Developer: Martin Mejak
Release Date: 24 December, 2022 (EA)
By Chris Picone, 22 February 2023
I jumped all over Weirdlands because I just loved the look of it. Aesthetically, Weirdlands is a mish-mash of several genres, so I was surprised to find it playing out like a Pokemon-style JRPG, but it’s definitely not a bad thing. Weirdlands’s still in Early Access at the moment – so the game’s not complete and not all areas accessible yet but what’s there’s pretty well polished.
Gorgeous chunky limited palette pixels! Lots of purples, browns, and greens, which seems to be the colour theme for most games trying to give off a “weird” vibe. The main part of the game is isometric, with plenty of detail and plenty to interact with. Combat takes you to a fairly standard JRPG-style battle mode except that it’s presented horizontally instead of vertically and on cut-out tiles for some reason – I’m not sure why but it looks cool, I dig it. I love the monsters – they look like demon-themed Pokemon and they’re awesome. Weirdlands also features a point-and-click-style inventory, inside which you’ll find several books. These act as a journal, a pokedex – sorry, a demonicon – and a collection of instruction manuals and other in-game artefacts. They’re presented like actual books which your character has been scribbling notes in and it adds a really nice touch to the game. Oh, and it has a great soundtrack!
Weirdlands starts as a point and click-style puzzle game in which begin in the real world and need to search the area, collecting and using inventory items that allow you to progress. Until you find the magic chalk which opens the portal into the magic world, where you’re adopted as a janitor’s apprentice, tasked to complete a few mundane chores around the school like cleaning toilets and capturing demons. Combat involves you and a summoned demon facing off against other demons JRPG style. You can defeat them or capture them but either way you score some XP which you can use to power up your skills or purchase things. Captured lesser demons can also be absorbed by your greater demons to make them more powerful and give them access to new skills. The story’s interesting but it takes a little while to get off the ground as initially you’re just thrown into a strange world with no explanation and the first pieces of story are uncovered by completing the first few side quests. But the world and its characters are interesting, so it’s easy to get sucked along for the ride. There is a little bit of grind but it’s not too bad.
The pace is a little slow and it could probably benefit from a little more handholding at the start of the game but keep in mind the game’s still in Early Access. The story is engaging and the monsters are cool, I’d happily recommend Weirdlands to any JRPG fan.