Waddle Home has everything a game needs to get people interested. There are penguins, puzzles, and some kind of mysterious shark shaped camera swimming in the water around the game board (I still don’t know what it is – if anyone finds out, please comment below so that I can sleep tonight). However, the game’s interesting qualities don’t translate into a PSVR experience that many would want.
Waddle Home is a puzzle game that forces the player to maneuver penguins from a starting cage on one side of the game’s map to the other without being stopped by robots, floor traps, or walls. The penguins can only move to the right while the robots can only move to the left and neither stops moving. If the penguin is caught by one of the robots, it will return to the starting cage and await the player starting over, but the timer in the top right corner doesn’t reset. Throughout the game, there are also pink eggs set up around the map that are special items designed to offer a second goal for the player and replayability. As the player gets to higher levels, floor traps that look like teeth as well as moving walls and floors become additional obstacles.
The most interesting part of the game is the chaos that occurs in later levels when there are multiple penguins, robots, and traps on the same map. These qualities force the player to think about their moves ahead of time. The game allows for this by not starting a level until the player released the penguin from its cage. This way the player can use the shoulder buttons to look at the map from different angles and attempt to plan out future movements (this is especially useful when the player gets three separate penguins as well as multiple traps all moving at the same time).
However, this complexity is primarily lost in the game due to the small map size. The maps seem like they were designed for a mobile device and not PSVR. After some research, I’ve found that the game was originally released on the Samsung Gear VR. Now, there is nothing wrong with a port of a game from one system to the next, but the small map size meant that I solved multiple levels purly by accident and it isn’t much fun playing a puzzle game when the game solves the puzzles for you.
The length of the game is another issue, because – here comes the comment that seems to run rampant through most PSVR game reviews – it is short. It took me just 1 hour and 25 minutes to complete the entire game. Now I know what you’re saying, he is an adult and the color scheme and visuals show a game clearly designed for children. That is true, but only to a small degree, because one of the most common warnings for PSVR is that children under 12 aren’t supposed to use the headset. This means that even though I’m an adult, children over 12 are probably only going to take a little longer to complete the game than I did (not counting the levels that were solved by accident).
The game does have some replay value in pink eggs, trophies, and a timer. However, I acquired all but five of the collectible pink eggs and almost completed every trophy available for the game in the first playthrough. The one quality that would offer replay value is the timer, but that is only useful if you could share the device between each round, something that is difficult to do with the PSVR headset, but not for something…like…say… a phone, perhaps.
The controls are frustrating due to the three functions being mapped to two buttons. The first function rotates the map horizontally in order to see the map from all sides when planning movements. This function works well and allows more strategy and complexity for the player. The only problem is that some small areas on the map aren’t easy to see from any angle. It isn’t a major problem, because it only affects a couple of maps, but still a problem.
The second function is to cause the penguins to move as well as lift and lower platforms. Both functions are carried out by pressing the X button, which is fine when nothing is happening, but when the map is rotating and the penguins are moving on their own, especially over the platforms, it causes complexity to become frustration. Mapping both functions to the same button shows that the game was not designed with a controller in mind, but for something… like… say… a phone, perhaps (are you starting to see a pattern?).
The graphics are just fine, but keep in mind that the maps are small and outside of those there isn’t much to look at. Also, the story is virtually non-existent. The entire story is told through comic book style panels at three points through the 40 levels in the game. These are silent and only offer three panels at each point. The style is similar to Angry Birds and fits right at home on something… like… say… a phone, perhaps (I know the third one is obnoxious, but it had to be done to make the point).
Waddle Home PS4/PSVR Review
Waddle Home is a game designed for smart phones, but released on the PSVR. The interesting attributes like multiple moving characters, traps, and floors don’t counter balance an extremely short game with frustrating controls and small maps that players will accidentally solve. If you have a Samsung Gear VR then it's a fun puzzle game that is probably worth your time. If you have a PSVR, wait for a better puzzle game to come along.
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