Much of the time, players come to the point-and-click adventure genre in search of involving storylines, memorable characters and settings with rich world building. But you know what? Sometimes the kids are in bed, dishes are done, you’ve got work in the morning and in those few blessed hours , all you want is a brisk visit to someplace pretty and a handful of puzzles before calling it a night. In our Beyond the Wall review we will see how, as such moods go, the game satisfies.
There will be nobody home
The story is basic as can be: one summer evening, a nameless little girl—that’s you— is going to visit her friend There’s a light in the upper window, but no answer at the front gate. She takes it on herself to scale the wall of the garden and make her way through the rambling grounds up to the house to see what’s what. Along the way she’ll run into all sorts of strange critters who are in no mood to accommodate a nosy human child. She’ll have to use her wits to get past them and, finally, reach her absent friend.
That’s all there is, and it’s all you really need to enjoy what’s on offer here. You’re at point A, over there is point B—get moving. Each screen operates on the same basic logic: something is stopping you from moving forward, and your immediate task is to get around it. If you ever forget what you’re trying to do, a question mark icon in the top right corner will bring up a childish drawing showing you your current goal.
A self-contained puzzle
Puzzles are straightforward affairs; each screen is its own self-contained “level,” with no need (or ability) to revisit previous ones until the very end. As long as you’re willing to do some searching, you’ll find everything you need to progress somewhere in front of you. Picking up an item deposits it in your inventory at the top of the screen. Clicking on it, once it’s there, places it on your cursor to use in the environment, with a right-click sending it back.
Most of the puzzles involve your inventory in some way; a few solutions aren’t totally logical, but with only a handful of hotspots on each screen you’ll be able to figure these out through process of elimination. Clearly, a way to highlight the items we can interact with or some way to differentiate between static background elements and points of interaction would have been nice. As it is, unfortunately there’s no way to tell where a hotspot exactly is, except by clicking around. Beyond the Wall started out on mobile, and it shows.
The puzzles, though, are secondary to the game’s real focus: its atmosphere. The scenery is lovely to look at, with watercolor-style art that brings to mind the pictures in an old storybook; character models are simple but expressive, and our little heroine’s relative silence does nothing to dampen her personality. Aside from a few grunts and coos there’s no spoken dialogue, but everybody makes themselves understood.
The music accentuates the feeling of wandering through an enchanted garden on a hot summer evening; warm, understated guitar tracks and dreamy, muted xylophone blend with the sounds of chirping crickets and chortling frogs in the underbrush to create an air simultaneously relaxed and mysterious.
Some gathered together in bands
To sum it up in one word, Beyond the Wall is pleasant. It’s short—two hours at the most—and its story and characters are mostly excuses to bathe in the lovely mood the developers at Rocking Toy have conjured up. The puzzles require just enough thought to feel like a gentle challenge, and, aside from a few outliers, they mostly make sense once you’ve solved them.
Like a walk along a garden path, it’s a nice way to spend a bit of time that won’t tax your brain too much or change your life. Looking back on it, you’ll likely remember the nice time you had, rather than exact moments, or specific puzzles. If a pleasant time is what you’re looking for, Beyond the Wall won’t disappoint.
It is a few hours long walk through a fairy-tale garden, solving gently challenging puzzles and taking in the sights and sounds. Some of its puzzles don’t work as well as others, and its roots as a mobile game ported to PC do show through in its interface, but it ought to satisfy anyone looking for a bite-sized adventure to enjoy in one sitting.
Our Beyond the Wall review was made with a key shared by the developers, Rocking Toy. Beyond the Wall is available on iOS, Android and Steam.
Beyond the Wall: While its roots as a mobile game ported to PC show through, Beyond to Wall should satisfy anyone looking for a pleasant bite-sized adventure to enjoy in one sitting. – Will Aickman