During the Steam Next Fest 2022, I had the opportunity to play the demo for The Wandering Village by Swiss developer Stray Fawn Studio – a colony management game that lets you build a village on a giant dinosaur-like creature called Onbu who moves through the game world. Hence the title of the game.
In a world where mysterious plants are spreading all over the earth, emitting toxic spores as they grow, a group of people seeks shelter on the back of a giant, wandering creature. Becoming their leader, players build both their settlement and a symbiotic relationship with the gentle beast to survive together in this hostile, yet beautiful post-apocalyptic world that now surrounds them.Stray Fawn Studio
You start off with a few villagers, a few resources, and no infrastructure whatsoever. To be fair though, you are also on the back of the huge six-legged Onbu, so harsh conditions are to be expected. You are tasked with building a new home for your people on this plateau while your host wanders through the world and you have only limited influence on the directions it takes, its speed, or whether it’s moving at all or standing still, even sleeping.
This setting introduces a duality to the colony management that is new to the genre. You not only have to care for your villagers, keep them alive and happy and improve their lives, you also have to take care of the moving foundation of the entire village and keep it happy.
Coupled with the cute graphics this is all fun and sweet until Onbu runs into a cloud of toxic spores for the first time. Plants get sick and infect other plants which has the very real potential to trigger massive chain reactions if not kept in check. Villagers get sick and have to get treated or they die remarkably quick deaths and since your number of workers is one of the resources you have to manage … You can see where the difficulty is coming from.
Another mechanic I found really interesting is how the game manages seasons. Well, there really are no seasons since Onbu wanders through different biomes all by himself (or herself?) which have a distinct influence on the amount of water you can get, the growth of your crops and multiple other aspects of your village.
The last feature I want to highlight is the 3 different views of the game world: The village view where you are zoomed in and managing your village, the zoomed-out perspective where you can see what Onbu is currently up to and the view of the world map, mostly covered in fog of war apart from a circle around Onbu. You really get a good sense of scale and you get the feeling that the villagers are little more than passengers on this journey.
All in all, I had a lot of fun with The Wandering Village demo and definitely plan to return to Onbu once the game is released.
The Wandering Village is bound for release in summer 2022.