Ever find yourself in a horrible looking lab with a weird gun and random people talking to you? Happens more often in video games than people think. Weaverse by Yellow Cat-Rabbit fits snugly in that genre of puzzle platforming with interesting and mysterious narration. Still, it delivers some impressive visuals while also lacking deeper and the more meaningful gameplay.
Waking up ambiguously, finding a weapon and slowly piecing together what’s happening in a mysterious world is a fairly normal trope. Taking heavily from the introduction to the first Portal game and others like it, this game sends you on a series of missions and enter a couple of diverse places to progress conversations and understandings of who you are and what has happened in the world. The narrative is minimal and the writing simple. I would have loved to see a grander reason to play the game in general with more actual conversation and more tangible, meaningful NPCs.
As I usually do, I’m going to break up the gameplay into sections. Weaverse has two major sections and a third tiny one.
The most important and most prominent is exploration. The places that a player goes to are all very good looking, and have a great sense of mystery and ambiguity. This may come from the simple and sometimes empty levels, but at the same time making the game feel slightly spooky as the player walks around. This game is not open world, the levels are all closed and not especially large, but moving from point A to point B looking for switches, resources, exits, and entrances is mostly well-paced and kind of interesting. There aren’t a lot secrets to be found, extra lore or vast beautiful environments, but the actual movement and exploration/platforming feels good.
The second part of the gameplay is the combat. There are a number of different enemies and their only purpose is to kill you, they seem literally like statues that only move/appear to attack you whenever you get near. The actual gunplay is okay, but there is no reloading or cool down or much of a difficulty in the gunplay. The enemies just run at you and shoot straight at you, and there is no cover or sneaking. This all means that the combat feels unimportant or meaningless. If an enemy happens to be close to you and you can’t turn and shoot them full of bullets fast enough, you will die. Or if you can’t see them and they shoot with a few shots before you can react, you’re dead and have to start said area over. If there was more stealth, a dodge mechanic or a larger health bar for enemies, then the combat would feel more like real gameplay, but as for now, combat seems to be a reason to kill you and make you start over or just slightly startle you.
The last tiny section to talk about would be the puzzle mechanics. In reality, there are virtually no puzzle mechanics. The platforming is a little interesting, but there isn’t enough of it to feel like a real platforming game. It mostly just feels like “I need to get to the next door and I have to double jump here and here and here to get there,” there isn’t much of a skill or imaginative level design. There are various series of levers or switches to activate, but again, it is not like cracking a code. Those switches and levers and other things are just ways to open the next door, and so you have to run around find a switch, run around find another switch, and run around to the final switch until the next door opens or the level ends or to begin the next level.
The game looks crazy good. The lighting, textures and areas all look ridiculously good. The enemies could use some more personality and better animations. Same with the NPCs that you converse with, they are fairly dull. But the actual objects and general visuals are really good.
At first, the music, ambient noise, sound effects, voices are pretty good and give a strong sense of a grim environment. But the sound effects all begin to repeat very heavily and then there will be total silence for long periods of time. Overall it’s OK, but it really loses its flavor after the first couple of minutes.
After playing through the game once, there is no major reason to come back at all. The story is not extremely engaging, the combat, gameplay, and puzzles have very little value after being completed once.
What It Could Have Done Better
The visuals for this game are really great and the movement and basic gameplay are all really solid, but I think a lot more time in developing and focusing on either one aspect of the gameplay would have made the game a lot better. If the game was a much more complex puzzle game or more high intensity and higher skill shooter game, the game would’ve been far better.
Amazing visuals can only get a game so far. More puzzle-y puzzles and more shooting that felt fair or real would have made this game a really fun play through. The game has more of a “tech-demo” vibe and a good stepping point for future projects from the creators then a fully realized game and project.