Walden, a game from USC Games is certainly a different type of game that stands out from everything else on PlayStation 4. Find out why in our Walden, a game review!
Walden, a game is a very different type of game on PlayStation 4 since it’s a project that set on bringing to life Walden, a book from Henry David Thoreau that details his experience living in a cabin he built close to Walden Pond – hence the name of the book and this game. You’ll step into Thoreau’s shoes as you experiment living near the shores of Walden Pond, fully immersed in nature. The game could be called a survival game at heart, but it’s pretty much an experience that takes you deep into what he lived through during that time in the cabin.
You walk with the left analog stick and move the camera around with the right analog stick. If you want to sprint, you can do so by holding down on the L1 or R1 buttons while you move. You can use the X button to interact with things, such as the arrowhead placed on top of a stone during the starting portion of the game. You can also press the Circle or R2 button to zoom into objects to inspect them more closely and write down any useful information, or to draw inspiration from them. You can press up on the D-Pad to open your journal, in which you have a map where new locations and resources you find will be added.
This being a survival game, you will need to keep your food and fuel properly stocked, as well as keep your shelter and clothing in working shape. You consume around one jar of food for each in-game day, and your shelter and clothing will suffer from the wear and tear of daily use. Because of this, you’ll need to find more food and fuel, as well as repair your shelter and clothing. You will notice a prompt on the screen when one of your four parameters is running low, and if one of them turns red you know it’s at a critical state, so you should immediately turn your attention to it. If you’re in a critical condition you will get tired more easily and can end up fainting, which is not good.
You can perform tasks in your day to day, from demanding tasks such as hammering things or, say, rowing, which require more energy, to easier tasks such as collecting driftwood or picking up berries, which are a bit more laidback – every action you take will consume some of your energy so you should always keep an eye on that! Oh, and speaking of berries, before picking some you should zoom in on them to check if they’re edible and if they’re in season, which is definitely important.
You can get jobs every now and then, which you can review on your journal. If you want to take on one, you can get to the required location and follow the instructions to do what is needed. When you’re done, you’ll be paid for your effort so that you can put that money to good use. Money can be spent to purchase provisions which you’ll need to survive though the in-game days and the passing seasons, particularly during the harsh winter. Sure, going into town to work on things and use the money to purchase stuff sorta goes against the overall message of the book, but that’s something we can discuss at another time.
As you play the game, you’ll get to read some of the things that Thoreau wrote in Walden, as well as hear said quotes from the book by the voice actor taking on the role of the writer, as you live through the moments that defined his experience with nature and his connection with the location and its wildlife. “When I wrote the following pages, or rather the bulk of them, I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor, in a house which I had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond.”
After you’ve completed what is basically the adaptation of Thoreau’s first year of living in the cabin, you’ll get to experience something that is closer to the “sandbox mode” you’d find in other first-person survival games. To learn more about this experience, you should definitely check our interview with Tracy Fullerton, who worked hard for over a decade to bring this tale to life.
Walden, a game is a very interesting PlayStation 4 release that adapts a literary classic into a unique take on an inspirational tale. If I had to describe it in one sentence, it could be distilled into a survival walking simulator of sorts, but by the end of the overall experience, this will end up feeling as something that transcends that. This is a game I highly recommend you get on PS4, and kudos to Tracy Fullerton and USC Games for taking on this project since all the effort and care they put into the game definitely shows.
This Walden, a game review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy provided by USC Games.