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Review | Wooden Sen’Sey (Wii U)

Review | Wooden Sen’Sey (Wii U)

by September 29, 2014 0 comments

 

Come in made of butter, leave carved out of wood.

Wooden Sen’Sey brings the pain in a humorous side scrolling platformer with some tight grapple-hook mechanics to mix up the action.

Neko Entertainment proudly wears their inspiration on their sleeve. Wooden Sen’Sey has shades of Bionic Commando, Ducktales, Donkey Kong Country Returns,  and a very sly homage to Eric Chahi’s Another World hidden beneath its lushly textured exterior. It is a very fluid and responsive action-platformer that is held back by some questionable design choices and lack of substantial replay value.

Wooden-SenSeY (1)

First impressions are the longest lasting and Wooden Sen’Sey makes a bold one with its art direction. Richly colored levels and a smooth, fluid frame rate make Wooden Sen’Sey a splendorous game to behold. The various particle and depth of field effects give a handcrafted miniature model quality that is welcome in this day and age of realistic graphical supremacy. As beautiful as these worlds are they are also massive. Too massive, actually. There are moments when the game drags because the levels are so long; as a result, it becomes almost tedious to see them through to completion. Some of the longer levels of Wooden Sen’Sey could have been two levels allowing players to take a break without having to replay long stretches of admittedly challenging platforming and grapple swinging.

 

WoodenSenSeY_11

The story of Wooden Sen’Sey couldn’t be more simple: A bad guy shows up and steals Goro’s booze, thus Goro sets out on a journey to take it back. Goro, the hero of Wooden Sen’Sey, is a drunken master wooden effigy. He slices, he dices, chops and slashes, but wait- there’s more! Much like in Ducktales and the recent Shovel Knight, Goro has a downward pogo attack he performs with axe-chains. This maneuver is easily performed and has feedback with the appropriate crunch that causes devastating damage to enemies.

It has a launching quality that also can be used on otherwise deadly traps or spikes and all enemies. The grapple swinging mechanics work well enough but the swinging physics are on the slow side. Maintaining swinging momentum at a brisk pace is a fruitless endeavor, but thankfully there are so few instances where the game relies on the player mastering this ability.

When Goro is not leaping and grappling he is foppishly swinging his axes. Sadly the close quarters combat is pretty weak. Goro’s hits can best be described as dinky and take a lot to defeat even the weakest of enemies. The range for his attacks are also pathetically short, and given the design of the characters,  it can be a little tricky discerning which direction you or the enemy is facing. Plenty of flow-breaking moments find Goro awkwardly flailing an enemy into submission – tedious and middling combat mechanics in this authors honest opinion.

As the difficulty of Wooden Sen’Sey ramps up, some of the game’s more questionable design choices become apparent. The lack of invincibility frames in Wooden Sen’Sey create some truly frustrating and unfair situations where Goro gets caught and stuck in a loop of animation and takes a flurry of hits until he’s dead. Dying in the game will deduct a life like in many classic games before it, but Wooden Sen’Sey fails to realize this common motif of its platforming predecessors.  There are lots of lives to collect; seemingly one around every checkpoint and it begs the question: why even bother with lives at all?

 

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Other low-points in Wooden Sen’Sey is the very slow submarine shooter level. What could have been a great way to mix up the action becomes the most boring and tedious part of the entire game. The submarine controls like Flappy Bird, where the user taps a button for altitude and a torpedo launcher fires very small projectiles for defense; however, that is not to be outdone by the single worst aspect of Wooden Sen’Sey which are the arbitrary combat segments where Goro goes toe to toe with waves of enemies. As mentioned earlier, combat is not the game’s strong suit- yet there are many times Goro must fight a few waves of enemies; this is filler, in its most basic and superficial form.

Check out the Score

GAMEPLAY

 Wooden Sen’Sey is a very competent platformer but it is rife with questionable creative choices and has a large amount of filler moments. Tight and fluid controls, smooth frame rate and satisfying feed back make it an easy pick up and play sidescroller for pretty much any age.

GRAPHICS

The art department truly shines here. Wooden Sen’Sey exists in a vividly designed and stylized world. The concepts expressed are very illustrative and tactile.

SOUND

The music is appropriately energetic. The final confrontation is a wildly rousing composition that really makes the sequence feel exciting.

Value

Wooden Sen’Sey might be a worthy purchase for anyone who enjoys a challenging platformer. For anyone else, it becomes harder to recommend. While not the longest game (9 levels) it also does not have substantial replay value. A one and done experience that was completed in a day.

Final Score

FINAL SCORE

Wooden Sen’Sey is not the sum of its parts. Beautiful and polished looking visuals can only take a game so far until some of the questionable elements begin to ebb away at the core package. Wooden Sen’Sey shows promise at the start, but the padding, poor pacing, cheap deaths and extended moments of boredom from an unnecessary submarine level hold this game back from reaching its true potential. And so It falls short from being a title of immediate recommendation, as opposed to a game that only the hardest of hard core players will find appreciation in. Seeing more of what this development team can create would be interesting, seeing as how they clearly do know what they are doing. For the most part, that is.       5        

 

 

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