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Waking Review – Meditation and Gaming Collide

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BY July 3, 2020
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When I heard about Waking, I assumed there would be some flaws. Nevertheless, I liked the idea of something that aims to use the video game medium in a new and unique way. The practice of meditation is something near and dear to me, as are games. So, how do the two translate into a visceral experience for the modern age? Not terribly well; that said, there are some good things here. Let’s take some time to walk through a Waking review to talk about the shortcomings.

Waking’s World and Premise

glasshouse-game-tinybuild Image Credit: tinyBuild

The idea of Waking is that you start in a hospital bed. Seemingly near death, you begin traversing your memories in a dream-like world. This process hopefully means you’ll find the strength to wake up. Unfortunately, an early guide to this world happens to be Somnus, the God of Sleep. You answer questions about your personal life, which ranges from your desires and vices to info about dead pets, to experience a more personal journey. The only element that really connected with me was the dead pet section, which was pretty beautifully crafted. Otherwise, the information you provide to the game doesn’t feel too influential to the overall experience.

waking review Image Credit: tinyBuild

Luckily, Somnus’ attempts to get you to give up life aren’t the only path. You’re met with an alternative that could lead you to wake once again. As you traverse this world, enemies come up that you attack with a variety of emotions. These attacks cost neurons that you can only carry 200 at a time, which runs out fast. Combat is not refined, and the less than impressive graphics make the experience feel very dated. With just months until a new console generation, the game looks closer to the previous era than the future, let alone the present. The intended artistic experience, from the color scheme and character design, is something I really liked. Unfortunately, the ways in which you engage these NPCs and environments are limited and flawed.

Waking Review Score

waking review Image Credit: tinyBuild

I review games on a scale of 1-10; Waking hovers between a 4 and 5 to me. While I love the inventiveness, it misses its mark. Overall, the things I enjoy about the game are conceptual, not actualized in the experience of gameplay. If you don’t mind the messiness and want to try something unique, then give it a go. Overall, it’s not something I hated or struggled to see through to the end. The idea of the game and what it offers are completely different. With more refined combat and increased influence on the game from player choices, this could be a better game.

waking review Image Credit: tinyBuild

In short, what redeems the experience a bit for me is the spirit behind the game. Overall, there are emotional moments here to be had. Given developer Jason Oda’s own near-death experience, heart and soul went into this title. It just doesn’t quite make it good.

Waking is available for Xbox One and PC via Steam. A digital review copy of the game was provided by the developer for the purposes of this review.

If you have thoughts on this Waking review, then let us know in the comments! Thanks for reading Comic Years for all things gaming, comics, and pop culture.

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Taylor loves to play video games in his spare time. He has two degrees in Political Communication and wrote his thesis on Marxism and the exploitation of college athletes. In his spare time, he loves spending time with his wife and two Toy Australian Shepherds. He’s always got headphones in, and he’s a diehard Cubs fan.

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