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What The Critics Are Saying About Balan Wonderworld

Balan Wonderworld, the much hyped game from the creators behind Sega's Nights into Dreams and Sonic Adventure, had so much going for it. Even though Balan Wonderworld features colorful landscapes, cooperative gameplay, a free demo, and over 80 costumes to try, some fans felt hesitant to pass judgement. Many decided to wait for official word from critics before making a decision on whether to buy Balan Wonderworld or not.

Then, something strange happened. As fans and writers alike refreshed their browsers in hopes of finding Balan Wonderworld reviews, nothing appeared. On release day, there was barely any word of the new title. Tom Marks at IGN cleared things up with a decisive tweet, saying, "Heads up that Balan Wonderworld codes were not sent ahead of launch, so our review won't be ready until next week. Here are my in-progress thoughts after playing roughly two hours: it sucks." Marks elaborated on his statement by tweeting, "playing the actual game is not really fun." 

Marks' feelings seem mutual across the internet, and several critics have noted that while Balan Wonderworld might look like a dream, it plays like a nightmare.

Balan Wonderworld's dated design holds it back

Mostly, critics seem confused about how Balan Wonderworld made it to market without any sort of oversight. Andrew Farrell from PC Invasion called Balan Wonderworld a "dated game built out of questionable design choices that make me wonder why no one stepped in with advice before it was too late." Farrell went on to criticize the game's plot, which follows two young children as they help the mysterious Balan in aiding lost souls: those who were traumatized by something and became shadows of themselves.

Farrell said that the reasoning behind each trauma makes little sense. For example, one level is all about a clown who wants to ask a girl out. As for gameplay, Farrell called boss fights "insultingly easy." Even though Balan Wonderworld utilizes intentionally simple controls, that shouldn't mean gameplay has to be dumbed down as well.

Chris Scullion of VGC also attributed many of Balan Wonderworld's flaws to its dated design. He stated that Balan Wonderworld "could easily be mistaken for a PS2 game remastered in 4K." Though Scullion noted that "younger players or fans of retro games might even enjoy it a lot," he mostly decided that it wouldn't be winning any awards or making any top 10 lists for 2021.