We were a bit late to this party, unfortunately. Somehow both Joe and I, both of us being big tabletop role-playing game fans, hadn’t played Wildermyth up until a short time ago. That was a mistake on our end. Wildermyth is an incredible game with some of the best character-based storytelling a tactics game has offered us since…. Ever, basically (I didn’t play Final Fantasy Tactics, don’t hate me).
So, what exactly is Wildermyth? It’s a tough question, as the structures that make it up are familiar, but in practice everything is just a bit different. There’s a map you can move members of your party around on, and they have a chance to happen into events illustrated in a sort of comic book/ fairy tale style, with your party’s characters placed there, with different dialogue depending on their personalities and relationships with other characters. That’s already a lot to take in, especially considering that there are branching dialogue options in some events.
The aforementioned map is divided into different provinces that can have buildings and resources that provide materials to your party between story chapters, and untamed wilds, where all sorts of nefarious enemies may lurk. Here, the game enters a turn-based tactics game, where you can throw present members of your party against the foe. It feels sort of like a fantasy XCOM, but that wouldn’t do the system justice, as it is its own unique beast. Your three base classes, warriors, hunters, and mystics, can acquire all sorts of crazy abilities that in any other game might make them feel overpowered. However, the balancing in Wildermyth is superb, and towards the end of a campaign, enemies can and will be absolute menaces to deal with, and your super soldier that’s been with you since the beginning can end up monster-chow.
The combat, to elaborate a bit further, is captured in a relatively familiar dual-action system, in the vein of XCOM. You can move your guy and then act, or move him twice as far, and use a “free action” during your turn. The system isn’t too complicated to initially understand, and its accessibility does the game great credit. This is a game that you can have your non-wargame-y friends play, even if you’re a glutton for punishment, things can get brutal on the higher difficulties.
Each class has their own line of abilities that make them special, essentially boiling down to warriors hitting things and having melee overwatch abilities to hold the line, hunters are rogues that can sneak, lay traps, and ambush enemies, while mystics… well. Mystics are perhaps some of the most interesting magic users I’ve seen in a game like this. Rather than just blasting enemies with magic from their hands, magic in Widlermyth is centered around the environment, so your spellcasters will “interfuse” an object with their magic, and can then use their magic to make said object do a thing. If it’s a fire, they can throw the fire at enemies. If it’s a plant, they can have it grapple an enemy with vines. If it’s made of wood, they can have it explode on the enemy with a shower of splinters. The list goes on, but you can see that there’s depth behind the initially simple system.
In between these scraps, your characters will march around the procedurally generated country, rooting out monster infestations in some provinces, leading a defense against a horde of monsters in another. Every battle, every event has an opportunity to cause something new to happen, to fundamentally change your party members’ relationships with each other, or to change them physically. That’s where Widlermyth shines, in creating and telling these stories. Your starting warrior and hunter may fall in love with each other, giving them the ability to have higher crit chance if their lover is damaged in combat. They may, in between chapters of the story, have a child. Their child may become a rival of the party’s founding mystic, leading them on an ever-expanding game of one-upmanship. That child could then accept the blessings of story-telling spirits, giving them a fiery personality and the ability to shoot flames out of their hands to match. None of this is hypothetical, that’s all something that happened in one of my campaigns.
Another example, just because I love this particular character: take Garlad. He was the mystic, the spellcaster from my first campaign. His personality was somewhat sarcastic but romantic, and he had a hard time making friends with the other two members of the party. So when the wilds called to him, he accepted their call, and now he has a wolf head. Later, he happened into a storm, receiving a lightning leg for his troubles. Over time, this originally shy loner of a man was turned into a 40% bolt of electricity and 60% werewolf. His sarcasm and romance holds different meaning now considering that he is this outcast that can’t hold things very well, considering that one of his arms is living electricity and the other is a wolf claw. But he can shoot lightning out of his arm and claw people, so you win some, you lose some.
These characters that you bond with over the course of the campaign can, upon completion of the campaign, appear in your other games, in a manner of Greek mythological figures or Arthurian knights finding themselves in many adventures, not just the first. I clapped with delight seeing Garlad appear in a later game, lightning and wolf parts all accounted for. I must admit I have a soft spot for games that highlight characters like this, that let you grow your own connection with them, and Wildermyth makes every character unique in their own way, either to start out with or through changes they undergo over time.
There’s a lot of thought that went into Wildermyth, and you can feel the love and effort that went into making each part of the game. It’s rare that I come across a game that doesn’t fall short in anything it set out to do, and Wildermyth does achieve everything it set out to do. Plus, it has great mod support, so the system looks to be quite flexible and has a burgeoning community around it.
I don’t have anything bad to say about Wildermyth. Wildermyth is a great game. Go play Wildermyth. That’s what I’m going to be doing right after I post this on the site.