It is always greatly appreciated when game developers take an already existing concept and give it their own unique, fun twist. Take Wild Hearts, for example. You may draw similarities between the new monster hunter and Capcom’s Monster Hunter, or Death Stranding. But, sink a few hours into Wild Hearts, and trust, you’ll feel like your entire view on the co-op monster hunter-slaying experience has changed.
But we’re not here to blow Wild Heart’s horn without reason or cause. Definitely, not leaving anything to chance when it comes to breaking apart the fundamentals that build it. So, if you’re feeling like getting back to the monster hunter gig but aren’t sure whether Wild Hearts ticks all of the worthwhile games-to-play checkboxes, make sure to stick around till the end of this Wild Hearts review to find out.
Monster Spotted, Slay ‘Em
Wild Hearts doesn’t offer much of a story, which, let’s be honest, isn’t the first thing you’ll want to come through. Most of us will be looking forward to the gameplay. How does slaying the monsters feel? What tools are at your disposal? Are the monsters even challenging enough? That kind of thing. But, for the sake of formalities, here’s the gist of Wild Hearts’ premise.
You’re whisked off to a land called Azuma. This place is a feast for the eyes. Just from first sight, it’s clear developer Omega Force understands the appeal of exceptional graphics. In some parts, you’ll wander around the town of Minato, getting acquainted with its people and developing those empathetic strings you need to accept the heroic task ahead of you.
This task has everything to do with the gigantic, nature-infused, demonic creatures called Kemono. These creatures have now departed from their usual hunting grounds and are starting to camp too close to the town. So, it’s up to your humane physical self to master the tools and skills provided and slay each one before they wreak havoc on Minato.
Uhm. That’s it. That’s pretty much all you need to know to get started on Wild Hearts’ adventures. You likely won’t even remember a single character’s name. Which is the complete opposite of the overwhelmingly memorable fights and crafting system.
Honestly, it’s more than enough of a premise for me. I’m here to slay some monsters. The reason behind my slaying them doesn’t really matter that much. Well, at least we know they’re nature-infused, so it’s not like they just sprout out of nowhere. Unless you’re into a rich, deep story in your games, Wild Hearts nails that end of the deal quite well.
In case you’re wondering what nature-infused means exactly, it’s simply put, the power of nature over time. It’s fantastical, of course. The story is that normal animals like monkeys, wolves, crows, and more are fused with powerful natural elements to create these giant monsters rampaging across Azuma. It’s a neat concept.
Given the variety of animals that exist in nature and the countless possibilities of the fearsome beasts, they could create. From six-eyed boars to ferry-sized fire monkeys to giant flying squirrels, Wild Hearts doesn’t leave anything to chance. So, rest assured, the Kemono you’ll contend with on your journey will more than deliver, whether visually or in battle. This brings us to what typically counts: gameplay.
Ancient Weapon Technology to the Rescue
If you’re going up against a giant monster, you’ll want weapons that pack an extra crunch and deal damage on impact. Otherwise, you stand helpless, with only so much dodging you can do. Fortunately, Wild Hearts doesn’t slack on that front, thanks to eight distinctively fascinating weapons to choose from.
Among the weapons, you can charge at monsters with include a claw blade, a bow, a katana, a cannon, a staff, and more. The weapon you choose could make or break a battle, so be sure to choose wisely. Rest assured, there isn’t any specific one that is a complete waste to go with.
Remember the fun twist we talked about? Wild Hearts goes ahead and throws craftsmanship into the mix. So, essentially, you can build stuff while exploring Azuma. Or, you could craft something on the fly while in battle.
That “something” falls under basic, fusion, or dragon structures that create stuff like walls or springboards mid-battle. Or, stuff like zip lines or tents to help you fast-travel across Wild Hearts' expansive maps. It's pretty much like Fortnite, with the first step is collecting magical threads, then building structures on the fly.
We won’t go too in-depth into the specifics. All you need to know is that karakuris are diverse enough to come to your aid when building new weapons, traversing the lands, or turning a losing battle into a solid win. Yes, I’ll say it again. You can, in fact, conjure karakuris mid-battle.
It’s a pretty fun concept that adds a nice touch to the usual combat mechanics. And, it gets even more interesting when you can combine karakuris to build bigger, more powerful structures like stacking six crates to create a bulwark used to repel attacks from the more gigantic Kemonos.
Taking a Pause to Appreciate Azuma
I have to give my thumbs up to Azuma’s design. Even from the screenshots, you can see how the structures, the monsters, and the protagonist easily jump off the screen so beautifully. Although some areas are too vast to navigate on foot, Wild Hearts solves that issue with the karakuri system, which allows you to build structures to help you fast-travel across its lands.
Oh, and Wild Hearts’ maps features different seasons across its maps. It’s not the simplest of ideas to execute. You can certainly see some parts where there may have been some strain, like in the Winter map in the unnatural way the snow falls. Still, when assessed as a whole, Wild Hearts is a stunning display of a world coated with moss, flowers, and just, visual art.
Gameplay at a Glance
Merging all these nitty gritties together, Wild Hearts presents a tactical gameplay system where you actually need to pause and assess a situation before deciding on your course of action. It encourages you to think through scenarios. Even the monsters are defeated differently, and they’re certainly not defeated by chance.
Weapons like the katana or gun may come easily to you. But others might not. Some monsters may be predictable, so you’re able to execute their perfectly well-timed attacks or dodge them accordingly. But others won’t be so easy to take down.
Simply put, there’s no other way to emerge victorious than to learn a monster’s behavior, a combat technique that isn’t always easy to do. But we’re not here for easy now, are we?
Bring a Friend Along
At least you’re free to bring a friend along to the monster-slaying party. It’s always a good idea to combine forces against a sea of monsters. You might even find it easier to stay alive that way.
If you don’t have a friend, you can call over, you may mash up with an online player at the press of a button. At least, the matchmaking system here works well to allow bonding with strangers over monster slaying.
What’s not to love about Wild Hearts? It’s packed full of striking visuals, fun, not-so-little combat twists and turns, and a simple enough story to quickly move things along to what matters most: gameplay. Particularly, the karakuri system adds a nice touch to the usual remedies developers apply to co-op monster hunter games.
Certainly feels like a fresh breath of air to an overly replicated genre. More than anything, tactical gameplay comes in handy. Whether figuring out which structure goes where, or how best to apply each one mid-battle, it’s all engaging in the way I hope future games continue to deliver.
If you’d like to check Wild Hearts out, I wouldn’t hold any reservations to point out, save for the minor PC performance issues that are already on the developer’s radar. These don’t hinder the overall experience in any way, so feel free to grab your copy now on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and Microsoft Windows.
Wild Hearts Review (PS5, Xbox Series X/S, & PC)
A Stunning Monster Slaying Bender to Consider
Wild Heart isn’t an entirely new concept, having mimicked some of the gameplay from its counterpart, Monster Hunter, and the likes of Death Stranding. But, from the innocent similarities you might spot, comes a lot more fun twists Wild Hearts can call its own. This action RPG features a story about hunting for gigantic, nature-infused beasts wreaking havoc on the town of Minato.
The backdrops feature striking visuals that make your journey easier, while the weapons at your disposal are distinct enough to encourage a full-out discovery. The karakuri system introduces a new world where you can conjure stuff like walls, springboards, ziplines, and more to help you fast-travel across Wild Hearts’ expansive maps, craft new weapons, and even use against the monsters mid-battle. This was a fun, memorable experience that I don’t regret spending my time on.