Imagine going though a wonderful adventure in a colorful world, with beautiful, cute creatures, menacing enemies, emotional connections from the denizens you encounter and rewarding challenges that push you to your limits… that world is called Ori and the Blind Forest. Balan Wonderworld is a different place, a dark place where your inner child goes to die and all things you love about gaming die alongside it. I am not even certain that is an exaggeration.
Balan Wonderworld identifies as a platformer, but the challenges are somewhat childlike, and failure is mostly caused by not understanding what the game wanted from you due to its poor game design, rather than requiring you to improve as a gamer. The design of these levels is also archaic, a random mess with little to no consideration. In today’s day and age, it is totally unacceptable, particularly for a title with as steep a price as Balan Wonderworld. The fact that levels are often complex, including portals, high rises and winding steps makes it all the more unpleasant to experience.
The game does include some collectables that entice players to explore and be more thorough with the environment, but due to the lacklustre environments, it feels more like a chore than a challenge.
I also found the levels to make me feel physically unwell, not due to flashing lights, but rather the strange wavelike behaviour of some of the maps, the painful camera clipping or the head-scratching camera changes that occur from time to time. Although this may be something oddly specific to me or my environment, it’s an additional bit of evidence that this game simply wasn’t given the love it really needed before being released to larger audiences.
...the diversity in design, powers and impact it has on the game was actually quite refreshing.
Comparing Balan Wonderworld to something like Mario seems difficult considering how far behind it is...
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Arzest, Balan Company
PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series
26 March 2021
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