as a rather chubby, lazy Wum who does nothing but sit in his room at ‘Wum House’ and orders ice cream via the front desk. One day, the manager of Wum House gets annoyed with him for spilling ice cream all over the lobby, the elevator and the hallway so he orders security to throw him over the balcony and banishes him from Wum House. Your first task is now to find your way home, however, this won’t be an easy task as you can’t just turn around and go back in, you must go in the opposite direction and face all the evil creatures which inhabit the forest. However, along the way, you will create some new friends, solve some puzzles and even fight a few bosses before you are allowed back in via the underground.
Once you arrive home, you don’t receive the welcome you feel you deserve after all the hard work you have just put into getting back into the building. You are allowed to stay in Wum House for two days, after that you must be gone, so you decide to go to Popocity, the biggest city in the Wums’ world. In order to get there though you need a train ticket which will involve talking to everyone in Wum House and doing a bit of exploring to find one. Once at the train station they use a mechanic I love, the train can actually leave without you and then you have to wait for the next one which is every few minutes. This reminds me of games like Shenmue where you have to wait for things at certain times and if you wanted the bus then you had to wait for a bus based on the timetable. It’s a nice little feature that helps to give the world life and routine.
Once in Popocity, you have a brand new selection of side missions, enemies, bosses and even NPCs to interact with and befriend. The thing that a lot of people will love about Wuppo happens here, you aren’t directly given a quest upon entering the City as you are allowed to go and do whatever you want via exploring and finding your own goals. The ultimate objective is to raise a certain amount of credit, but how you go about that is all up to you. I’ll leave the rest of the game a mystery as I don’t want to spoil what comes after you obtain all the credits; however, you will face-off against a boss which caused me a lot of trouble – which brings me onto my next point nicely…
There is a lot of fighting in Wuppo, I would say the game has about the same amount of combat as puzzles. The bosses can be a pain and require a few attempts to kill if you don’t have enough health items, as you need to learn the enemies patterns in order to easily defeat them. That’s right, the enemies work like old-school 2D platformers, once you’ve learnt the bosses patterns and you adapt to them, the fights get a lot easier. I loved fighting against the bosses, even though I also hated them, as they were all very different in both looks and attack style and they all required you to think about what you were doing and forced you to adapt quickly. The reason I disliked them is a petty one, I died many, many times to them whilst I was still adapting! I’m not very good at games like Bloodborne and The Surge, the enemies in this are nowhere near that level but they are brutal and can kill you if you slip up once or twice whilst in combat – which tended to frustrate me but gave me the determination to carry on and eliminate them.
Wuppo allows you to pick various difficulty levels before starting your adventure and the enemies do tend to get pretty hard later on. Your health is presented as your ‘happiness’, the sadder you get the closer to death you are (which is quite sad). However, if you do die then you will be instantly resurrected in the last watering can you jumped in as these serve as checkpoints, so I advise you jump in every one you see just in case!
Wuppo also has it’s fair share of puzzles and platforming, both work perfectly within the game. You won’t die from falling from a tall structure, but you will have to try and find your way back up there (which happened to me a lot). The puzzles aren’t too hard, but some do require you to think such as the first major puzzle which requires you to put an example of each Wum race onto pedestals in order to proceed. The only thing regarding this genre I feel the game could have done better was the map – there isn’t one, you are forced to remember where everything is and how to get back to certain places. This isn’t a big issue, but it did leave me a little confused at times and unsure of where I was going.
As per all good RPG games, you have an inventory, different weapons, usable items, appearance items and even dialogue choices. You can change the colour of the protagonist once you find the ability to and there are many different hats you can find throughout your journey. These won’t change anything but your looks, but it’s nice that it lets you do this as some RPGs don’t even offer that. Later on in the game, you can even find certain foods which changes the weight of your Wum – meaning you can return back to the big fat blob if you so choose.
In regards to dialogue choices, once you reach Popocity these will become more prominent as you choose how you wish to interact with people and situations. They are all humorous and delightful and I swear that the protagonist tends to lip sync the answer you choose! The only problem with the dialogue choices is the lack of permanent choice. If you answer another Wum with a negative answer then you can just talk to them again and the conversation will restart or some will spin the conversation into a positive as you carry on talking to them. It would have been nice if your answer was more permanent but I understand why it isn’t as it would have locked out certain things if you answered incorrectly.
The first thing you will see and notice when you start playing Wuppo is the artistic design. The game is so colourful and the graphical style makes it feel like you are playing with creations which were drawn by a toddler in a colouring-in book. Everything looks so nice and defined that I was looking forward to seeing where the game would take me next in terms of location and style. The audio is also beautifully matched with the game’s design and really fits the various communities and characters you meet along the way. It also has a dynamic soundtrack which will change as danger approaches or if you talk to certain characters. Little touches like that help make this game even more special.
Wuppo is an adorable puzzle/platformer which will last you about 10-12 hours. The enemies do get progressively more difficult so they offer a challenge to everyone, with the ability to lower the difficulty level if you find it a little too hard. The game offers a lot of chances to explore and investigate with lots of hidden dialogue and side missions which will have you laughing out loud. One of the main stand-out features of this game is also that the game won’t hold your hand and tell you what to do, you are free to do whatever you want as you work towards the ultimate goal.