Preview: What’s up with Wattam?

What am I wanting to play? Well, it is Wattam, of course! This Keita Takahashi game has been waiting in the wings for years. After all, it was first announced at the 2014 PlayStation Experience. A new engine and some updates later, it finally looks closer to becoming a reality. Funomena and Annapurna Interactive are saying it could be released in 2018, and it certainly is looking closer to a final release.

Wattam is a game about discovery. It is about friendship. It is about joining hands to sing a song. It’s about ripping off part of your body and throwing it like a frisbee. It is about inhaling your friends to “eat” them, then pooping them out as fruit. Essentially, it is full of the same weird interactions and unspoken goals as Takahashi’s Katamari Damacy and Noby Noby Boy, with the same sort of bright and colorful world.

In Wattam, players begin with just the Mayor. He’s a green cube with a snazzy hat and mustache. He is sad, because he is alone. Except he isn’t. As he goes to sit on a rock and cry to himself, he notices something! It is a rock! A rock that is actually a someone! After interacting with the rock, it is revealed to be sentient. The Mayor is no longer alone!

It is then that one of Wattam’s main mechanics is revealed. You can be anyone at any time in the game. Swapping roles is encouraged, as each character has unique skills and may be needed to welcome new friends into the Mayor’s life. The Mayor can lift his hat to cause a happy explosion. (This leaves him reeling and can result in rainbow vomit if you make him too dizzy after he lands.) Flowers can inspire one another to bloom or remove their petal tops to fling like a disc. A giant nose can smell things. An acorn can plant itself in fertile ground. A tree can eat other people and turn them into fruit. Things are constantly growing and escalating, with each character playing their part.

The idea of friendship is another mechanic. Character can and are encouraged to work together. You can greet characters. Holding hands is key to moving people around. You even use a happy circle of laughing friends to encourage the acorn to turn into a tree. You are able to bring in a real-world friend for local multiplayer, something that makes a goal like creating a friendship circle much easier.

The one thing I have noticed in Wattam so far is that it can be difficult to determine objectives sometimes. This is a minimalistic game. The Mayor and his friends may hint at things to do. At suspicious spots, the appropriate person may go “Hmm.” You may get an occasional tutorial screen with a brief message. This means experimentation is critical when it comes to finding out what you can possibly do. Often, switching to someone else is enough to get that ah-ha moment, but this could end up being a challenge the longer someone plays.

Wattam is a game about connections. Connections between characters. Connections between interactions. Maybe even connections between people sitting in the room with you as you play. It seems like the more time people invest in it, the more you will get to do.

Wattam will be coming to the PlayStation 4 and PC in 2018.

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