We’re headed back into Point-and-Click Adventureland this week folks, with the brief but memorable Whateverland on the Switch.
Your character in Whateverland is Vincent, a suave and cool thief who attempts to Thomas Crown a necklace from one Beatrice. The problem is that Vincent assumed that Beatrice would be an easy mark, but little did he (or you) know that Beatrice is an ancient witch. Unimpressed with your shenanigans, she casts you into Whateverland, which is a prison she appears to have constructed to contain those who irk her forever. That forever isn’t metaphorical either; no one dies in Whateverland, and no one has ever, ever escaped.
You meet Nick, who looks to be a riff off Shakespeare, and the two of you must interact with the other residents in order to find seven pieces of a spell that will allow you to summon Beatrice and escape Whateverland. You have two paths you can take to achieve this goal; you can either decide to let Vincent be the cat burglar he is, or you can choose redemption by helping the other lost souls you find in Beatrice’s funhouse prison.
As I mentioned above, Whateverland is a point-and-click adventure game, and the Switch port is no exception to that. The gameplay comes in roughly two forms: the aforementioned point-and-click investigative portion, and a plethora of minigames. Please note, I do mean plethora here. Overall, your progession follows the same format: you meet your mark, talk to them to discover their dilemma, and you decide whether to distract and steal the scroll fragment or to help the characters work through their dilemmas. That’s of course where the minigames come in, though no matter which approach you take, you can’t avoid all of them.
Most of these minigames will be familiar, at least in form if not in setting. By that I mean, you’ll have spatial reasoning challenges that can take the form of arranging ductwork in order to preserve a stoner mouse’s home and garden while others ask a bit more of you in that you’ll edit a book or compose jazz music. Those are fine, but the real issue is Bell and Bones, a game which should be fun but really, really isn’t. The upside to Bell and Bones is that you can acquire yarn balls that allow you to skip subsequent levels. Seriously, if you do play, be sure to grab every yarn ball you can.
Visually, Whateverland features a quirky art style, which fits its setting. The various characters with which you interact are in the process of changing into something that represents whatever issues they have, and the weirdness of it all very much adds to the title’s charm. The voice acting is solid, though I honestly have no idea what Vincent’s accent is. As far as the writing goes, the characters are diverse and showcase a wide variety of backgrounds. However, you don’t actually spend enough time with them to get too deep into the weeds for each of their stories.
That is one of Whateverland’s strengths, actually. The developers have made the solid choice to streamline gameplay, so if you’re short on time, it’s a decent choice because you’ll be able to finish it. That said, I do wish Whateverland had offered me the opportunity to delve a bit deeper into its world. The premise that arguments and division effectively keep everyone imprisoned is a good one, but here it gets a bit glossed over.
Whateverland is a point and click adventure that features quirky art and an interesting world, and while it is brief, there are some rough edges that can take away from the gameplay experience. However, at $14.99 on the Nintendo Store, it might be worth a look if you’re a fan of the genre and like minigames.
- I say that Whateverland is brief, but it’s brief only if you avoid the Bell and Bones minigame as much as you can.
- Why is a man named Zachary Russian?
- Nick floats. Why does Nick float?
- I really do love Whateverland’s voice acting and the story. I just wish there was more.
- You do get multiple endings, so there’s some decent replayability.