The Wild at Heart is an indie adventure developed by Moonlight Kids and published by Humble Bundle. It launched May 20th 2021 for Xbox One Series S|X, Xbox One, and PC. It’s clear as soon as you start that The Wild at Heart you are in for a beautiful experience. The art is absolutely stunning, like you’re playing a living illustration the entire time. Almost every area you explore is a different outdoor setting, the woods, ocean, an ice area, etc. and they all are charming and memorable in their own ways. I really don’t think words can describe how fantastic the art is, but the screen caps speak for themselves.
The Wild at Heart’s music is just as high quality as the art. It’s equal parts atmospheric, emotional, and beautiful. When you’re exploring the world during the day, it’s ambient. When it gets towards night, and you’re in danger, the music is tense and foreboding. When the story comes into play, or something major is happening, it swells epically. Needless to say the sound design and music add a lot to an already amazing experience.
Presentation aside, the game is incredibly fun and relaxing. It’s an adventure game, using Pikmin-like gameplay for combat and puzzle solving. You meet little forest sprites that will join you on your adventure, they follow you around and you can throw them at enemies to fight them, throw them at obstacles to break them, etc. As you play you unlock sprites with different abilities, a fire one to burn plants for example. The little sprites are really adorable, and the open world you explore with them is immersive and incredibly fun. The controls are also incredibly intuitive and the game introduces everything to you at a perfect pace.
The game also has a lot of super fun side content that encourages you to really explore the world for hidden secrets. There is a crafting and resource management element that makes every new item you find feel like a great discovery. Throwing random things together to create a new crafting recipe and get an awesome new item is always exciting. You also have the ability to upgrade your character with certain special items you can find throughout your adventure, and it creates a great sense of progression. As you play you also unlock more abilities from the items you craft, or by discovering new forest sprites with new abilities. Gradually these abilities open up the entire world to you, and make you want to go back to previous areas to unlock secrets with your new abilities.
The Wild at Heart also tells a story, and does it in an interactive way like only a video game can. You play initially as a kid who has run away from home (eventually you play as two kids). The backstory about why the kids ran away, their plan etc. is the set up and is slowly expounded upon throughout the course of the game. After setting out from home though, a more mystical plot takes over. You meet forest spirits who say you are a chosen hero meant to save their world, classic video game stuff. While the main plot is cute and fun, the overarching plot about the kids is much more emotional, and heartfelt. The characters you meet along the way are all unique and charming, and the world the game builds is one you could get lost in for hours without noticing.
Overall, The Wild at Heart delivers both a beautiful artistic experience, and a fun one. It is a wonderful game to relax with, and well worth the price. You could easily get dozens of hours of enjoyment, and there is something here for everyone. Amazing art and music, a heartfelt story, an immersive open world to explore, and incredibly fun gameplay. Every detail in The Wild at Heart creates an endearing charm few games can match. It also is one of the strongest games I’ve ever played with in the niche Pikmin-like genre, a genre that has very few titles, and even fewer amazing ones. The Wild at Heart incorporates so much that there is something for every gamer to enjoy here, and the game is accessible to be fun for people of all ages. It’s incredibly rare for me to struggle to find critiques of the games I play, even when I play the greatest games out there. Yet I really couldn’t think of any problems I had with this game, and I can’t recommend it enough.
Score: 9 out of 10
Reviewed on Steam