The Wild Eternal is not a game for everyone. If you’re used to your first person games giving you nothing but non-stop thrills and explosions, you may not enjoy what you find. If, however, you’re open to exploratory and reflective experiences where story and life messages are more important than aiming and action – you may find yourself in love with Ilsanto’s game. This is our The Wild Eternal review.
Let’s give you the run down of the game’s setting and main crux from its own site…
“You are an old woman named Ananta who has fled a life of suffering to search for lasting peace in the Himalayan wild. After a traumatic life, you long to escape the cycle of reincarnation so that you may finally rest in peace. Your defiance of reincarnation has landed you in a lush, deserted wilderness covered in fog. A fox-shaped demigod agrees to help you escape your fate, but only if you’ll help him in return. Explore the mystical wilderness together as you embark on a meditative adventure to heal the scars of your past in hopes of avoiding an eternity of suffering.”
What follows, after the opening salvo of words that tell you your story, is a slow methodical adventure through the foggy wilderness. When the game begins, you are slow, you can’t jump, your eyes fail you… as you plod through the world you’ll meet a fox that will cryptically guide you how to gain your senses back. Basically, you’ll find glowing tributes hidden in the wild, which when offered to shrines can give you back your abilities or make obstacles passable.
As an example, early on in your adventure, you’ll find a lot of areas blocked by impassable thorns. As you explore, you’ll uncover a shrine that can grant you the ability to walk through the thorns unscathed if you have a tribute to offer. Each shrine offers new and better abilities – increase sight and hearing, the ability to fall distances without “dying” and resetting your position. You’ll get the ability to jump and run first, as without these movement through the terrain is painfully slow.
In a lot of ways, the act of upgrading Ananta through the shrines is like aging in reverse, a la Benjamin Button. You start as a pretty ruined older woman, only to get younger and more skillful as time goes on. It’s a wonderful mechanic, and since there is no combat in The Wild Eternal, it works well give you rewards for your time spent in-game.
The world itself is simply gorgeous. Wild Eternal’s cartoonish and vibrant aesthetic is at once unsettling and beautiful, and the game’s eerie fog and soundtrack do a wonderful job setting a tone of foreboding as you search for a way to end the cycle of death and life. You’re basically looking for a way to die permanently, and it’s an odd quest to take on with your demigod fox friend, but there’s something “Gandalf and Bilbo” about the journey that just makes The Wild Eternal appealing.
Ilsanjo has done an admirable job making a memorable, if short game. Most people, unless they get lost, will finish the experience in about 6-8 hours, and that’s not bad considering the $15-20 price-tag. I won’t say The Wild Eternal is very replayable, as once you’ve gone from front to back of this little tale, the surprise and wonder of exploring is pretty much spent. That said, there are few games as peaceful, meaningful, and reflective as The Wild Eternal. So if you’re looking for a title to chill out with as you learn some life lessons, give this one a shot. It’s out today on Steam.