Wanderlust Travel Stories Review
Different Tales are the developers behind Wanderlust Travel Stories and they bring an in-depth storytelling experience to a beautiful photo gallery featuring images from across the world. The narrative is about a group of friends who meet on Easter Island and how they all came together during their travels. Gamers will experience the sights and sounds of six continents during the story. I’m given several yes or no questions, but there are also more detailed answers to deeper questions and things get progressively more philosophical and existential. As the characters in the story travel, they experience lethargic experiences from speaking to locals or other travelers, taking in the beauty of vast mountain ranges or zipping through a network of river systems. Wanderlust Travel Stories brings answers deep questions and the thought process behind getting there through the narrative effectively, making it an essential learning experience for gamers who are interested in travel stories or reading in general.
The choices I’m given during the story aren’t just limited to answering questions but also making decisions such as which riverboat do I take, the cheaper and slower one? Or the fast but expensive one? Time is a factor in the game and the characters have fatigue meters that increase over time and decrease when the character grabs a bite. There is also a stress meter which is used in really interesting ways and reflects the stress of cities but also specific situations like taking a course in a foreign country or going on a date with another traveler, knowing there’s a strong possibility it’s the last day our paths cross.
The narrative interacts with the stress bar very effectively. Characters have varying finances but I felt that choosing the most expensive options every time didn’t make me poor quickly, although I didn’t do much shopping but I stayed in the most expensive hotels, took the fast transportation whenever necessary and took the air-conditioned trains over the overpopulated and extremely hot standard trains. Each of these meters interacts with the storytelling well but I’d say the most effective one is the stress meter which could’ve only been better if characters had panic attacks from too much stress.
Wanderlust Travel Stories isn’t afraid of telling the darker stories of travel. This ranges from the mundane but intense fatigue of jet lag to the tragically heartbreaking stories of hookers in the red light district. These tales aren’t kid-friendly, they’re not Johnnie’s little travel guide. Though I hesitate to call it X rated because it doesn’t show any mature images, it definitely dabbles in mature themes if you choose to explore certain areas of the game. There are parts of the game where the narrative forces you to do things, such as forcing you to let days pass by, but I don’t believe exploring the red-light district that much. There are points where I’m given the choice of going out to party or go to the hotel and the hotel can be chosen regardless of stress or fatigue level but if the character has low fatigue, I almost feel obligated to go party. Although not all of my choices seem to matter, there are many interesting characters to interact with along this advanced choose your own adventure educational title.
A Learning Experience
I personally learned several things as I traveled the streets as each of the playable characters in Wanderlust Travel Stories. I learned that when King Maha Vajiralongkorn died, Thailand grieved for half a year and he was apparently never wrong, according to the locals in the game. The Maharaj mall in Bangkok is primarily full of restaurant and cafes as opposed to stores. Pai is Thailand’s Rose of the North which is still quite a busy city but it’s a more rural experience than Thailand. There are also various foreign dishes to try and the character isn’t always familiar with the language so at one point I ended up ordering a Khao Soi which is a coconut curry with a mix of crispy and soft noodles. The character says the textures are weird but I think it sounded amazing and will be keeping an eye out for the dish at restaurants moving forward. These little tidbits are what inspire me to move from one point to another and although there are a few hiccups where the game forces me to do things, I didn’t feel too limited in the narrative.
I like that the combination of photography and narrative paint a picture of where these characters are while the music includes noises of the city when your character is in a populated area or the ambiance of nature in rural areas. Alongside a photo of the shores of Easter Island is a poem about the region and the loud crashing of waves alongside light orchestral music. Everything comes together to create something that can’t be accomplished using one technique or the other. When I grew up, you could borrow packages from the library that combined a book with a tape to listen to alongside the book and Wanderlust Travel Stories is like an extremely advanced version of that experience.
When I started Wanderlust Travel Stories, I wanted to answer the question if this could just be a photo book or if it could be a movie. Also, due to the interactive nature and the reliance of visuals combining with audio cues makes me think that this was definitely meant to be a game. Though it’s a great educational experience that I believe progressive schools which implement gaming into their curriculum should consider, I’m not confident which age group I’d recommend it too. The story includes many valuable lessons that may be beyond younger audiences and it includes mature themes, so I’d recommend it to a late teenaged audience. Specifically, an audience that has already had the birds and the bees talk. The game provides a great glimpse into foreign cities that many gamers may not otherwise visit in their lives. I wouldn’t recommend Wanderlust to anyone who dislikes reading. Wanderlust Travel Stories is a very text-heavy experience. But if you enjoy reading and learning from gaming experiences and also enjoy traveling, I definitely recommend this gaming experience. Wanderlust Travel Stories is an evolution of non-fiction, blending the sights and sounds of cities, mountains, shores, etc. with interactive storytelling.
***PC code provided by the publisher***
- Interactive Storytelling
- Beautiful photos
- Learning experience
- Stress/fatigue meters
- Unimportant decisions
- Lots of reading
- Some days just pass by