A melancholic journey of contemplation
Ghost Protocol promised a ” heartfelt interactive story, told in a unique and curious way” and that is what they have delivered with their debut release Wayward Strand.
The story centres around Casey Beaumaris, a wannabe teenage journalist dragged along to work on a geriatric ward by her nurse mother for three final three days of the school holidays. The twist however is this is no ordinary hospital, it is a renovated airship that was left stranded in the town’s airspace and was refurbished into the local hospital.
Casey’s journalistic instincts kick-in as she sees an article in the making and seeks to find all she can about the history and mysteries of the airship from its current inhabitants, but she quickly becomes side-tracked by those more interesting patients.
Sadly though, that’s about it. Although the characters are interesting and unique, with a stellar cast of Australian voice actors (including Australian royalty Anne Charleston aka Madge Bishop from Neighbours), the story never really felt like it went anywhere.
The three days were on a clock, with Casey able to visit the patients as much as she wanted to delve deeper into their backstories and fill out her notebook (which was beautifully illustrated). It just lacked any sort of common thread to tie it all together – which was a bit of a shame. It does however give you full control, you can decide which characters you want to develop and where you want to spend your time, before the clock strikes 5 and it’s time to go home.
The time mechanic is a nice touch, creating a need to consider how best to spend your day. Do you want to develop all stories, do you want to focus on a particular one, or would you rather hang around and see how the day unfolds and take it from there?
Where the game did shine though was in its art style and direction. It was beautifully illustrated through hand-drawn scenes in the form of polaroid pictures, with animated areas appearing within the pictures themselves.
Coupled with a very serene soundtrack, the 3-4 hours it will take to get through Casey’s three days on the ward are very enjoyable and chilled, with you happy to spend some time with these people and give them a little bit of company like you would hope that any of your elderly relatives at this stage of their lives would have.
There is potential for Wayward Strand to have more impact in some than others. You can choose which characters you want to focus on and develop and may find some that you resonate with more than others and the story will become unique to your choices on your playthrough.
For all this was an enjoyable experience, for it being an interactive story (and a nice one at that), it could have packed a little bit more of a punch. It was most definitely heartfelt though with much love placed in each of the characters the plot itself just needed a bit more of that love.