I had a chance to play KarjaSoft’s point-and-click adventure and pet raising title Wildhollow, and was greeted with more than a few surprises. For one, I had very little experience in the ‘pet raising’ genre and was more than a little hesitant to dive right in, but I quickly found that I could rest on my adventure/item collecting laurels to get me through the early stages.
When you get right down to it, Wildhollow is a fairly textbook point-and-click item exchange adventure game, which compliments the game’s writing and story quite well. You choose to be either a boy or a girl who’s been off studying whatever it is you may fancy; when you return home you find that your farm has been destroyed and your parents have vanished. It’s up to you to seek out clues to find out what happened to them while simultaneously restoring Wildhollow to its former glory.
The first part of the game will be quite familiar to most adventure gamers, gathering information and picking up seemingly random items for some later purpose. The quests are generally simple but almost always involve some figuring out or referencing of a past NPC to gain knowledge from his/her formally innocuous specialty.
Once the breeding actually came into play I was more prepared than I originally thought, and it became clear how much easier the game was made by maintaining and selling animals as your main source of fundraising. You can purchase, raise and breed a variety of animals, with cross-breeding fully encouraged to make new and different species.
Unfortunately, it takes a bit of work to get to the point in the game where you can start breeding and selling, which wouldn’t be a big deal except that the only other real way of making money is playing through the mini-games which are simple and cute at first and pretty boring after that, with the real issue stemming from the developer’s choice to make players have to go through them again and again to progress through the earlier stages of the game.
Again, once breeding begins the mini-games are a thing of the past and you spend the rest of the game trying to figure out what happened to your parents while at the same time keeping your animals both healthy and breeding.
Conversations are held as stills of the characters over the city or area you are currently located, with the anime-style present throughout the character models. The environments are refreshing and perfectly suit the point-and-click mechanics that must be embedded into them.
While the story of missing parents may be a little cookie cutter, the quests you embark on to achieve your ultimate goal are anything but. In fact, arguably the most enjoyable part of the game is that everyone seems to be in on it. The writing is incredibly tongue-in-cheek, specifically during any conversations that promote any kind of gaming cliche. Anytime the gameplay got a bit repetitive I could rely on an enjoyable, if not completely hilarious exchange with one of the many bizarre NPC’s in the game to keep my interest.
I was impressed with the length of the game (Anywhere between 5-10 hours depending on your total completion needs) and found a good balance between the relaxing nature of the point-and-click style with the occasional frantic response needed to maintain the pet raising component. I’d certainly recommend it to anyone looking for a nice take at the adventure genre with fresh writing behind it.
[The developer/publisher gave DIYgamer.com a copy of this game for review purposes.]