Wayward Sky Review
Wayward Sky takes place in a kooky world that soars high above the clouds, where you hitch rides by grabbing hold of flying chickens and hose down mechanical insects to defeat them. Charm emanates from its cartoonish animations and delightful environments, but fails to deliver compelling gameplay. While it is an interesting concept for a VR title, it gets held down by simplistic mechanics.
Playing as a young co-pilot named Bess, you and your father’s plane crashes on a sprawling, floating structure filled with strange machines and robots. After your father is kidnapped by an oversized robot, you traverse this fortress above the clouds, solving puzzles along the way.
Using the PSVR with PlayStation Move controllers in hand, you tower over the world in third-person, making it look like a tiny diorama that you mold with the help of strange mechanisms. This high-up perspective is one of Wayward Sky’s best qualities, making you feel like a giant as you manipulate areas to create new paths, such as pulling levers to twist a crane around or connect bridges. When controlling the many curious contraptions around the fortress, you switch to first-person and use your two detached, hovering hands to activate levers and switches. At times, these intriguing moments are let down by imprecise controls, such as struggling to turn a water main wheel using the Move controllers.
The environments in Wayward Sky are fascinating and full of detail, from steampunk gears spinning overhead and floating platforms that are connected via ziplines. Several collectibles are scattered around, including wind-chimes you construct. Some are hidden behind corners and I had to physically lean to one side to find them, while others could be obscured from view until I looked upwards. Physically moving in VR to discover these secrets is entertaining, and adds to the immersion.
Puzzles, on the other hand, offer little challenge, making the game feel breezy and simple. Some doors require you to press different switches to gain the right combination through trial-and-error, others are unlockable just by screwing in a series of light bulbs. Ziplines around the world need to be turned and faced in correct directions to proceed, and while grappling on them is fun, these are never too difficult to solve, making the overall experience lackluster.
In-between these puzzle-centric levels, you are treated to interactive flashbacks or cutscenes that paint a backstory for the characters and the world. One of these includes a scene where Bess and her father are working at their farmhouse, which gives us a glimpse at their relationship but lacks the depth necessary to inspire a connection to them. My most memorable time here was playing fetch with a couple chickens, which was fun as I flung rubber balls towards them with my Move controller. Nonetheless, these flashbacks seemed rushed and short, failing to make a lasting impression.
Wayward Sky is an entertaining adventure that never quite takes off. I enjoyed exploring the environments, but it doesn’t build on its delightfully charming world to make it memorable. It’s a good showcase for VR, where you feel immersed in its universe as you take control of several quirky machines, but the alluring concept falls flat as it never manages to be as intuitive as the world it presents.