Wayward Strand






Genre: Adventure   

Developer & Publisher: Ghost Pattern             

Released: September 15, 2022              

Requirements: Operating System, Windows 10

Processor:  2.0 Ghtz

Memory:  4 GB RAM

Graphics:  DirectX 10 or better

Storage:  5 GB available space
















By flotsam

Wayward Strand

Ghost Pattern

Hailing from down my way and featuring local accents and idioms, Wayward Strand is many things, ultimately an engaging piece of heartfelt storytelling.

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.

At 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.

I 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 us.

It 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 attention.

I played on:

OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit

Processor: Intel i7-9700K 3.7GHz

RAM: Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4 32GB

Video card: AMD Radeon RX 580 8192MB




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