Smilegate’s newest mobile/PC title brings fast-paced roguelike gameplay in Wonderers: Eternal World, where familiar fairy tales are given new life in a cybernetic world. A single mistake can lead to defeat when facing deadly foes and dangerous hazards, and each run is unique with different challenges and power-ups that keep players on their toes!
Players will meet Alice of Wonderland, the Great Thief Ali Baba, and Little Red Riding Hood, who are just some of the game’s cast of characters that players will get to see in a new light with their own combat style to battle foes.
In a recent closed beta held for the US and Canada players, we got to tap into this fantasy realm of Wonderers: Eternal World in advance before it heads to mobile and PC globally in 2023. The CBT brings plenty of activities that wouldn’t look out of place in an MMO; social minigames, real-time PvP, and an extensive character customization system are just some of the ways that players can experience the game outside of PvE.
Wonderers: Eternal World seems to have a lot of potentials, but its current state leaves a lot to be desired for a game developed in Unreal Engine. With poor visual and audio presentation alongside a rushed-out UI, this roguelike has some of its own bugs to take care of before its Heroes can help save Wonderland.
▍Various Game Modes for Different Players
The Glitch Dungeon is the location for Wonderers: Eternal World’s PVE mode, testing the player’s own skills and advancing the game’s story. While some Heroes can be unlocked by completing certain levels within this mode, they can also be purchased using Crystals as an alternative for players uninterested in the roguelike dungeon.
Wonderers: Eternal World also has a PVP mode, where players fight against three other opponents in real-time to collect 9,999 Coins first and obtain a golden crown; Holding the crown for 10 seconds nets that player the win! Players can also purchase Artifacts during the match using collected Coins, which can help fight off enemies and grab Coins even faster.
There’s a ranked and casual version for this mode, providing an option to players who might be nervous about competing against others. If you have friends to play with, you can even set up your own room to fight against them.
Unfortunately, there isn’t any safety net for players who are unable to match up with other players to enjoy these modes who are stuck in a queue, such as providing bots as opponents after a certain amount of time has passed; instead, the player is simply kicked out of the queue after 10 minutes has elapsed.
▍It’s the Minigames that Make it Shines
The minigame section has arguably the most variety in gameplay, with simple objectives that lean more into the social aspect of the game instead of player skill. These minigames aren’t just gimmicks, as you can earn some Coins by winning. While some of the available games don’t require a queue to enter, it can put you at a disadvantage if you’re dropped in the middle of a match.
Players looking to hang out with others will love Wonderers’ cosmetics system, with dyeable swatches, accessories, and cute costumes to choose from! Plenty of customization options can be purchased using in-game currency, sp casual and free-to-play users won’t need to worry about being restricted from customizing their Hero however they like.
▍Skill-Based Gameplay With Little Room for Error
The basic gameplay of Wonderers: Eternal World requires players to use their Skills, Basic Attacks, and any acquired powerups to explore the game’s Glitch Dungeons, which serve as the main source for progression. Clearing each room opens up different paths that you can preview, allowing the player to strategize the best route to take. Each run is a fresh experience as none of the enhancements carry over, testing the player’s ability to work with what they get!
Players choose from seven different Heroes to traverse the Glitch Dungeon with, like Robin, the classic archer, Oz the fragile-yet-powerful spellcaster, and the tanky princess Snow. Alice herself is no slouch, being an aggressive general attacker who can recover her HP in a pinch! Each hero has their own playstyle, so the player is free to experiment around and see who they like best.
Staying alive throughout the dungeon isn’t easy, as you can’t recover your character’s HP outside of limited consumables, certain skills, or Artifacts inside the dungeon; in other words, survival is key! Dodging perfectly can nullify any damage that might be inflicted, but you initially have two dodges to work with before you’ll have to kite around enemy attacks. Taking advantage of the environment is highly recommended, as the player can extinguish flames, grow sunflowers, or simply use obstacles as a barrier to hide behind.
Playing through Glitch Dungeons lets you earn Coins and Speciality Points each attempt, allowing you to empower your character and help you progress even further during future attempts. With the limited number of keys you’re given to claim rewards, it’s important to enter each run with as much of an advantage as possible.
Wonderers’ combat system is solid without being overly complex and is the highlight of the game in its current state as it makes the player think about how to approach each fight. It isn’t perfect as there are some minor issues with targeting enemies, but the number of attacks to keep track of can easily overwhelm a reckless player.
Keeping track of HP, enemy attacks, the environment, and skill cooldowns isn’t easy, but Wonderers’s current format encourages trial and error to build that micromanagement ability alongside what the player can unlock through playing.
A frustrating issue is that if you die after defeating the Boss of the level, it will still count as your loss. Furthermore, if the game crashes while you’re in a dungeon, the game won’t save your progress and won’t refund the Glitch Key you spent to enter.
Another concerning issue is that the Interact function shares the same button as Basic Attack; this can be a problem when trying to attack enemies who are near interactable objects, as Wonderers will prioritize activating these objects and leave the player helpless to enemy attacks.
▍Performance and Presentation Are Red Flags
Wonderers: Eternal World may have a solid combat system and a variety of modes to choose from, but the game’s visuals leave much to be desired for a game developed in Unreal Engine. Leaving the design choice aside to use low-poly chibis, the game’s environment is sparse even on high settings, with blurry UI and dungeon rooms momentarily glitching out while loading.
It’s a shame because the game’s opening cutscene looks quite impressive, and the combat is extremely smooth even on higher settings. Of course, these issues may be well-solved when the game officially came out this year. But in its current state, Wonderers needs polishment to make full use of its vibrant world.
On the other hand, the game’s sound performance is cut out, or even missing altogether. No voice acting isn’t a problem on its own, but with no sound effect to confirm that you’ve proceeded through the text, hard-to-read UI, and some untranslated Korean, this gives the impression that this CBT is a bit of a rush job, even if it’s meant to test the game’s functionality.
▍Slow-Going Player Progression
Progressing through Wonderers: Eternal World is a gradual process, as Speciality Chips and Coins need to be earned to unlock Specialities, Artifacts, Weapon Upgrades, and Pet Skills. Most of these powerups are minor when they are unlocked, but can make a huge difference when paired with the right Artifacts.
Exploring the Glitch Dungeon also lets the player level up their character, which provides a minor stat boost while also giving the player a Skill Point to enhance their base stats or skills. While these boosts are limited to each run, the flexibility of each boost means that the player can adapt to different builds depending on what they come across.
The gacha of Wonderers is split between Artifacts, which can be unlocked in the dungeons, and Pets, which assist the player in your exploration. Unlockables from the gacha aren’t mandatory, but Artifacts like Potion Shot can be very powerful under certain builds. The game’s current Crystal payout ensures that players have a good amount of rolls to work with, but that may change in the final release. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t disclose its rates at this time, so it’s difficult to say how easy it will be to get certain unlockables in its final release.
Providing stat bonuses through cosmetics is an old MMO practice that you will be disappointed to see, as it can set a precedent of paying to win through stat inflation.
Fortunately, stat-boosting cosmetics available to players at this time can be purchased using currency earned from completing the Codex; in other words, players looking to purchase these stat-boosting costumes will need to regularly progress through the Glitch Dungeon.
▍Wonderers Needs Some TLC To Shine
Wonderers: Eternal World is reminiscent of old-school MMORPGs in terms of aesthetics and features, and its roguelike combat is a tense and exciting experience despite its mixed presentation and performance issues. However, given that this is a CBT it’s likely that these issues will be addressed in the final release.
Roguelike fans looking for a challenge should keep a tentative eye on this game, as Glitch Dungeon is an excellent game mode that provides a healthy challenge that keeps you coming back for more. With both a mobile and a PC cliente, Wonderers: Eternal World has the potential to go far as a roguelike if the developers can successfully address the game’s current issues and improve its overall presentation.
*Note that as Wonderers: Eternal World is in its closed beta test, screenshots and video clips in this review may not be reflected in its official release.