Spinning a new yarn
There are a lot of games that take themselves very seriously. Some do it because of their themes, others due to the message that the creator wants to impart. There's nothing wrong with that and for that message, a serious tone is the perfect fit. There's also plenty of games that invite players into colorful worlds where they don't need to worry about the end of the world, or even an enemy sneaking up on them. Woven takes place in a world made entirely of wool, where you can spend time exploring the environment and going on an adventure.
The characters in Woven are Stuffy, an absent-minded plush toy, and Glitch, a mechanical firefly. Both character's charming designs serve to show the difference between the mechanical and wooly. Glitch has hard edges and fast erratic movements, while Stuffy ambles at his own pace. It's explained to the player that Stuffy has always been alone, only finding interest in pretty flowers that he happens upon. Glitch, upon waking, doesn't remember where he came from. With the goal of figuring out where Stuffy belongs and where Glitch comes from they team up to roam the world. All this exposition is cheerfully delivered to the player by an unseen narrator speaking only in rhymes. While at first, I was fearful that this would get tiring this actually added to the charm of the game. It felt like having a story read to you.
At the start of your adventure, Stuffy is an elephant. As you explore the world, you'll find blueprints that can change Stuffy's shape. Each different animal shape opens up different abilities to Stuffy. Earning blueprints requires players to complete a Guitar Hero-like minigame. You're then able to take them to a stitching station to customize to your heart's content. An elephant's head can trumpet and feet can stomp, but if you use the hands of a cat you'll be able to press a button. You can alter the head, body, each hand, and the legs of Stuffy all independently so feel free to mix and match your own woolen abomination. You can also come across areas of the world with different patterns patched in. After Glitch scans then you can apply them to Stuffy to give him a brand new look.
You'll always have a clear aim in the game to achieve whether it's "get to the other end of the field", or "make your way up a mountain". You clear these obstacles by using a different ability or pattern that you collect in the open world. If you don't have the skill or pattern required it's normally not too far away. Getting to your objective is easy but getting the patterns and skills required will force the player to comb the overworld. As each section of the game gets bigger and more complicated this process can become somewhat tedious. One early use of patterns as a solution is matching your pattern to the floor to avoid a spider. There were multiple paths so you didn't have to get all the patterns, but enough for you to have to do a thorough search.
The game is bright and inviting, like wool, but comes across a bit too fuzzy. No matter where the camera was positioned as I played, all of the characters and world looked out of focus. You could tell where each object began and ended but this effect came off as blur rather than properly recreating the look of wool. After extended play sessions, it ended up being difficult to focus on, having to strain my eyes for the world to look somewhat normal.
Woven is a game that allows players to take a stroll through a storybook. You interact with a world of interesting patterns and creatures simply trying to make your way to the other end. Some players might find the mechanics or exploration boring or repetitive. If you're wanting a game that you can take at your own pace and enjoy this might be what you want. Personally, the gameplay cycle became a bit too small between finding a new area, getting a new skill/pattern, and moving on all in quick succession.
TechRaptor covered Woven on Nintendo Switch using a copy provided by the developer. This title is also available on Xbox One, PC, and PlayStation 4.