Hi, welcome, hello. If you've followed our previous coverage of The Waylanders, you know that I've been a huge supporter since day one due to the team attached and their Dragon Age roots. As a massive fangirl, I knew I had to dive in, and while this was a massively different experience, it did this Dragon Age fangirl heart justice despite the woes of Early Access.
The Waylanders hails from Gato Studio out of Spain and has an incredible team behind this new venture. Out in Early Access now, it was easy to dive right into the game full-force and while the graphics were nothing like similar games with its own unique style and progression was rough at times due to the expected bugs, none of that was able to dim my excitement and pure joy felt during my time with this adventure.
The Waylanders is an RPG that allows players to choose their gender (with They/Them pronouns as well), their race, and their class. You can even play as a werewolves, but those chops on their face were a little too much for my personal tastes. The classes are also typical for what one would expect out of an RPG: Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, and Warrior.
The journey begins on a boat as the player serves to protect King Ith as they make their way to meet with the gods known as Tuatha. It's there that players will meet the king's advisors and eventually set on a path for a much bigger journey. The overall narrative is set between two distinct eras: Celtic and Medieval. As the political climate continues to spiral and the player is put in a tough position juggling between the two timelines, The Waylanders offers a diversified experience that is simply too good to pass up.
Not to disrespect the team by continuously comparing this game to another, one aspect that the studio nailed that will appeal to Dragon Age fans are its characters. While the art style is not rooted in realism, that doesn't stop the immersion at all. While not all characters were a hit for me personally (looking at you, Haeraklios), I'm more than willing to sell my entire soul for market value for Nazhedja. She's like if Isabella from Dragon Age had a love child with Felicia Day and they got drunk on sassy juice and you know what? I am here for it.
There are a plethora of characters to meet and interact with in addition to companions that make the journey all the more worth it, and that's where this story truly takes root into a gamer's heart. Each character stands on its own with impeccable writing and narrative progression. The voice acting was so on point, which will have Baldurs Gate and Dragon Age fans screaming in delight, and they are so varied that everyone can find a character(s) that they resonate with the most.
The combat felt very similar to that of Dragon Age Origins with the ability for players to pause and fight when needed in an effort to control the battlefield and format their party to its most effective position. Players can also tell characters where they go in a way that is stackable. This was sometimes a hit or miss during some fights where the characters seemed to be confused, but honestly? After reading various patch notes and posts about it, I'm attributing this more to Early Access than anything else.
One thing that I would love to see changed is how the camera angles work in battle. It's not always the easiest to control camera movement unless paused and even then, the controls were a bit clunky. Again, though, this is where other game comparisons come in handy because this is very much a staple in older RPGs and it's not an issue in a way that makes the combat seem game-breaking.
As the game progresses, as often the case in RPGs, the story takes players to different locations to collect various companions all around the in-game world due to the dual eras. This, for me, was so intriguing and beautifully done in a way that makes you want to keep playing to see what else there is to explore. From the epic soundtrack to the unique art styling that felt similar to Kingdoms of Amalur in many ways, The Waylanders is a perfect example of a game that derives many different influences while still standing strong on its own.
Overall, The Waylanders is stunning and scratches that itch that many RPG lovers have. It's not perfect and is riddled with bugs due to its Early Access nature, bugs that the dev team has been nothing but transparent about, but if it gets better from here? Then this is definitely a journey no one should miss out on when looking for new characters to fall in love with and a new story to get lost in.