When people send their prayers, hopes and wishes up to whatever higher power (or lack thereof) they believe in, very few expect an immediate or even concrete answer. The best we usually hope for is something that can tangentially be related to whatever we asked about, and, if possible, within a week to a month of the sent prayer. For example, I think I asked for a sign that I should quit my job a few years back, and my answer was doing my expenses and realizing I would be out of money approximately two weeks before the next paycheck arrived. Keep in mind, I’m terrible with money, so to realize that was actually like God reaching down and tapping the empty jar that was my bank account. But we all have different ideas, and the take by WILL: A Wonderful World is certainly an interesting and novel premise to both fuel some cool gameplay and an intriguing narrative.
You are Myth, a God that looks down over the people (and happens to look like a cute Chinese girl). You’re assisted by Will, a horned, shaggy animal that can talk and is definitely not a dog, despite looking like a dog. In the world where you rule, there’s an urban myth that those who write down their pleas to God and hold them up at midnight whilst praying will have their destiny changed. It’s an oddly specific urban myth, and it’s an oddly specific way that you interact with the people down on Earth from around the globe. Myth cannot interact and completely change the fates of people: she(?) can only use what they’ve told her and try to finesse the situation with a little altered state. The end result is a change in their destiny, and, potentially, it will affect the lives of people all around them. Watch as the prayers and dreams of several different people, literally from around the world, begin to interweave and collide in fascinating, horrifying and heartbreaking ways. But it’s not a cruel action: it’s simply the Will of the world.
WILL: A Wonderful World is equal parts visual novel and puzzle game, with a greater emphasis put on the visual novel part. Every day, you’ll receive some letters from the people down below, asking you questions and letting you know what’s going on. From the young girl with a brooding art teacher/neighbor to the young boy who changed countries specifically to stalk her, from the immigrant that’s leaving Mexico for a better life to the Korean police officer trying to make a difference, there are stories that comes from all perspectives and writing styles. No one ever writes to you when they’re having a good day: it’s always something terrible that’s happened. But, by arranging chunks of text within the story, you can turn the outcome around. For example, in the first letter you receive, the light bulb goes out on the tennis court, a young girl walks home, and then finds out she forgot her key. But if you can make it so the light bulb goes out in the alley instead, she’ll have remembered her key and the story takes on a new arc. Very soon, you start mixing and matching letters from a couple of people at once, taking sentences from Person A and inserting them into the fate of Person B, thus shaping brand new realities.
If this sounds confusing, I assure you it absolutely isn’t. WILL: A Wonderful World doesn’t allow you to completely rewrite and reshape a letter in a crazy, haphazard and time invested way. You only are allowed to move certain blocks of text: most of the letters (especially in the beginning) will be static and unable to move. As time goes on, you’ll be given more access to greater amounts of the letters, but it never devolves into a complete editing nightmare. In fact, stipulations crop up to restrict the placement and keeping things from getting illogical. So if two people hit the tennis ball at different speeds, you can’t have one person hit at two speeds and the other person not hit it at all. That’s simply not fair. WMY Studio made sure that the game never breaks, but only creates a multitude of realities that are better or worse for everyone.
Firstly, I do adore the concept of the game. Myth and Will are two great characters, with Myth conveniently having amnesia to serve as the backdrop as to why Will is explaining everything to her that she’s supposedly been doing for a millennia. As we see more about the characters that we watch over, we witness Myth’s innocence and curiosity over their choices, language and ideas slowly evolve into compassion and emotion. You don’t get to really “role play” this game, but you do have a chance to be the kind of God that you want to be based on the choices you make. You can give characters Bad Endings with almost every letter just for effect and to find out what terrible things could happen. However, you’ll get the most out of the game (and only really be able to progress) when you get the S rank, which is the best possible ending. Still, it’s fun to find out what could have happened, or at least it was until suicide became a very real side story that you have to deal with and having it crop up several times.
But the game never really reaches this point of insane difficulty due to the construct of the system. When you make a bad pairing, you simply can try again. If the next remix you make is basically the same bad pairing but slightly different, you might not even get new text results, just a repeat of the previous screen. You have the possibility to get a “Gold Star” for finding out all the endings that each letter provides, and that’s really simple to get. WILL: A Wonderful World tries to puff out its chest and boast a “Lunatic” difficulty, wherein you’ll get no hints as to what would be the best thing for finding the correct ending, but even this falls a bit flat. There’s no harm in just retrying again and again, so the incentive to try to get it right on the first swing doesn’t exist. Moreover, by the time the game starts to ramp up and really get tricky with the “logical” answers for what needs to be done, you’ll be pretty invested in the characters and their thinking styles, so it definitely gives you a massive leg up.
As a visual novel at the core, WILL: A Wonderful World definitely succeeds in keeping my attention and making me care about the characters and the story at hand. You don’t just meet the whole cast at once: more branches slowly sprout as the individual stories get longer and more detailed, and the whole thing really becomes this magnificent weave of tales from around the globe. You’re not surprised when family and friends meet up with each other in different parts of the world, but you are glad to finally have that moment of “AHA” when things begin to click and characters have their stories directly interact instead of tangentially. You end up with a huge number of ideas to keep in mind, plenty of different outcomes to balance, and, best of all, quite a few hours in gameplay overall. By having multiple endings, players keep curious with what could be and what will come.
Add in a really beautiful, atmospheric soundtrack and some good visuals overall, and WILL: A Wonderful World is another solid entry into the “visual novel by proxy” game genre. While it’s certainly not a traditional read, the writing style and branches in gameplay make it compelling and worth trying. I absolutely recommend it to people who find the regular “sit back, watch and read” a tad boring and dry. After all, there’s a wonderful world out there: why not shape it to be the best it can?
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.