A Haunting Weekend in Wayward Manor

This casual puzzle game, narrated by Neil Gaiman, is a nice afternoon filler.

Over the weekend, I spent some time liberating Wayward Manor of its fleshy inhabitants. The casual puzzle game, based on a tale and narrated by author Neil Gaiman, was released on July 15, 2014 to mixed reviews. While I enjoyed my time within developer The Odd Gentlemen's manor, completing a game within three hours can leave much to be desired.

In Wayward Manor, you play an unseen ghost that works with the manor to scare away all of its fleshy denizens and instill quiet upon the house once more. You are faced with simple puzzles by way of manipulating the objects with a green glow. Scare tactics vary with each member of the household; for instance, the father (above) gets distracted and spooked through a combination of booze and music, while the young twins need to be separated before they're vulnerable to fright.

Overall the scare tactics aren't very difficult to figure out. You open up more ways to frighten your target on each chapter level after the initial scare. Common objects you can interact with are bottles (dropped or thrown), tiki statues (spin to deflect arrows or fireballs), gramophones, stuffed mounted trophies, dress stands, carts and windows. Most levels have multiple ways they can be completed, and a few have one-time opportunities that may leave you wanting to replay them.

Each level has three "hidden" achievements — you are given the achievement name at the start of the level, but the requirements are hidden from you until you complete the level. Some of these are easy to figure out from their names, but many of them are difficult to accomplish on your first pass through. After level completion you have the option to replay it if you want to try your hand at figuring out how to accomplish all the achievements. This is really the only replayability factor of the game; it's a completionist's dream.

I only played each level once-through so far, and on many levels completed zero or just one achievement. On a few levels I managed to finish two achievements, but did not complete three in a single pass at all. Out of the 81 Steam achievements, I completed 27 of them in total.

Wayward Manor is a very quick game. As I mentioned earlier, I completed it in just over three hours, with anywhere from 5-15 minutes spent in each level. If you like replaying levels to figure out how to accomplish all the achievements, have a very limited play schedule or really enjoy casual puzzle games, then this game is very much worth grabbing now at its $9.99 Steam price. If you're a hardcore or "once-and-done" gamer, you likely won't find yourself enjoying this game much at all.

I did enjoy my time spent in the game and may revisit it to try and gain more achievements, but overall was somewhat disappointed at how quickly the story played out. The Odd Gentlemen could improve Wayward Manor by expanding its chapters later on, and I hope to see more from them in the future.

Ann "Cyliena" Hosler, Managing Editor


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