Review: Balan Wonderworld

Balan Wonderworld is a lot, but it's mainly a game that has all the craziness aside and tries to embrace these weird elements. But, is it a successful adventure for the players? Read it in our review!

Balan Wonderworld is essentially a platformer, with a mascot, of course. This mascot obviously bears the name Balan . The game was co-developed by Arzest, a studio that also worked on Hey! Pikmin and Mario and Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games . Square Enix recently released this game for a number of consoles, we played the game on PS5. The game should have a high budget, but it really doesn't feel that way at all. Why? Let's explain!

Bales Wonderworld

You start the game with a short character selection, where you have as much choice as in Pokemon Sword & Shield . This means you pick a gender and a skin color, period. Then you end up in a weird cinematic that was quite unclear to me, but I like a bit of mystery, so come up with a cool new platformer. Soon you will be introduced to Balan, the mascot. He is a kind of host for his wonderful world. Furthermore, you have no idea what is going on, that is the case throughout the entire game.

You end up in a kind of hub, where it's up to you to collect collectibles that turn this hub into a somewhat nicer hub. Every world has a kind of story, where you hardly have an idea of what the game is trying to tell you. What is the goal? What's the message? Why am I playing this game? Hi developer? Anyway, each level introduces new elements, which I'll go into in a moment. In any case, the way of storytelling was strange to me, poorly thought out and above all unclear.

How does it play then?

Balan Wonderworld is a mixed bag in terms of gameplay. It has pretty good elements, but is essentially a boring platformer with controls from 2008. The good elements are mainly in the weirdness. The worlds have a certain weirdness, which I personally appreciate. One minute you're fighting a tiger with a tornado as a body, the next you're dancing with farmers. In that regard, Balan has a certain weirdness that attracted me. You will find several costumes through the map, each of which has its own playing style, the game also caught my interest here. However, so little innovation was done that some outfits were simply superfluous. Having a lot of different outfits is great, but not if the map doesn't adapt to it.For example, the outfits themselves would have had much more impact in the world of Crash Bandicoot 4 than they do in Balan's wonderful world.

Each world consists of two levels, where you must collect stars to restore your hub. You can also find Balan figurines, this is even necessary, because otherwise you can't go to new worlds. The gameplay also has plenty of beginner mistakes. This way you can pick up the same costume twice, so that your other costumes go back to your wardrobe. You can only take 3 outfits with you. So you accidentally jump into the crystal of that costume? Good luck, you're wearing the same thing twice now! I would have preferred that the game had fewer outfits, but had a world that was adapted to the gameplay of these outfits.

The controls aren't anything to write home about either. When I do know what to do, I still don't have fun with the game at all. It's simply not a 'nice' experience. The level design itself is also really far below par. Some assets look pretty cool, for the rest it's like playing a Playstation 2 title with backwards compatibility. The game isn't even very challenging, the biggest challenge is mainly in understanding what the game wants from you, because it doesn't let you know anything.

Graphics and sound

This is where things are somewhat better arranged. Balan Wonderworld is not an ugly game, the character designs are not that bad either. The game is colorful and has enough recognizable characters and elements. The outfits you wear also look just fine from an aesthetic point of view! The performance is also more than fine on the Playstation 5, I never had problems with frame rates or anything. Also, there aren't that many bugs in the game. The music, while quite fun, keeps repeating itself as you play. After 10 minutes I was already completely disturbed by it. The fun? You can't turn off the music!

Verdict

Balan Wonderworld is a game that has many ideas, but not a handful of well-developed ideas. Everything feels half-assed and just plain not fun. The level design is terrible, as is the storyline. The game is colorful and looks great, Balan as a mascot also sticks in your head in terms of character design. However, the gameplay is just not fun at all. Furthermore, the game is very unclear and for the first few hours you have no idea what is happening, or what you actually have to do…

 

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