Helplessness in a video game does not make much for good gameplay, but it does keep the experience alive and moving. In Wick, players are in a very spooky locale with lots of collectibles to collects, candles to keep alight, and lots of creepy things moving in to hunt you down. At first glance, the game looks very much like a typical Slenderman clone (which at its core, it is), but the game manages to increase the amount of things you can actually do (as a well as a much deeper and content-oriented narrative). And this, in turn, makes for a much more intriguing gameplay experience.
Lights Mark the Way
The basic idea of this game is to use the matches you have at the start as a light source. Soon enough, you will find candles which obviously last much longer than a match would. Being a game of course, the wax melts faster than they do in reality and pretty soon, the fire in the wick will burn out -which means that you will want to be constantly on the lookout for new candles as you explore the game. As you progress, you will also come across other light sources such as small campfires, flash lights, and even vehicle headlights -but for the most part, you will want to move from one candle to the next. Run out of light and the monsters will come and get you.
The light source mechanic does more than keep your character alive, it also keeps the story moving along. The ambiguous stage design fails to present to players any specific paths or routes they should follow, so without any prodding, being able to find noteworthy locations and collectibles would be a very random affair. This is why a lot of the candles are placed in important or noteworthy locations -as each new site you visit will provide additional details that will help you piece together the patchwork narrative of the game. Obviously, not all candles are placed in key spots -some are just there to provide you with extra light until you get to next major location.
Baddies from Beyond
No horror game is complete without its share of monsters, and in Wick, players have to contend with some pretty unique ones. There is an unmistakable hint of Tim Burton inspired stylings to the creations of the child-monsters, especially with their exaggerated proportions and stitched up bodies. All of them would look perfect at home in Nightmare Before Christmas. In many ways, this design aesthetic does take a little bit of an edge off the horror dose, you end up treating these malevolent dead tykes more as dangerous instead of scary. Thankfully, the one-sided hunt you find yourself in is more than enough tension for the entirety of the game.
As you unlock more details about the story, the decision to make the monsters seem more cartoony than lifelike becomes more logical and deliberate -each of the collectibles you unlock help put together a bigger view of the game's foundations and of the tragic past that happened before the start of the game.
Game-wise, each new type of monster will move, act, and behave quite differently from the others, so simply relying on your light source to keep you alive is not always the best strategy. It pays off to take the time to get to know each one -from the quick footed small ones, to the more powerful and lumbering big ones. You will need to combine hiding, using lights, and of course, good old fashioned running away as fast as possible in order to survive enemy encounters -and this game will have plenty of that.
Not To Spoil Anything But…
One of the things we love most about this game is the background lore. We will not go into detail about the final important details (like with regards to the bus crash and all that), but the basic premise that leads up to the player character being put into the forest is pretty well done.
According to the story, there was once a family that lived in the woods -the Weavers. They had five children, Tim, Tom, Lilian, Caleb, and Benjamin. One night, the house burned down but the five children's bodies were never found. Since the local townspeople believed in the possibility that the children may still be alive and lost in the woods, they started leaving candles for the kids. Over time, rumors started that some of the candles would move on their own and that people who ventured into the forest would disappear. Eventually, it turned into folklore and the game of "Wick" became a thing.
By combining interesting narrative, engaging gameplay, and great visuals, Wick manages to be a pretty good game at getting players spooked for a good while. It does not matter if you liked Slender Man or not -Wick simply manages to be completely better than the other games in the genre.