Hailing from down my way and featuring local accents and idioms, Wayward
Strand is many things, ultimately an engaging piece of heartfelt
The game casts you in the role of Casey, a 14 year old girl on her
school holiday break in the summer of 1978. Her Mum is the head nurse at
a local hospital/care facility, situated in a once proud German made
airship tethered off the coast of Victoria in Australia. She needs help
over the coming long weekend, and turns to Casey. A short cable car ride
later, and Casey finds herself tasked to spend time with the elderly
patients, a holiday activity she hadn’t remotely imagined.
Not the most extroverted of young women, Casey nonetheless sets about
doing what she has been asked. An ulterior motive lingers; she is doing
research for an article for the school newspaper.
How diligent or otherwise Casey is at pursuing the task at hand is up to
you. Time passes, as shown on the fob-watch bottom right of screen, and
Casey could likely spend the whole three days sitting in a corner
reading quietly, ignoring the residents, the nurses and doctors, and
everything going on around her. Or she could seize the moment, and chat
and sit and spend time with the residents within the facility, getting
to know them and their tales and the gossip of the day.
Simplistically, time marches on and everyone goes about their day
irrespective of your actions. They do what elderly folk do in such
places, from the mundane to anything but. They move about, they talk
with each other, they live their lives. What you do is up to you.
You can be a fly on the wall or an interested party, flitting from
resident to resident or sticking with one or two favourites. Or with
someone who simply seems like she needs a friend, or just a someone to
be there. You can visit with them, peek in on them, listen in on
conversations, eat lunch with them or choose to sit alone, initiate
conversations about all manner of things or sit quietly and wait for
them to fill the silence. Some of the more interesting conversations I
had was by being quiet, yet at the same time I learnt lots by being
inquisitive. Each character to their own.
the end of each day you go home, having a less or more successful
interaction with your mother, and you come back in the morning. After
three days it's over. You get ready to go back to school and the
residents go on as they have for some time. You aren’t the hero; you
won’t have solved a major mystery, uncovered a huge conspiracy or saved
the world. You will have glimpsed the lives of others, shared briefly in
their days, and perhaps helped them in a variety of ways. You might have
made a friend or two, unexpectedly if you are honest with yourself, and
learnt a bit about yourself. Or maybe not.
confess I liked this a whole lot more than I thought I might. Its
openness pulled me in, and every conversation was a possibly missed one
somewhere else. I could sit quietly by myself in the lunch room, perhaps
picking up snippets from the other tables, or I could join a table and
actively engage with the other occupants, being forthright and direct
but forsaking the chatter elsewhere. Ditto throughout the three days.
There were times I caught a bit of a conversation at e.g., the nurses
station and scurried off to see what that might lead to, which might be
nothing, everyone having dispersed when I got there or being too busy to
chat. Roaming the corridors was like skimming the top off the dialogue
around you, while listening in cut out the external chatter, and
engaging directly allowed you to ask questions. Each is legitimate
action, and while it might reveal more stories or insights or locations,
none are guaranteed to lead to anything in particular but all will help
add to the tapestry of your three day’s experience.
Unlike other games with passing time that I have played, there are no
fatal points that prevent you completing the game. While I left with a
few tapestry threads that I will go back and pull – might I be able to
find a particular object for instance – I never got the sense that there
is a big reveal that I needed to uncover which would be prevented if I
wasn’t somewhere in particular at a specific time. To the contrary, you
dabble in the everyday, and what you glean or discern is what the
experience is about.
Lest it seem ordinary, to some extent it is. But that ordinariness can
also be sad or funny or heart-warming or spiritual or confronting or
triumphant or tragic. Which is life really, and all those lives around
is beautifully drawn and acted, and the score is appropriately subtle (I
did turn it down quite low). It is also respectful, both within the game
and more broadly.
You use arrows at the bottom of the game screen to move left and right.
Which scrolls the scene and causes action bubbles to pop up as you
‘explore.’ Click the bubble to e.g., enter a room or listen in on a
conversation or join the table or sit and read. Inside a room you will
generally sit down, and you can then explore the scene with the mouse,
generating further bubbles that will enable you to both converse with
the occupant and perhaps engage with items in the room. Conversations
usually have multiple possible responses, including not to answer. You
might also at times have to choose between different actions e.g., leave
the room as asked or ignore and sit down.
Casey keeps notes, and these are organised by character in the book
bottom left. You can dip in to see what you have learnt about any
particular person. You can also click the magnifying glass and then
generate a little pop-up indicating where that person is currently.
There were three floors on my airship and the pop-up would tell me
whether they were above or below or on the same level as me, and in
which direction. I confess I didn’t use this aspect, but might as I try
and follow certain arcs on subsequent plays.
One thing to be aware of is that you can’t save manually, and the game
only saves at the end of each day and again before the start of the next
one. This means that you have to play through each day in one go, which
takes around 75 minutes. I thought at first this might bug me, but the
flow of the day is definitely enhanced by not stopping and starting, and
once I started playing I didn’t ever really want to stop part way
through a day. Just be aware you need that length of time. A
post-release Patch has however introduced the capacity to load a
particular day, meaning you can e.g., start again from Day 2 or play Day
3 over and over, and midday saves are apparently being worked on.
Wayward Strand is different, surprisingly delightful, and worth your
I played on:
10, 64 Bit
Intel i7-9700K 3.7GHz
Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4 32GB
AMD Radeon RX 580 8192MB
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