Wattam Review: Wattam I to do With You?
Wattam is one of those games that should probably become part of a mandatory syllabus in gaming. It’s a game that perfectly captures a feeling while using very few words.
There’s no violence to indulge in, no racing or, other nonsense, and Wattam's puzzles are fun rather than frustrating. The point of the game isn’t to be hard or even challenging; it’s simply meant to be.
Wattam exists solely to be played, and playing it will put a smile on your face. Wattam is here purely to inspire joy, and it succeeds in every possible metric with that in mind.
Wattam Review: Wattam I to do With You?
If you’re unfamiliar with Wattam, it’s understandable. The title comes from the mind of Keita Takahashi, who created the Katamari games. Takahashi makes experiences for players to take in, rather than games. It sounds a little pretentious, but it seems to just be his design philosophy.
It doesn’t matter how you specifically interact with any of his worlds, just that those worlds are entertaining — and a bit different.
The distinction here is that Wattam is a more emotional journey than Katamari. While Katamari has you rolling up balls of stuff to create new celestial bodies because your dad is a layabout, Wattam has you reconnecting with old friends, and solving their problems along the way.
You start off as a green cube with a hat called the Mayor. He’s all alone at first until he discovers his friend Stone. You then find Rock, and you continue to discover new friends as you play through the game.
Your interactions with the world vary depending on the character you’re controlling, and, as such, switching between them is incredibly easy, and also vital to your success. You can hold hands, dance around in circles, and occasionally do other context-sensitive things like eat, poop, and flush, depending on what you’re controlling.
You can also — and this is the most important thing — lift your hat up revealing an explosive present which can send you rocketing through the sky while laughing.
Explosions Unite Us
What makes it so enjoyable is the incredible undercurrent of hope flowing throughout the game. Every time a new friend comes back to you, you get a welcome back message, and as you uncover the mysteries of the world and its setting, there’s always talk of cherishing the things that you have, even in the face of adversity or loss.
I can’t talk about a lot of Wattam without spoiling it, but the game often feels like a hodgepodge of multiple titles instead of one. You flit between different one-off mechanics just because you can. You’re welcome to use those mechanics in your time with the game, but they’re not needed again after their initial use. It’s fascinating, and it’s fleeting — and it's one of themes that Wattam deals with.
Though I may be reading into some of it, the tones weaving through Wattam are all fairly obvious. I could easily talk about how it dips into the idea of rebirth and cycles of karma. I could talk about how there is an obvious reference to the myth of the Tower of Babel, and how language can separate us, but explosions can unite us in luminous, colorful light.
Wattam Review — The Bottom Line
- More charming than Paul Rudd
- Wonderful music
- Good story
- A bit short
- The gameplay won't appeal to everyone
Wattam manages to deal with a multitude of things while wrapped up in an adorable and vivid shell. It’s incredibly easy on the eyes, and the trademark charm of Takahashi is present throughout. Plus, the soundtrack capital "S" Slaps. It flows brilliantly as you go from place to place and even character to character. In a phrase, it’s wonderful.
Wattam is a delight to play, to watch, and to take part in. It tells a story full of hope in a world that is so frequently without it, and it's all about connections (it's not Death Stranding, so stop it).
The happiness you'll get from playing Wattam is reason enough to embark on this strange quest, but the emotions you'll feel along the way are the true gift that Wattam gives. It is a world that asks you only to accept it's strange logic and rewards you with pure joy, and that's a really good deal.
[Note: Annapurna Interactive provided a copy of Wattam for the purpose of this review.]