A few weeks back, I had the chance to go to an event for Annapurna Interactive. While there, I was able to get some hands-on time with three of their upcoming games: Sayonara Wild Hearts, Outer Wilds, and Wattam. All three games are unique and very different from one another. One is an on-rails endless runner rhythm game; another has you explore a solar system; and the last game is all about making friends.
Sayonara Wild Hearts
Sayonara Wild Hearts was revealed at The Game Awards last year and it is described as a “pop album video game”; after playing it, I can see why.
The main attraction to the game is the marriage of gameplay and music. The soundtrack plays in unison with the gameplay. So, while you press a button to perform an action, the music demonstrates this with sound. It’s a simple idea, but it makes sense. The gameplay switches from an on-rails experience as you tally up points to get the highest score possible to small boss battles that you play through, dodging their attacks and interacting with them via quick-time events. Because the game is so simple, it isn’t hard to get into, which is a great thing.
The music adds to the gameplay because, as most games go, you can get into a rhythm and just get lost in the experience. Sayonara Wild Hearts is a simple game but everything about it from its aesthetics to the gameplay makes it a lot of fun.
Outer Wilds is a first-person space simulator developed by Mobius Digital. The game is described as an open world mystery about a solar system trapped in an endless time loop. The biggest thing about the game is the hand-crafted, fully dynamic solar system. Each planet is unique from one another; they are all packed with hidden locations that change with the passage of time.
You play as the newest recruit of Outer Wilds Ventures, a space program searching for answers in the strange, constantly evolving solar system, and you come equipped with a variety of unique gadgets. Some are used to navigate the solar system, like a space suit that has an oxygen tank that limits how long you spend outside of your ship or a scanner that allows you to track down mysterious signals.
The other major thing about the game is the time loop. Every twenty minutes, the game goes back to the beginning but it remembers everything you have done up until that point. It then gives you the opportunity to go out and see how further you get before it happens again and again and so on. This game is all about exploration – from the planets in the solar system to the ancient writings you decode to what you are able to do because the game is very physics focused.
Everything leads to new discoveries which in turn may lead to more mysteries, making the game very intriguing because you want to know what you’ll find next.
Wattam is easily the strangest of these three games. This game comes from Keita Takahaski, who created Katamari Damacy. It starts out and puts you in control of a character named the Mayor. He is lonely because a huge explosion has blasted the world. As such, as stated before, the game is technically all about making friends. To do that, you make them interact with one another. This could be as simple as holding hands, or just creating a colorful explosion which you can do with the Mayor’s hat. As you make more friends, different ways of interacting with one another open up.
It’s a very charming game that is built like a puzzle game. You constantly want to see what happens when you make things interact with one another. As you do, the world seems to open up as more and more people want to join in on the fun of just having a good time.
All three games are due to come out sometime in 2019.