Stuffy is a lonely stuffed toy who wanders a woven world alone; that is until he meets Glitch, a metallic firefly that has lost its memories. This world is now overrun with metallic insects and it is up to the clumsy Stuffy and his new friend to explore the world and uncover this newfound threat.
Woven is a much slower-paced game than you would initially expect. Your manoeuvres are limited to moving around and performing simple actions, but you can customise these actions and abilities by swapping out body parts based off of different body part designs. These new body parts for Stuffy provides a level of depth to the gameplay that would be lost without it. To obtain them, you’ll stumble across other machines that you’re required to solve a rhythm mini-game of sorts for. Whilst these mini-games are by no means challenging, the charm of it all is enough to look upon it with fondness. Upon completing them, you can equip these body parts at knitting stations when you interact with them. Whilst doing so, I found myself going deeper down the rabbit hole to which I felt like I was creating an abomination like Frankenstein’s Monster.
At the beginning of your journey, you find a little mechanical firefly named Glitch who helps you on your adventure. Think Navi but with less talking and more action. Glitch provides more variety in Woven’s gameplay, performing more abilities that a stuffed toy could not (e.g. lighting a cave and scanning new patterns found in the worlds).
The game’s collection aspect provides much needed depth to the game’s experience. You can uncover new patterns for Stuffy, caves with artwork sprawled around the walls within it and story beats that reveal Glitch’s past before encountering Stuffy that he cannot remember.
Aside from the game’s charm, I found Woven to lack in its core gameplay experience. Stuffy feels stiff to control and I simply found myself running or performing actions that were as hollow as an action adventure game could get. The puzzles are simplistic, requiring you to learn an ability, equip the corresponding body part and select it in a menu wheel when you’re in the right position. I was also surprised to learn that grass and weeds couldn’t be walked through and would simply stop you dead in your tracks.
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For a game releasing on Nintendo Switch, it featured no HD Rumble (or any rumble) whatsoever. Rumble is used to create haptic feedback in a game and when the character feels stiff and lifeless, the game could have greatly benefited from it.
Woven begins as a surprisingly linear experience with a path that leads exactly where you need to go. You can drift from the path a little to find little tidbits and when the game does open up, sure you’ll have more to uncover, but the gameplay becomes much more frustrating. This may be a subjective opinion, but the omission of a map greatly hinders the gameplay as all off the models look similar in design and stick to a specific colour palette depending on the world that you’re in. This resulted in me getting lost a lot and by the end of being lead back to a single rock for the seventh time, the entire experience had greatly tested my patience.
The game’s plot holds a surprising amount of intrigue, with Glitch’s mysterious past becoming more apparent to the player the more that you progress and steer off the beaten path.
As you explore the world and proceed through the game, a narrator who speaks in rhyme will narrate. Coupled with its colourfully charming aesthetic, it makes Woven feel like a children’s book come to life. A consistent issue that I did find however was that the subtitles are rarely in time with the narration dialogue, which became quite jarring.
Graphics / Art Direction
As you can see from the trailer and screenshots, Woven features knitted design patterns that make the world pop with colour and rich personality. This never comes into consideration with the gameplay (aside from adding context to the mixing and matching of Stuffy’s body parts), but it’s often mentioned throughout the plot and narration.
However compared to the trailer and screenshots, the worlds themselves often look blurry and unfocussed. It begged to question as to whether this was solely a result of the Switch port, meaning that the game wasn’t ported well at all. I almost wanted to believe that the world was beautiful but it often made my eyes strain.
There were moments in handheld mode where the picture was so dark that I couldn’t see where I was going (and yes, the brightness was turned up to max). I found most of the game to be darker than what it needed to be which was an odd choice considering how colourful the game is intended to be.
Music / Sound Design
The game’s soundtrack is beautiful and calming that barely demands too much attention. It primarily consists of pianos and flutes that lays a nice overtone throughout the entire game.
The narrating voice is very well done, reminiscent of a reading of a Dr. Seuss book. Despite odd word choices where it can feel like a rhyme was shoehorned in for the sake of it being a rhyme, the voice work never loses its charm throughout the entire game.
Final Score: 52%
I really wanted to like Woven as colourful 3D sandbox adventure games are way too scarce in modern gaming. However with the mundane gameplay, unfocussed visuals and frustrating world design, it was like taking a bite out of a shiny apple only to find that it had gone bad inside. Its saving grace has to be the narration and lighthearted approach, but whether that’s worth the price of admission is up to you.
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