Have you ever considered the possibility that your life is dictated by someone else’s decisions and not your own? That your life is merely a game dictated by an overseer who chooses the course of action an event should take? They could hold the ability to decide whether you save someone’s life at the risk of your own, or fail through some random event. This is the premise of Will: A Wonderful World, a text-heavy game that has you deciding the outcome for many potentially problematic situations. Are you a deity who aims for the best outcome, or are you someone who seeks to find the worst possible choices for those whom you hold power over?
Existential questions aside, Will: A Wonderful World casts players as a god who holds power over the fates of characters in various situations. Some of these situations are life threatening, while others are mundane. Regardless, they are a big deal to the character in question. As a god you receive either letters that come from a person’s soul during stressful situations or, simply, a regret. These tell of moments to come or that might have happened for the letter-writer, and you work to find the ending that helps the writer or that could make things even worse.
This isn’t as simple as it sounds, however. After reading these people’s stories, you must figure out a way to solve a puzzle using logical problems and a sequence of events. The letters tell the tale of what the characters went through. In the original reality, as an example, one character went to a store, bought chocolate milk, drank said milk, entered a dark alley, realized they lost their wallet, and then passed out and woke up in the hands of someone unsavory. The letter highlights the primary problem and order of events that led to that point and offers you the chance to fix the situation, requiring you to find a new order from the above mentioned events that will change what happens. But things could get worse in the aforementioned scenario.
I had mentioned the character having been abducted following the events, but a change in sequence will have her in a new situation. By changing the order she could simply have been hospitalized, having passed out near someone friendly whom she originally missed due to timing. Although, the same story could face greater consequences: she wanders further in the dark alley, and someone more unsavory picks her up, for example.
Each scenario comes with multiple endings and a ranking system. The best possible ending is S rank, and the worst is Bad Rank. All scenarios impact future events of the character, with some stories crossing over with another and impacting the futures or lives of them. For example, a particular story ending for a cat can get a young boy whom you can also help killed. Obviously, this would be a bad ending.
But again, things are not so simple. Sometimes a character’s actions will assist another in their events. Scenarios such as giving one character a twisted ankle so another can win a tennis match can happen in Will: A Wonderful World. Seeing two different sets of events and trying to consider what will help one but not ruin another is tough. Sometimes one event may hold no meaning for someone but could mean life for another, but at the same time that missing event might be more impacting than you thought. I find the amount of thought required makes some of these situations fun to solve.
As far as the gameplay goes, this is really it. Will: A Wonderful World never expands beyond these challenging, puzzling situations. That’s fine, as this is the meat of the game and solving the problems is satisfying, especially as the game often finds new ways to order the puzzles, to make you think in different ways.
As much as I could talk up Will: A Wonderful World with its often intelligent design, I have reached the conclusion of the gameplay discussion. The game does have issues that negatively impact the experience. It is all a case of trial-and-error. If you mess up you can simply try again, and I don’t like that. You are playing with people’s lives. Surely these events could only happen once, so wouldn’t it be more accurate to make us only get one shot? This would force us to settle for whatever ending we get and see how the stories spiral from there. I like being able to aim for all S ranks and be a good person who offers the best chance for those I am charged with, but I would like some kind of fail state. Give me three chances to get it right rather than infinite tries until I find the magic combination.
However this isn’t the case because the game wants you to explore the different scenarios and discovering them is half the fun. Besides, you need multiple chances for some of the puzzles, since specific events need to exist together or in a certain order at times. Another occurrence is where you can’t get the S rank because you need information. One such story sees a police officer attending to a hostage situation, but another story with another officer shows his investigation providing information for the first. The original officer will be able to learn something because you specifically provided this information which will guide him towards the best outcome.
All that being said there are many times where the game locks you from making progress unless you get S ranks, which mitigates the ability for failure. Often the game expects you to play the helpful deity. In fact, the main character you portray aims to make things better. There were multiple times where I found I couldn’t progress just because I couldn’t get certain scenarios to an S rating, which slows down the game and makes you feel less powerful.
It feels like a waste.Will has the potential to offer an interesting experience with moral conundrums. Do you choose the path that helps, or as close as the scenario’s conclusion allows? Do you play the ignorant deity, letting things progress on their natural path for the worse? I think that in making a quality puzzle game the developers missed the opportunity to create a think piece. It could be something that would have its players contemplating the correct path rather than eluding to a sense of freedom that barely exists, with stories more often following on the S-rank path, and only rarely letting you stray because you need more information from another character.
Will is a game that is more about the “best possible outcome” than player discretion. You can’t seek to be chaotic when you are tethered to moral responsibility. You are a good person, or so the girl you play under the guise of wants you to be. Puzzles are challenging but never impossible. They just ask that you stretch your thinking and consider the best sentence placement that spells out an optimal sequence of events while pertaining to set rules and guidelines. I can’t complain about a game achieving its goal even at the cost of its own implied options.
Even with some complaints, Will is still worth checking out. If you love story-driven games or creative puzzle experiences it will be right up your alley. It tells many powerful and thoughtful stories that can haunt you or just leave you thinking.
That being said, I must provide a warning: Will tells some very mature stories that deal with suicide, abuse, alcoholism and so much more. This game is not for the faint of heart and if you suffer from depression, it might not be the best fit. Nonetheless, Will is a good experience that, despite its flaws, will satisfy fans of the genre.
Simon reviewed Will: A Wonderful World on Switch using a personally purchased copy.