A floating hospital with a mystic grandma as a patient? Narrative adventure Wayward Strand offers this and many other mysterious tales to uncover as 15-year-old journalist Casey Beaumaris. Given three days to wander around and write your paper on the flying hospital’s history, the game soothes you into the calm and mellow everyday lives of the elderly residents.
A rhythmic, gentle, sparse acoustic guitar captures a tranquil and serene setting maintained throughout its roughly six-hour timespan. The game introduces a cast just as colourful as the creamy pastel aesthetic it adopts to tell its story. This choice of art style is reminiscent of young children’s cartoons. When you enter a room, the walls lower down like a theatre curtain, giving the sense that you are watching a play unfold. Not to deter the older audience, in fact, this visual style only adds to its endearment, supported by its choice to focus mostly on an age group that is rarely given the spotlight in entertainment media.
The game offers plenty of dialogue, with more than 20,000 lines of script that will almost certainly make you jump back to do a second playthrough. However, with no option to either fast forward or skip dialogue, it makes going through a second run a bit of a chore. Not only that, but while the game is quite short, it only has three save points, with each at the end of a roughly two-hour chapter. You’ll definitely think twice before closing the game before a chapter is over.
With a lovely cast and setting, Wayward Strand is sure to land into your heart even if it does lack gameplay essentials such as more frequent save points or, at the very least, a skip button.