Playing Wayward Strand is like navigating a detailed clockwork system. It reminds me of those cuckoo clocks where one tiny door opens, showing two mechanical dolls that come together as quickly as possible. Characters are set on strict schedules, often ignoring you, but regardless whether they''re there there or not. The world continues to spin.
In Wayward Strand, how you choose to spend that time is pretty important in a game that makes a point of waiting for you.
Casey, a fourteen-year-old woman who is spending her summer vacation at her mother''s workplace in Australia, has asked her to go to each of the patients'' rooms and spend some time with them, assisting them out if they need anything, but instead giving them a little help. Over the course of three days, youll soon be looking at the tales, stories, and gossip of this airborne retirement home.
Casy is a bit of a nerdy teenager, but the game does a great job of capturing the respect that we have in old age (also known as no longer giving up a toss about what people think of you). Some of them are sweet as a tea with four sugars in it, but they also have zero shame in expressing genuine friendship. As the mundane small talk develops into actual friendship, you learn their stories, their exciting pasts, and why they are on the airship.
It soon becomes clear that Wayward Strand isn''t generating one vast narrative, but quite a few little ones. These all develop in real-time, and you may engage with them whenever you want. For a hospital filled with old people there''s a lot of activity, and discovering the unknown visitor is a big part of the fun. Who was the hospital founder last week?
I love me some gossip, and these pocket-sized mysteries fueled me throughout my time with Wayward Strand. It''s interesting that different phrases of conversation have helped you keep up with the games'' diverging stories. It''s like you have been dropped into an episode of Neighbours, but it would be true if all of the characters had retired to an airborne old folks'' house.
I''m sure you can be extremely nosey, but that''s something I thrive off. You can peek into rooms and eavesdrop on conversations, and accidentally overhear phone exchanges. Since everybody is on their own schedule, it often feels like youre trying to navigate a massive spiral of moving parts. I immediately finished up my conversation and scurried off to eavesdrop. Sorry Ida, you can tell me about your knitting another time.
On your first playthrough (and I recommend multiple playthroughs) you can''t really plan for these moments, but instead of getting major FOMO, it makes the airborne hospital feel alive with activity. It becomes quickly apparent that youre going to miss some important details - after all, you can''t be anywhere at once - but with each playthrough theres more to learn. There may be a branch of someone''s story that you missed the first time around, or a whole plot thread that completely luded you
I''m not sure whether or not there are manual saves, meaning you''ll need to play each in-game day in one go in advance to ensure your progress is saved. However, each day is only about an hour to play, with the game being around 4-hour long from beginning to finish. The game also appears to be taking the responsibility of limiting no one very seriously.
I ended the day feeling completely refreshed. I''m grateful for the opportunity to spend a couple of hours navigating the hallways, patient rooms, and airship innards in real-time. This is a fun skill, and it''s a way to go from there until you''ve got it all together, but I''m grateful to find out what I have learned from it. After my handful of playthroughs, it honestly felt like I had found the center of this clockwork machine.