It was only a few weeks ago that I finally got around to playing the board game version of Wingspan; it’s about time too, because I’ve now been able to see exactly what the fuss has been about (and you can read my review here).
Having adored my time with the board game itself, it was only a matter of time before I picked up the digital adaptation of the game, which is available on pretty much all formats (the board game now comes with a discount code for the Steam version, but I picked it up the Xbox – which itself was on sale).
It’s a wonderful experience and a faithful translation of the board game, with a beautifully relaxing ambience – gentle music, the sound of birdsong (as you’d expect) and narrated facts about each bird played, along with the gorgeous painted style of the board game, superbly adapted. It’s extremely well done.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with drawbacks – one of which is the fact that you don’t quite have enough access to all of the visual information – including your opponent’s play area – at all times. It’s unquestionably not the fault of Monster Couch, who handled the adaptation; this is an issue that affects plenty of board game digital conversions, with screen space at a premium and the need to see specific aspects of the game without everything being way too zoomed out at all times. Monster Couch have done as best they can, but it does still feel a bit lacking and occasionally fiddly in comparison to simply sitting at a table and havin everything laid out around and in front of you and your opponents.
The controls are occasionally fiddly too – I still found myself selecting actions or accidentally bringing up an option that I didn’t mean to even after several games – but this is nitpicking, in all honesty.
Wingspan is, of course, a game that’s incredibly strong from a mechanical point of view and it’s all very well implemented here. Though I’ll often play a digital version of a game to help me get around digesting the rules of the tabletop version, in this instance I was, however, glad that I knew how to play Wingspan in advance. It does have a robust tutorial, but I think I may have struggled with learning the game if I didn’t already know how to play it.
With both local and multiplayer options, as well as player vs AI and even the option to simulate the single player, Automa version of the board game, there’s plenty of choice in who to play with; even if you do want to tackle the game alone, it’s good to have different ways to do that too.
It’s nice to have the game setting up and scoring automatically too, which takes away a couple of the – admittedly minor – inconveniences of the tabletop game. In short, I’d highly recommend the game if you already know how to play Wingspan and can’t get enough of it, but perhaps struggle to find opponents to play the tabletop version with – which describes me perfectly – but do be prepared for a bit of a learning curve (which exists if you’re learning to play the board game too) if you’re coming to this with zero familiarity of the original game.
Special mention must go to the inventive and expansive number of achievements on offer; it’s actually really pleasing to unexpectedly hear the achievement sound punctuate the birdsong and soft music when these are triggered – and there’s so many to acquire!
There’s expansions on the way too, which should provide a great way for players to check them out without investing in more cardboard. Though it lacks the tactile and pleasing components of the tabletop game, Wingspan still soars – pun intended – even in digital form.
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