Woven is a puzzle adventure game developed by Alterego Games. Released on Nov 15th for PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch, it tells the story of Stuffy the stuffed toy and Glitch the robot as they travel across a knitted world together to understand their own origins and why metal creatures are invading. I ran the game through its paces on the PS4, and this is what I thought.
In Woven you play as Stuffy a ragtag stuffed animal exploring the knitted world. He has no recollection of who he is or why he’s there, other than a feeling of wanderlust to explore the land. Along the way he meets Glitch a mechanical firefly, together they explore the world and work together to overcome the various obstacles in their way. As they travel, they discover more about the land they’re exploring as well as about themselves and how they came to be here.
Mechanical creatures are stalking the land, some useful and some, like the gigantic mechanical spiders and wasps, far more menacing. Why are they here? What connection to them is Glitch, and how does Stuffy fit into all this?
That is the very basic premise of Woven. It’s not a tale filled with epic romance, great adventure and plot twists coming out of the wazoo. It’s a story that fits with the pace and design of the game.
When you play woven you play as Stuffy, Glitch is always there but apart from issuing commands you don’t have any real control over it. The basic elements of Woven are exploring the land, finding new parts and patterns and using them to solve puzzles.
As a stuffed animal, you are able to interchange the various parts of your body, the head, body, arms and legs can all be swapped for various animal parts and different colours and patterns. These changes, although can be purely cosmetic, often play an integral part of the game by helping you to solve the various puzzles. New animal parts will endow Stuffy with various skills based on the part used. For example, initially, as an elephant, your legs can stomp the ground, and your trunk can make a trumpet sound. Exploring will open up new animal parts which will provide even more skills, jumping as a deer, wings as a bird and pushing as a badger for example. These skills will enable you move bison, push rocks, jump across streams and so on.
Colours might also need be changed to get past certain barriers. There’s a fashion-conscious snake that wants you to dress like it, and at another point you need to change your appearance to match the ground so you can get past a massive mechanical spider. In order to unlock new patterns and colours, you need to use Glitch to scan the different creatures and parts of the landscape, often some of the patterns need a bit of a stomp to open them while others may on walls, the floor or a little more hidden.
You can’t change your appearance on the fly, instead you must find a sewing machine, and use Glitch to activate it. Within this machine you can switch your parts and change your colours as appropriate.
This brings me on to Glitch. Glitch has three functions: Activating machines, lighting up dark cave areas and scanning objects. There are various machines scattered through the land and Glitch is required to activate them all. The sewing machines we’ve already covered. There are also new parts machines. These new parts machines consist of four rows with a lever on each row. As the machine starts, little dots appear either at the top or bottom of each row. You need to move each lever to either its up or down position so the hammer hits the dots. Hit enough dots and a new animal pattern is unlocked.
Overall, it’s fairly simple gameplay but it’s this simplicity that stops everything getting bogged down in detail. The areas are relatively small, so if you do find yourself getting stuck on a problem, you know you’re not endlessly searching a massive area for the solution.
If I had one complaint it would be that some of the animal parts you can find are purely cosmetic and don’t provide any new functions over ones you have already. With such a wide variety of animals to choose from in the world I would have liked each animal to bring with it at least one unique part, and a dash more variety in the solutions to the puzzles.
Graphically, I think Woven is beautiful, certainly on the PS4. The different strands and weave of the world are delicately represented and everything looks fluffy, soft and well… woven. Obviously, we’re not talking photo realism, but it’s like you’ve jumped into a children’s pbook, filled with bright colours and a lovable cuddly protagonist.
The entire game is poetically narrated by a wonderful baritone voice, once more adding to the children’s story theme that Woven has in buckets. While the sounds within the game itself are fairy subdued a gentle theme runs in the background while you play, and the sound effects themselves don’t intrude too much into the game. In all aspects the game is a calm gaming experience which the sound backs up perfectly. One thing that did bug me way more than it should, is the use of the wrong ‘their’ in the Epilepsy warning before you play the game. Not a major thing I know, but very easily fixed.
Rather unsurprisingly there aren’t different levels of difficulty within the game, and on the most part I’ve found the puzzles fairly easy to solve. Once or twice I found my way searching for a puzzle solution for a long time, only to find out I had missed a path concealed by my camera view, or I had misread the puzzle text and not coloured Stuffy correctly. Though this isn’t really a problem with the game. If you’re a die-hard puzzler then the puzzles might be a little too easy. You’re normally told which skill you need to use at the various parts of the game, so you normally just to need to find a sewing machine and attach the required part, returning back to the problem to resolve it.
The control system for Woven is very easy to get to grips with. Left and right sticks control movement and camera view respectively. Holding down L1 brings up Glitch’s options, selectable by the left stick. R1 brings up Stuffy’s current skills, also selectable with the right stick.
Woven does have a few things you can hunt down within the game itself. There are over 100 different patterns and textures, as well as a load of different animals although most are found simply by playing the game. There are also little machines that unlock Glitch’s memories, and caves to discover. All good stuff, but in terms of longevity, these won’t provide an endless amount of gaming fun. There’s only one ending, no decision tree’s or different ways through the game so once played through it might gather a few cobwebs.