Parents' Guide to

The Wild at Heart

By Angelica Guarino, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Charming story cheers childhood escapism in runaway tale.

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If at first glance, you find that this adventure bears an immediate resemblance to Nintendo's Pikmin series, you're not the only one. Though mechanisms such as the crafting process and elemental abilities of Spritelings as well as the day/night cycle are similar to those games, there's quite a lot that makes The Wild at Heart unique. First, its lore is deep. While there's a lot of reading to be done for players to get their bearings, no time's wasted. All the information presented is cohesive and relevant, and the instructions are very easy to follow. In fact, all of the characters in The Wild at Heart are delightful, though it's probably safe to label the adorable Spritelings as the greatest highlight. Second, the art style is beautiful, with environments that beg to be explored. Though there may be moments where players are stuck on the solution to a certain task, wandering around areas you've explored is satisfying enough to hold the player's attention until the missing solution presents itself. Third, the story is serious, with bits of information about Wake's home life spliced between days of nonstop action. Though Wake doesn't have a loud personality or strong sense of self, players will immediately care for him, wondering why he's chosen to run away from home, and hoping that his adventures in the Deep Woods provide some clarity and safety he's searching for.

Finally, The Wild at Heart captures a wide-reaching, yet rather inexplicable feeling that many associate with childhood. In the Deep Woods, players feel like they never know what lies around the next corner, though the environments do come with helpful maps to avoid too much meandering. There's joy in every instance of throwing a Spriteling towards an enemy, and every collected piece of scrap metal feels like a treasure. On paper, there's nothing groundbreaking or totally shocking about The Wild at Heart, but its greatest accomplishments are the exhilarating moments within the small details.

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