Woven Review

Woven, a relaxing adventure puzzle game developed by Alterego Games & published by Stickylock Studios. Released in November 2019 this family friendly puzzle game aims to have families working together to solve the mystery of Glitch. Glitch is a metal firefly who has lost his memory. Controlling the main protagonist Stuffy the patchwork elephant you must travel through 5 colourful fabric worlds. You are tasked with finding the collectibles & piece together Glitch’s story one memory at a time.

This 3D adventure puzzle game will have you searching high & low to find those elusive patterns. Lumber around the landscape with Stuffy, enjoy taking in the view, but always heed Glitch’s visual clues as he is the greatest tool to discovering all the missing collectibles.

The story consists of 5 chapters, as each chapter comes to its conclusion you become a little clearer as to why Stuffy has been isolated, and abandoned by his fellow stuffies.

During each chapter you must find Blueprint machines, they will give Stuffy a new appearance, each new part has a special action associated with it. The special actions are essential to completing the numerous puzzles that you encounter on your journey. Locating these Blueprint machines is imperative in order to finish each level.

Once you find a machine you must complete a guitar hero-esque mini game. I found once you understood the basic principle, this was a very easy task to complete. Once you have obtained your blueprint you must use a sewing machine to adjust the body parts & patterns if you so wish. All machines in the game can only be activated with the assistance of Glitch, so both their fates are beautifully intertwined.

The gameplay that is presented by Alterego Games is a very simple concept. An open world map with minimum direction, you are free to explore & obtain as many or as few patches that you wish. Few of the collectibles have any major impact on game progression, & those that are required are generally conveniently located near to the area of the puzzle. This method of approach from the developers created a lovely relaxed & slow paced game, one which children can enjoy playing under the guidance of an adult, I’ll expand on that later in the review.

This loose guidance of gameplay was a big hit & a massive cause of frustration, I’ll explain why; with no restriction the feeling of time & rushing was removed, my kids loved wondering around & exploring. They really felt a sense of achievement when they stumbled across a collectible to scan. Another big plus was the full custom choice for Stuffy. He very rarely stayed one colour for long, though this attractive fashion show had no impact on the game but did keep my children entertained as they controlled their multicoloured elephant. So the downsides, unfortunately there are a few; An open world game with collectibles should have some form of navigation & tracking, Woven has neither. For those that wish to collect everything, you do not know if you have all the items until you finish the level. No map means you don’t know exactly where you have been & if you have travelled across the level to adjust Stuffy’s appearance, then you have to stumble back to where you were. There are a number of moments of no return in each level, if you happen to wander into one you will receive no warning & the game will progress. All the collectibles that you have failed to find will be lost, the only way to find the missing patterns is to start the whole game again.

As all blueprints are interchangeable at a sewing machine you have to constantly travel between the puzzle you are stuck at & the nearest sewing machine in order to equip the correct part. This meant an incredible amount of traversing across the map. This became increasingly frustrating if you lost your way, or you had equipped the wrong part.

None of these negatives are game breaking but they just make the game unnecessarily difficult to play. The positive spin I can add to this is that the game is clearly aimed at families & as the navigation around the world can be confusing, it gives you an excuse to play the game with the kids & spend time together all doing what you enjoy. This is also extended to the puzzles throughout all the levels. Though a considerable amount were straight forward, a number were not. The only way a child could succeed would be to have guidance from an older sibling or adult.

One of the continual high points for Woven is the soft but strong rhyming narrative that forms the backbone of the story. Voiceover artist David Seys does an incredible job delivering the tale in verse. Listening to the words it reminded me of numerous bedtime stories I have to currently read. Alongside the narrative the music & sound effects are fantastic. A continual use of piano music helps maintain the relaxed atmosphere, whilst the sound of Stuffy’s soft crunching fabric steadily echoes as he explores the world around him.

The control system used is extremely simplistic & clearly explained at the beginning of the game with a basic tutorial. Glitch & Stuffy have different actions which are controlled on the left side of the controller for Glitch & right side for Stuffy.

Graphically the colour palette used is a vivid explosion. Every scene is bright & bold. The characters are easily identifiable & the paths are generally well marked out. The cut scenes used flow well & a number of times they made me chuckle as they were supported so well with the narration. For the vast graphical positives unfortunately there is a negative, invisible walls that block paths, also small flowers that are impassible, this prevents the simplest of journeys being completed. Like the other issues this was not game breaking, nor did it make me want to put the controller down, it was something that I learned to live with & work around. It was just unfortunate as the game prides itself on creating a relaxing atmosphere & you end up exasperated as you are repeatedly caught on nothingness, not going far at all.

What I want to touch on next is a few elements I believe could have been tightened up to make the game flow a bit better. I’ve already commented on the blueprints & the fabrics/colours to collect. The reason I’m returning to this is I believe they are not all necessary, other than 5 or 6 major patterns, & a handful of blueprints the others are not required unless you are aiming to complete the full achievement list. I felt collecting the hidden items was a bit of a grind, and without requiring them they could easily be ignored and you can still complete the game with ease.

I really enjoyed my time in the knitted world created by Alterego Games. A game that isn’t exactly prefect, but for its few shortcomings it has so many more positives. If you have children this could be the gem that you are looking for. A game that allows you just to sit back & enjoy playing. The developers have successfully filled a particularly underrepresented genre.

As the warm narrative takes you on a journey of discovery will you solve Glitch’s mystery? Can you find out where the stuffies have gone? I’d certainly recommend grabbing a copy of the game & sewing up those loose ends.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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Woven Review
  • Gameplay - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Graphics - 8/10
    8/10
  • Sound - 9/10
    9/10
  • Replay Value - 4/10
    4/10
User Review
0 (0 votes)
Comments Rating 0 (0 reviews)
Overall
7/10

Summary

A 3D adventure puzzle game that allows you complete freedom to explore & discover. Solve the mystery surrounding both Glitch & Stuffy in this beautifully woven & relaxing fabric world.

Pros

Amazing narrative,
Easy to pickup controls,
Varying degrees of difficulties in puzzles,
Vibrant & bold colours & styles.

Cons

No map, or collectibles guidance,
Invisible walls block progress,
Blueprints & patterns are mainly defunct,
No warning of point of no return in each level.