Balan Wonderworld has been front and center on my Must Play Games in 2021 list. That initial announcement trailer from Square Enix just five months back sold me instantly with its vibrant aesthetic and kawaii as hell art direction. A demo of Balan Wonderworld is out tomorrow on the PlayStation Store, giving players a chance to see first hand if this game is a day one purchase or not. We were given an opportunity to play with the demo a little early and share our (my) thoughts with PSLS readers.
Balan Wonderworld – Dress for the Job You Need
A huge part of Balan Wonderworld‘s appeal lies in its costume system. Each costume grants the player different abilities needed to clear an Act. Costumes are spread throughout each chapter and act; they’re shiny pink diamonds with an image of each locked within. They will need to be unlocked with keys, often found very close to the costumes themselves. While playing with Emma, I noticed she can only hold three costumes at once with the rightmost one being “pushed out” when I pick up a fourth. You can hold duplicates or even triplicates of a costume if you so desire. It is better to keep some variety. You may require a combination of skills to reach tucked away areas for Balan statues or Tim eggs.
When you locate a checkpoint pad within an act you can pull up a dressing room. Here you will find all of the costumes you have unlocked across all chapters. If there’s a costume available from Chapter 4 that you think might help you nab that last statue in another act, add it to your starting line-up. My favorite outfits from the first chapter are the Pounding Pig and Elastiplant. Both are super kawaii. The Dainty Dragon is another cutie but unfortunately you can’t do a basic jump in that costume. That might just be my lone gripe with the costume system. You should be able to do a basic jump no matter what you are wearing.
Based on the demo, it appears there will be occasions in which players will need to do some backtracking in order to locate all of the statues within an Act. I’ve already spotted at least one in Chapter One that I could not seem to reach with any of the five costumes I had access to. Let’s be honest, most of us are going to be striving for the platinum here.
Balan Wonderworld – Tiny Tims
In between the platforming sections of the game you will be able to spend some time with those little fluffballs, the Tims. There are a few activities on the Isle of Tims in the demo that you can check out. Standing in patches of flowers that match drops you’ve collected allows you to feed them. And watching them “eat” is just too adorable. Tims can change color based on their diets. Having a variety of Tims is super handy. Some will search out items while you’re exploring an act, others may pitch in and help you clear out some baddies.
I spotted two interactable points of interest on the Isle of Tims. The first is a sort of hamster wheel set up with a counter located in the center of the isle. You can toss Tims into the wheel, or lead them close enough where they seem to jump in on their own. Sub-objectives pop up in the bottom left corner of the screen (as seen above). Every time you meet an objective, a new section of the Tower o’ Tims materializes. The second point of interest is the large Tim statue with rainbow flowers at its feet. Bring it the rainbow drops obtained when you replay acts and watch the bar fill up.
Tucked away in each act are Tim eggs. When you return to the isle at the end of each level you’ll see the bitty things waiting for you. As soon as I brought Emma closer, my eggs started shake and crack until a little white fluffer emerged and I just wanted to give it all the cuddles. I’m totally expecting to see a spectrum of Tims land on the Square Enix store within a month or so of release and I may just buy one of each.
Balan Wonderworld – All Aboard!
The small taste of Balan Wonderworld that Square Enix gives us with this demo leaves me salivating for more. They’ve given us just the right appetizers without spoiling us at all on the main course. Leo and Emma’s backgrounds stories have not been revealed, with the introduction video alluding to some sort of tragedy bringing our heroes to Balan’s doorstep. I am also intrigued to discover how (or if) the Balan’s Bout visual quick time event ties into game beyond the bonus to your total drops. And is there more to the Balan statues or are they purely collectible for trophies?
We’ll know a lot more in just a couple of months when the full experience comes to PS5 and PS4. In the meantime, the demo is available on the PSN as of tomorrow. Take it for a spin and let us know what you think.
Balan Wonderworld PS5 early demo code provided by publisher. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.