Wild Hearts review - Karakruri brings enough innovation to offer a deserving alternate choice in monster hunting genre
Wild hearts has had a rocky start with performance issues but a couple of patches and the planned free content updates can seriously improve the game.
Wild Hearts is the latest AAA major hunting game to arrive. I’ve spent quite some time now in the fantasy landscape of Azuma, the game’s world map and I’ve surprisingly grown fond of it. Wild Hearts’ Azuma is inspired by feudal Japan and there’s a lot of scope for monster hunting in this wild game by EA.
When it comes to EA, I’ve spent most of my life playing FIFA and I’ve played Apex Legends since day one. So, playing a monster-hunting game by EA did make me ponder about what I’m getting into. However, I realised that even for those playing a game in this genre for the first time, there’s a fair learning curve to ensure you’re eventually hooked.
Kemono and Karakuri
The game’s beasts are called Kemono and you’ll take these magnificent beasts on with the help of Karakuri. That’s ancient magic which flows through Azuma and it helps the player create various gadgets out of thin air. The game’s Karakuri has a diverse range of uses which are not only limited to combat. Karakuri is used to transverse in the game, create and upgrade new tools, and more. You can build workbenches, travel camps, Kenomo trackers and more.
Wild Hearts also has Tsukumo which are essentially your AI companions in the game. You can also rename your Tsukumo. Collecting more and more Tsukumo allows you to upgrade your pet’s attack and defence stats. Also, Tsukumo also increases the amount of Karakuri threads you can carry.
Each time I boot up Wild Hearts, I got more engaged in the combat, gameplay mechanics and improving gear. For starters, Wild Hearts has a detailed character creation system. You start off with a series of tutorials to get you up to speed with the world and its mechanics. Then, you meet the mysterious man which leads to a rather fruitful conversation.
Wild Hearts didn’t create a standardised back story to choose from. Instead, it lets you flesh out your own backstory through this conversation. I came into the game, expecting an answer to what my character is doing in this magnificent forest. What I didn’t expect was that the game would allow me to shape my own origin story.
Wild Hearts allows you to pet smaller Kemono and the Tsukumo is your companion throughout the game. These are some minor additions (which I appreciate) that add more layering to a game that desperately needs to set itself apart from all the other monster-hunting games out there.
However, the major spin is of course the Karakuri. The variety of weapons allows for more ways to take on the different Kemono. Combining the use of weapons with the Karakuri is a delight and makes it worth hopping on from one hunt to the next.
Where it went wrong
There are a lot of resources to collect, you cook food to gain buffs for combat, and a plethora of other side stuff to get into. But at the heart of it, Wild Hearts remains a game about hunting monsters. While I initially grew fond of the gameplay, the drive quickly wore off due to the lack of a strong narrative. There’s no denying the fact that Wild Hearts is a game primarily focused on challenging players with difficult beasts to defeat.
Another issue is the monster runaway threshold. For a game that’s supposed to provide a satisfying combat experience, the beasts running away to far-off distances in the middle of the fight creates an annoying and disrupting pattern.
The ability to play online is a fantastic and needed feature but it is marred with its own difficulties at the moment with next to no timer when the battle ends. Players who join the fight to aid others are at the mercy of the host. If the host slays the beasts the moment it is downed, the other hunters are instantly kicked from the session. This does not allow players who came to help, a chance to gather resources like broken monster parts or carving up tails.
The performance issues on PC haven’t helped Wild Hearts case as well. I’ve experienced stuttering issues at times when all I’m doing is roaming the lands of Azuma. From the reports, it’s not a good sign for a AAA game to be released with major performance issues, not just on PC but also on PS5. But there’s a patch coming soon to address it. Wild hearts has had a rocky start with performance issues but a couple of patches and the planned free content updates can seriously improve the game.
It’s crucial to note that the monster-hunting game genre has been dominated by Capcom. Omega Force’s attempt to challenge that reign does not come through mere imitation but has its own original take on the genre. The Karakuri is an innovative blend which creates new avenues for gameplay experience. Crossplay functionality is a great feature and it’s impressive how seamless it is to create and join sessions to play online.
Wild Hearts, at its best, is a deserving alternative for fans to consider. Wild Hearts does have its moments and it carries enough weight to make you stay with it just a bit longer, each time you play it.