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An evocative game bogged down by a flawed execution, February 24, 2020
Wetlands is an unusual IF in that it requires you to bring your own motivation.
We begin play with a drawing of the fabled city that captured our character's imagination as a child, and then we're left completely to our own devices. Free to scurry about the swamp solving puzzles, stuffing our raincoat pockets full of pinecones, and perhaps wondering why we're going to all of this trouble to find a place that may not even exist.
The whole thing feels somewhat directionless, which is a shame because this game has a lot of things going for it. The descriptions are ornate without quite stumbling into purple prose. The environment is very lush and a lot of care has been put into making it feel alive. The characters are simple, but they work. They're colourful, and responsive, and a joy to interact with.
But the game doesn't quite deliver on its central premise. (Spoiler - click to show)We're offered a vision of this glittering crystal city but we never get a chance to go there. Not really, not properly. We don't get a chance to wander through the crystal streets and see them described in the same luxurious prose that makes the area at the top of the hill so pretty. We never get to investigate its mysteries for ourselves. Or talk to its inhabitants. And that's a shame, because that's our sole motivation for running around these wetlands in the first place.
The game sets up two civilisations in conflict with one another. But we're on the fringes of both. Stuck in the wetlands between the two. Unable to fully explore either.
They're beautiful wetlands, but unfortunately, they're not where we want to be.