Even if you’ve played visual novels before, it’s probably fair to say that you’re unlikely to have played anything quite like Wanderlust: Travel Stories.
The narrative – or narratives, given that you’ll encounter the stories of more than one character as you play through the game’s nine stories unfolds at an appropriately leisurely pace, accompanied by wonderfully evocative photos of real world locations.
You’ll be reading and gently guiding the stories of a variety of travellers, moving between locations and choosing dialogue options to steer the narrative in a few different directions. There’s a number of stories to experience – each is crafted by a different team of writers; each is based on the personal stories and travel experiences of the writers who have crafted the tales. Though it’s difficult to know how much of an effect your choices have on the way the stories unfold, it does give you a sense – however accurate that may be – of agency in terms of where the in-game character goes with their tale (information supplied with my review copy of the game states that your choices impact the Stress and Fatigue levels of the characters, which can ‘alter emotions and fluently change how the world is described‘).
It’s beautifully chilled out. The stories rarely get too dramatic and – even though there’s a Stress and Fatigue level to be aware of, as well as limited funds that are spent in certain situations – the general atmosphere, aided by a wonderful soundtrack, remains very laidback.
It’s a real success in providing a more relaxed gaming experience; unhurried, thought-provoking, atmospheric and unique – with very well written stories and beautiful photography. It’s perhaps an acquired taste – it’s not a traditionally action-packed title or one that’s full of dramatic, world-changing events – but it’s a wonderful game that demonstrates the impact that experiencing travel can have on just about anyone.
For those gamers looking for a more grounded, relaxing and gently affecting experience, it’s difficult to suggest a more suitable game. Though the screenshots do little to convey the feel or ambience of the game, Wanderlust Travel Stories is a unique, well crafted and beautifully told set of interactive stories – and a very pleasant surprise.
Many thanks to Forever Entertainment, who supplied me with a review copy of Wanderlust Travel Stories.
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