Back when Wattam was first announced, we knew Keita Takahashi’s latest would be about a character known as the Mayor getting to know other unique individuals and befriend them. Then, in the time since, that… pretty much remained all that we knew. Wattam would show up at events, we’d have fun interacting with characters alone or in pairs, and we’d still wonder what it all meant. Now that it is finally here, 2019 has given us the second game about successfully building connections with others, with this one being a lot brighter than Death Stranding.
An unspecified number of years ago, a tragedy befell the area. Everyday life was disrupted and everyone was separated. No one’s exactly sure what happened. All we do know is that Mayor, a green cube with a mustache, a mysterious black hat, and the ability to trigger explosively wonderful kabooms, is alone. He begins as the only character on a dark, floating island, contemplating his situation.
Fortunately, Mayor isn’t as alone as he thinks. When he goes to sit on a boulder, he spies a tiny stone. This kicks off a chain of events. While things may seem dark and desolate, Mayor was never really alone. Stone was there! Making friends with Stone, his first friend mind you, started a chain reaction. Once you meet the Stone, Stone realizes that boulder was an anthropomorphic Rock. Rock waking up revealed a hole in the ground and led the group to notice small buds that could become flowers. Getting the flowers to come back and using Mayor’s kaboom ability by lifting his hat made Nose return.
Basically, Wattam is the video game equivalent of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Because Nose sniffs out Acorn. Acorn plants themselves in the hole. Circle dancing with some of the available individuals around the tree sprout brings back your first tree. The tree inhaling individuals like Mayor and Yellow Flower turns them into food like Onion or Meat. This attracts the Table intermediary, who brings new friends like Mouth back. If Mouth eats food, they become poops, which makes the Toilet return with the smaller Toilet and Pipe and triggers the “A Toilet’s Duty” quest.
Wattam constantly expands. Once Mayor starts helping and meeting people around him, he learns more about what is going on. New islands pop up, letting you send characters onto the giant Table and Toilet to ferry them to a new place with new conditions. Completing objectives there summons new friends, teaches you new abilities, and offers insights into why Mayor needs to reconnect everyone. When your first tree appears, you learn to climb. When Balloon returns, you discover how to help characters fly. Getting additional biomes lets you zoom out and travel to new areas. New individuals, like Fan, give you a chance to change the environment and trigger new actions.
It also means Wattam’s identity develops further. At first sight, Wattam might seem very experimental. It could seem like it is about linking people up and causing silly explosions, so you can see how characters react and hear the laughter of small children. (Every one of these creatures sounds like an adorable kid.) For example, once Autumn returns, you get your first large quest chain. A camera is unhappy, which means doing a lot of things to make it feel better. The biggest part of this requires feeding a Chestnut Tree some Ikura sushi. Which means you have to travel to another island to meet the incomplete Ikura sushi and find out where its salmon roe pieces are. You learn that those are its “children,” and must find the six Ikura kids, all so you can feed them to that tree regrow leaves, which will finally give that camera a sense of purpose.
Wattam resonates in a very pleasant way. We have some happy characters in a very silly world dealing with an unfortunate situation as best they can. People try to help each other out, each using their own unique abilities to solve situations in occasionally unconventional ways. You’ll watch a world grow in front of you, one that is colorful and inviting. It is as pleasant as possible.
Wattam will be available on the PlayStation 4 and PC on December 17, 2019.