At PAX Australia, the indies are really the stars of the show, there are countless numbers of them and while there were many that stood out to me, I really was impressed by Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth, a game that is inspired by The Wind Waker and Dark Souls with a touch of Banjo Kazooie thrown in as well, if that sounds like something you might like then read on.
Even before I placed my hands upon the controller, I saw the Wind Waker influence right away, I mean it is pretty obvious, but even with the look down pat, it also plays out much the same way with very similar style controls. Navigating the environment felt great, with people and objects to interact with, it just had a certain feel to it that I immediately clicked with. The world also reacts to light in a similar way to the Wind Waker, with the character I was controlling was carrying a torch and as I moved around the world, the light was bouncing off the walls and objects, it was really nice to see. As I progressed through, I came across the spirit of a previous Warden, who merged with my character and then I was able to swap between each of them and as they both had special skills, it was something that was required and it worked well. Throughout the world were these glowing musical note inspired elements, that are part of the collectable sub quest, as to what they do, at this point I had no idea, but I am very interested in finding out what they do.
The Dark Souls elements come from the combat, you can’t run into a fight expecting to get through without a challenge, the first fight I had was from three members of a faction who believed the Warden, your character, is a false person and so they fight. Each member of the enemies group had a different weapon, which also impacts combat. Initially I was fighting as the spirit, who had no weapons, so I had to collect an axe that was lying on the ground in order to defend myself, it was actually pretty interesting to have to scavenge a weapon, I managed to defeat the first enemy without too much damage dealt to myself, but I was undone by the second. When I tried again, I managed to defeat the first again without too much hassle, but when I attacked the second my axe broke, leaving me defenseless, or so I thought.
I was running around trying to avoid being attacked when I discovered a series of rocks on the ground, I picked up a rock and then threw it at the attacking enemy and was able to defeat it, but then I had to deal with the boss, but thankfully I was able to pick up the spear from the enemy I had just defeated. After dying again, I started back up and swapped back to the character that I started out as and was able to defeat the first two enemies without too much fuss, but then my weapons were gone and I had to learn to use one of the weapons from the downed enemies, which actually worked out well, as it was a larger axe, it dealt a serious amount of damage to the boss and thankfully that resulted in my taking him out. The fact that the weapons degraded overtime meant that I had to keep thinking about managing them and when I came across new weapons as I explored further, there was a balancing act of which ones to keep.
My time with Warden Melody of the Undergrowth was short, as things always are at PAX Aus, but I came away knowing that I have to play more. The stylized visuals and challenging combat are something of a mismatch, but it works here very well and the world is just begging to be explored. The game is currently set to hit PC early next year with Xbox One after that and the team plan to hit other consoles down the line.