Who could resist a new take on monster-hunting with Monster Hunter dominating the field? Wild Hearts aims to make a space for itself within the genre. Being somewhat of a novice in monster hunting, I was curious to see what Wild Hearts has to offer! Our friends at EA graciously sent us a PC review copy, so let’s check it out!
First, a little about EA Originals: they are mostly known for their indie-like games like It takes Two, Unravel, Sea of Solitude, and more. EA partnered with Koei Tecmo (Fatal Frame, Dead or Alive, Ninja Gaiden) and Omega-Force (Dynasty Warriors, One Piece, Fist of The North Star) to bring us Wild Hearts. Before we get into the finer details, I want to mention that I will be referencing Monster Hunter a lot in this review, but this is not a comparison review as both of these games are unique and stand on their own by their own merits.
Wild Hearts begins with a frank hunter whose main quest is to hunt down colossal monsters known as Kemonos in the world known as Azusa. Kemono are mythical-like creatures with the ability to effect their surroundings and hold a special place in your heart. Players can customize their characters to their liking with decent character creation options and choices.
As a Kemono hunter, you can customize weapons and armor, not so much in the beginning, but as the story progresses, you can customize more. In addition to weapons and armor, players can harness the ability of the Karakuri, which can be equivalent to “spirit energy” but not quite. However, the Karakuri allows players to build valuable items to help them navigate the environment, such as using the Karakuri to manifest crates to help traverse walls, using a flying shot to travel distances faster, and more. Karakuri can even be used in battle, like creating a barrier that can block a charging enemy or go on the offense by creating a mallet to stun the Kemono. There is a ton you can do.
The game is roughly 30+ hours, but Wild Hearts has so much content that players will easily spend over 100 hours on it. There is always a quest you could do, and playing with friends through the story or missions is also a significant plus. In my playthrough, you bet I took my time making my character. I was pleasantly surprised at the ease of character creation and the options available for your characters ranging from diverse hairstyles, skin tones, skin types, colors, etc. I am, in fact, very in love with my hunter. There isn’t much to change in customizing your clothes initially, but as mentioned, you can customize more as you progress. I took roughly 45 minutes to go through the character creation process and was thrilled with the results.
I’m a novice to Monster Hunter and RPGs but not a newbie to uniquely designed creatures/monsters. However, something was refreshing about the creatures in Wild Hearts; the Kemono are beautiful, colossal creatures but downright ugly simultaneously. Of course, more minor, hostile creatures come for your ankles, but even those creatures look unique. I was impressed by the designs, not only of the animals but also how beautiful the environments are. I found myself exploring a lot more than I usually do to see everything.
There is a specific area where you can farm for items and hunt freely on your own or with help from other hunters when you’re playing online. Of course, hidden secrets are out in the wild, and the freedom and environment made me want to look for things. Wild Hearts is not an open-world game. Let me be clear: you have your specific areas where you hunt, but the fact that the sites are so vast gives you the impression that it is an open world.
There are fetch quests, hunts, and more about looking for things. Honestly, they are pretty enjoyable, plus the rewards are rewarding. I also want to mention that this is coming from someone who doesn’t like side missions.
One of the most prominent features that Wild Hearts brings to the monster hunting field is the gameplay. The gameplay in Wild Hearts is sometimes a little wonky, but I believe it’s what sets it apart from the Monster Hunter series. It’s simple, straightforward, easy to learn, and fast pace enough to keep you on your toes for the vicious attacks of the Kemono or even the smaller creatures you encounter while exploring.
I mentioned “wonky” earlier. What does this mean in this case? The Karakuri makes it wonky, and it will take some time to get used to implementing the Karakuri in battle. Once you get used to building crates while dodging an eight-eyed boar and more, you’ll become a master in no time. Wild Hearts will give tips and reminders to use your Karakuri in battle.
While there’s so much that I haven’t touched on, my final take is that I will say that Wild Hearts is its own unique game. While it does have the monster hunting aspect, how the hunting is approached is entirely different and, in fact, a bit more enjoyable for those who could not find themselves getting into Monster Hunter.
The pacing and freedom to do whatever is one of the differences that set Wild Hearts apart. The ability to create actual valuable items out of Karakuri is also another defining, quirky feature. The story is a bit interesting and mildly held my attention. The voice acting was great; however, combining Japanese words and English threw me off slightly. I don’t mind it, but some players may not care or like that they are switching between the two languages.
My playthrough has issues, like the health and power-up bar that kept glitching, sometimes disappearing entirely. I even changed my PC setting to see if that would fix the problem, and unfortunately, it persisted. I also had to mess around with my setting because some environmental textures were not loading correctly or looked terrible. Unfortunately, with that issue, I couldn’t find a solution by messing with my PC settings.
All in all, Wild Hearts shouldn’t be overlooked. As I mentioned, it is a unique game making a spot for itself in the monster hunting field. This is an excellent choice for gamers who have played Monster Hunter and a great alternative for gamers looking for something different. Embrace the ways of the Karakuri and follow your heart, and happy hunting~!