Wattam hands-on preview: My friends are my power

The latest game from the creator of Katamari Damacy shows the power of friendship. Shacknews goes hands-on with the whimsical Wattam.

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Life feels a little bit better with friends. Friends bring sunshine, smiles, joy, and laughter wherever they go. And the more friends are around, the better. That just leads to parties and playtime. That's the idea behind Wattam, the latest effort from Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi.

Wattam has been in the works for several years and there's still no set release window for it just yet. But friendship can't be rushed and if it's anything like its whimsical predecessors, Wattam sounds like it'll be an experience worth waiting for. Shacknews is always a better place when everyone's friendly, so in an effort to add some friendship to our daily lives, we recently went hands-on with this tale of discovery.

At the start of the game, the world is much like it is now. But the world is suddenly overcome by darkness and chaos, leaving only a universal void. The only things left are a lonely character, only known as the Mayor, and the rock he's sitting on. But soon enough, the Mayor discovers a small rock and they become fast friends.

Wattam is about extending the chain of friendship. The Mayor and the little rock play on the lonesome hill, holding hands and running around while making use of the Mayor's fancy hat. The hat has some special tricks, like the ability to explode. And given that this is a Keita Takahashi world, the explosions only lead to everybody falling around and rolling on the floor laughing. Their play leads to other objects coming alive, like the rock the Mayor was sitting on. Their laughter brings the sun back from the void, which leads to more interaction possibilities.

And indeed, interactions are the central idea behind the game. The more characters interact with one another, the more friends show up and the more the world starts to open up. Players can select any of the characters to make them play around with each other by using the right analog stick to try and test out the multitude of possibilities. The characters and interactions are as wacky as one would expect from the Katamari creator. For example, a giant mouth shows up, with the idea to feed it fruit from a nearby falling tree, leading to piles and piles of poop. Later, a toilet eventually shows up, because... sure it does! If one sees a toilet and guesses the idea is to flush that poop down, that would be the correct answer.

The playable areas start to expand after a while, with the central puzzle involving transporting friends from place to place. But solving the puzzle of how to make the most of playtime isn't the only objective in Wattam. The demo ended with the Mayor exploring a mysterious space, with another mysterious interaction opening up. The idea of exploring darker spaces adds an intriguing element to Wattam, one that I'm more excited to explore.

There's a lot to smile about with Wattam, thanks to its sheer sense of playfulness and joy. The idea of playing cooperatively is also a fun one, especially for couples looking to pick out a game to play over the weekend. But that weekend is a far way out. Wattam isn't set to release anytime soon, but Takahashi and publisher Annapurna Interactive are aiming for a 2019 release on PC and consoles.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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