Wattam Review — Let's All Kaboom Together
Designer Keita Takahashi is back at it again with the incredibly odd, yet charming, Wattam, a game about friendship, explosions, and lots of poop.
Review copy provided by the publisher
You ever play through an entire video game and look back on your time wondering “what the heck did I just play?” If you haven’t, Wattam might be worth a playthrough just to experience one of the oddest games out there. Granted, that’s kind of what designer Keita Takahashi is known for, but even games like Katamari Damacy and Noby Noby Boy don’t reach the levels of bizarre that Wattam does.
Wattam is a game all about finding and making new friends. You start the game as an anthropomorphic square with a bowler hat. The world as you knew it has ended, but for reasons, objects are starting to slowly appear back in the void that you live in now. At first, there aren’t many things for you to interact with on the starting island; however, that quickly changes.
“Even games like Katamari Damacy and Noby Noby Boy don’t reach the levels of bizarre that Wattam does.”
Every time a new character is introduced, the game welcomes them back to the community and shows you how to interact with them. One of the early game examples is a tree that sucks up other objects and turns them into a fruit or a hunk of meat. And that’s probably the most sensible thing you’ll see.
At one point, I was sucking people up with the tree, turning them into fruit or meat, and then using a human mouth (with arms and legs) to eat the food. Then, the mouth would poop out the food (please don’t ask if I know where the poop is from). It’s literal poop, by the way. Like, there’s a counter for how many times you poop, and you’ll see it every time you save. What I’m saying is that either Takahashi or someone on his team really likes poop. Which, can you blame them? Anyways, after the poop comes out of the mouth (again, don’t ask), it needs to be turned into golden poop. Obviously, this means you have to use the walking and talking toilet to flush it. That makes sense, right?
No, nothing about this game makes sense. You’d expect that to be a hindrance in a game where the only thing you’re really doing is solving puzzles to unlock more objects to turn into poop. However, while nothing happens is sensible in any sense of the word, the puzzles are pretty simple. And it’s not like any of the gameplay is hard to grasp. You can jump, hold hands, climb, and kaboom.
Let’s quickly talk about kabooming because it might be my favorite part of the game. Basically, the square with a bowler hat and all his shape friends have a special skill that lets them take off their bowler hats and explode everyone within the vicinity. And those adorable little fuckers love to kaboom. Seriously, like half the puzzles are solved by blowing everyone up and then they just yell about how much fun it is. I agree with those little dudes. Kabooming is great, and more games should just let you blow everything up whenever you want to.
I can’t write this review and not mention Wattam’s music. Much like the rest of the game, Wattam’s score takes everything you know about conventional music and just throws that right in the bin. Instead, the “music” is what I can only describe as happy baby noises? Or maybe 4-year-olds singing jibberish? I don’t know, man. It’s weird. It’s not bad, but it is totally strange. What I will say is that my dog absolutely loved it. He spent my entire playthrough just staring at the screen trying to figure out where the happy baby was. So, if you need to entertain your dog for a few hours, there’s not a better game than Wattam. Put that on the back of the box, Annapurna.
My only big gripe with Wattam is that I ran into quite a few technical issues. The game crashed on me three times, which came out to about once an hour. Plus, Wattam has some serious issues with slowdown on a base PS4. Anytime you’re kabooming more than five people, the framerate grinds to nearly zero. None of it was that bad given Wattam’s generous auto-saving, but it’s worth noting. Outside of those technical issues, Wattam is a good, if simplistic time for just about anyone.
“In Wattam, you’re simply here to have a good time.”
In an interview from 2005, Takahashi said he didn’t see himself making games in ten years and would instead “create a playground for children”. Honestly, that’s a great way to describe Wattam. There is no combat or involved mechanics to deal with. But there doesn’t have to be. I mean, have you been to a playground lately? It’s hard to have a bad time at a playground. Does that sound creepy? Pretend like it’s not creepy. Playgrounds have swings and slides and jungle gyms and those pipe zipline things that I could never do as a fat kid, but now I’m an adult and can hold up my own body weight, so who’s laughing now, Billy? Oh, and merry-go-rounds!
In Wattam, you’re simply here to have a good time. If you make some friends with a bowling ball named Oliver or a toilet named Nathan, then aren’t you better for it? Plus, how often do you get to stack up your poop to the sky and not get weird looks?
Wattam is not a great video game by any definition. However, it is a great, zero-stress experience that wants to show how great friendship can be. If you’re looking for a game to test your skills or provide you with a mature narrative that makes you think, Wattam ain’t it. However, if you’re having a bad day and just want to unwind by kabooming golden poops all over your screen, Wattam is more than happy to take you under its bowler.