A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
The entire purpose of the game is building relationships with others by getting to know and understand them over time, emphasizing compassion, empathy, and communication.
Positive Role Models
There are few characters players won't be able to understand or empathize with, and many patients/staff members form close-knit relationships with each other and Casey as she gets to know them better. Many patients enjoy Casey's company and are genuinely curious about what she wants to do in her life.
Not only are different nationalities represented throughout the game, but the game delves into the lives of older people and some of the challenges they face due to their age.
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Ease of Play
It's incredibly easy to move around the airship and keep track of where characters are at all times.
Violence & Scariness
There's no violence, but the game can be scary in terms of talking about death and how it affects those who are left to deal with the loss of a loved one.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
You can uncover details about some characters' current/former romantic relationships, but nothing excessive or obscene.
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Cursing is very infrequent, but it does come up occasionally in the form of "damn," "hell," "bitch," and "s—t."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Wayward Strand is a downloadable single-player narrative-focused adventure game available for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Windows. Players will assume the role of Casey Beaumaris, a teenager looking to uncover the mystery of a hospital in the sky. Along the journey, players will get to know a cast of interesting, eccentric characters among the staff and patients and are encouraged to help them in various ways, emphasizing compassion, empathy, and communication. Casey will be surrounded by understanding people who want to get to know her better and give her advice on how to navigate through life as a younger person. The game's extremely easy to play as Casey will just move throughout the airship and speak to characters as they go about their lives. There is occasional profanity in the form of "damn," "hell," "bitch," and "s—t." Death and its ramifications are also major topics in the game.
Is It Any Good?
It's so easy to get lost in gaming's biggest, loudest, most action-packed releases over the course of a year instead of the quieter titles. Wayward Strand stands out simply by choosing to focus on the little meaningful moments you have with those around you. Taking place over the span of three days, this is an experience that's whatever the player makes it. There's no big, bombastic story – you're mostly just walking around, either talking to people to learn more about them and keeping them company or eavesdropping on conversations where you may discover something you wouldn't have been able to find out directly. While this may not sound particularly exciting, the game does everything right to keep the experience lively and emotionally fulfilling. With every new piece of information you gather about a person, Casey, the main character, jots it down in her notebook. Over time, this becomes both an endearing personal history of Casey's relationship with any particular character and an accessible, fun way for players to build out a personality profile of a person by keeping tabs on them throughout Casey's three-day hospital journey.
The game's main gimmick is the fact that the lives of the characters on the airship continue in real-time, meaning that these aren't just static characters standing in a room, waiting for Casey to honor them with a conversation simply because she's the protagonist. People are always moving around her to do what they need to do, and it's entirely possible to stumble into a revelation or event by accident, adding replayability as you might find yourself wanting to stick to a certain patient just to get more of their story. When Casey initially boards the airship, her main goal is to interview the nurses and patients of the airship hospital to learn more about the airship itself and write about it for her school's newspaper. But what she and the player gets is an experience that transcends the initial "mystery" altogether. What begins as a straightforward interview process becomes a series of small, personal stories about getting older, reckoning with the inevitability of death, and reflecting on the choices a person makes and those who mean the most to them. It's a game that tells the player to really make the most of the present to not have regrets about the past. When it's Casey's time to leave and go back to school after the long weekend at the hospital, it's almost devastating as you'll be deeply invested in these characters and will immediately want to play the game again just to get more time with them. Wayward Strand may not be the loudest voice in the room, but it's easily the most meaningful and heartfelt one.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.