Date: April 3, 2023
As a fan of RPGs and action games, I always enjoy when a game has a deep story or combat system. However, sometimes it’s nice to just have a game that you can pick up and play, without having to worry about remembering where you left off or what kind of move you were trying to learn. Wall World is great for this, being a rouge-lite game with some tower defense elements and an easy to follow gameplay loop. It’s also worth noting that this game was developed by Alawar Premium Limited, the same team behind the strategy game Necrosmith. While the game can be fun — and even addicting — it is held back from being great due to some bugs and a couple of annoyances in the resource collection.
The story for Wall World is pretty bare bones. You play as a nameless walldigger who lives in a society that’s behind a massive and seemingly endless Wall. He goes past the community’s perimeter periodically to gather materials, while fighting off creatures known as the Zyrex. While going on these expeditions, the protagonist secretly wants to find the rumored ‘edge’ of the Wall that his grandfather used to tell him about.
You’re told this information every time you turn on the game, and that’s about all the story you get. There are a few things like notes you can find throughout the game that hint at more lore within this world, like the origins of the Wall and what lies beyond, but due to the random nature of the game (we’ll get to that later in the review), it could potentially be a long time before you can piece everything together, if ever.
I don’t mind the lack of story in this game. Since it’s more of and pickup a play kind of game, it doesn’t need a story unfolding throughout. However, for the people who are more interested in the deeper lore, it would have been nice to make the pieces more easily accessible to be able to piece it together, instead of relying on luck.
Gameplay and Progression
The gameplay is fairly simple, having a focus on resource management and being as efficient as possible, and making it a combination of rogue-lite and tower defense elements. You start the game inside of a Robospider, which is your mobile base, and walk up and down the wall with it until you find a crack — this will be an entrance to a mine. Once you enter the mine, you go through it and break blocks with your drill to gather up resources. You want to go as far down the wall as you can, and collect as many resources as possible.
However, this isn’t the only thing you’ll be doing. You will periodically be attacked by a swarm of Zyrex (indicated by a purple bar on the screen) that will try to destroy your Robospider. When this happens, you need to go back into your base, and use its turret to kill them until you’re in the clear to go back to mining.
You will also notice a timer on the top of the screen. When this timer hits 0, a massive Zyrex will attack you. You cannot kill it, but you can fight it off and buy yourself another 15 minutes before it comes again. Eventually, though, it will destroy your base no matter what, and you will have to start over. There are several things you can find that will make it easier to survive these attacks and make it further down the Wall, however.
Within mines, you will find two types of resources by breaking blocks. The primary resource you will get from any block you break, while the secondary resource can only be found in specific ore-containing blocks. To collect these special ores, you will have to vacuum them up, but there is a limit that you can carry — you need to take them to the Robospider to free up your space. Both of these resources can be used to upgrade yourself or your base, making things easier for you.
On top of this, you will occasionally find upgrades within the mines. You can either find upgrades that give your base or yourself another function, or you can find a schematic, which will give a free, powerful enhancement to yourself or the Robospider. Sometimes you will even find a new type of gun to fight off Zyrex with. Most of these upgrades are pretty helpful, and you can feel how much easier they make things, making it exciting when you find one.
As stated earlier, however, eventually you will lose the game no matter what. When this happens, most of your upgrades will be gone, and you will have to start all over. The big exception to this are upgrades that you can buy in the main menu, using the primary resource you gather. These upgrades primarily help with survivability and getting a head start on mines, meaning you can make more progress in subsequent runs.
A major thing that should be known about the game is the random nature of it. Being a rogue-like, each time you start a game, everything except the Zyrex waves is randomized — this means that the mine locations, and the contents inside them, will be completely different every game. This causes every run to feel different from the next, but it also means that you there is a bit of luck involved in making more progress — finding something like an upgrade to your drill will help much more than finding a Cluster Bomb that only goes off when the Robospider is low on health.
Overall, I enjoyed the gameplay in Wall World. The progression of upgrading and making it further down the Wall can get addicting, and finding new upgrades feels good most of the time. On top of this, the random nature of each run keeps it from feeling stale, forcing you to use new tools and adapt each time.
I did have one major gripe: the way the vacuum functions. While vacuuming ores, many times they will fly right past you instead of into the vacuum, especially if you try to collect them while moving. When the game wants you to be as quick and efficient with everything as possible, it can get frustrating trying to quickly collect ores when you’re in a hurry to get back before the next attack.
It is also worth noting that the build I was playing had a number of bugs. The most prominent one would happen when turning in a new upgrade — I would get stuck in the window telling me what the upgrade was and be forced to reset the game. Some other bugs included not being able to fire missiles, not being able to heal freely, and there was even one that caused the giant Zyrex’s kill attack to freeze on screen, meaning it wouldn’t kill me, but I was still trapped in a small area. Hopefully, these bugs will get fixed quickly, because while they’re not completely game breaking, they do take away from the experience somewhat.
Longevity and Replayability
What Wall World lacks in story, it makes up for in its longevity. Each run of the game will last anywhere between 20 minutes to around an hour, depending on how long you’re able to survive and descend down the wall. However, since the game is almost completely randomized each time, it gives a limitless amount of variations to your runs.
On top of this, pieces of lore are hidden in mines. This will give players who are interested in the bigger story more reason to keep playing, so that they can keep finding pieces of information, and put everything together.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with Wall World. Getting new upgrades and seeing how they help me get more resources made me want to do more runs, and each one being different kept things from feeling stale. The game will be only $5 (and only $4.24 with its 15% discount through April 12th) — I would definitely recommend it for that price, giving a ton of play time for a great price. Just don’t expect any kind of in-depth story here. Hopefully, the bugs will get worked out soon to make it an even more enjoyable experience.