With the festive period often proving to be a dry patch for new releases, it was a pleasant surprise for us to stumble upon this gorgeous nature-inspired puzzler at the backend of 2019. Weakless follows the adventures of two Weavelings, tree-like creatures at one with nature called Blind and Deaf. During their adventure, the pair form an inseparable bond due to their shared sensory impairments. The roughly four-hour adventure sees the pair venture through a luscious green world teeming with wildlife in order to protect a tree that is in danger of being destroyed.
What sets Weakless apart from other puzzlers is how you need to switch between the two characters to toggle between their abilities and different perspectives of the world. Blind's surroundings are completely in black and white but the sounds such as footsteps and gushing waterfalls are greatly enhanced. Blind can also push heavier objects such as boulders and can use his staff to hit musical gongs that can affect the environment. Deaf, on the other hand, can view the world in all of its luscious glory but sound effects are muffled. The glowing orb on Deaf's head can be used to open up flowers and his smaller size means that he can climb up ledges to reach higher up areas.
We particularly enjoyed the puzzles that pushed the two characters to work as a team and underscored their dependence upon one another. In one of the later puzzles, for example, we had to use Blind's staff to raise barriers and protect Deaf from blinding flashing beams of light as he attempted to scale a ledge with a large drop beneath it. This was where the game shone brightest but admittedly many of the puzzles felt simplistic with the solution sometimes being as obvious as having to push a box into the right place. It also hurt the challenge too that obstacles showed us what character we needed to interact with.
Something else we appreciated about Weakless was how it showed how its characters shared appreciation of art that tied in with its central theme of nature. When scaling the world Blind will, for example, stumble upon instruments that he will pause and play and Deaf will pull out his sketch pad to draw the beautiful scenery and views that surround him. These touching moments serve as checkpoints within the game and all instruments you have interacted with and paintings you have drawn can be viewed from the main menu.
With two playable characters being at the heart of Weakless, it's perplexing why the developers didn't decide to implement any multiplayer functionality. Playing with a friend would certainly speed things up as your AI buddy often stands around aimlessly waiting for you to once again regain control over them. Perhaps this was because switching between the characters really emphasises their difference in perspective, but we're sure there could have been some workaround. Another disappointment for us was how short Weakless felt, with the experience lasting around three or four hours. We were waiting for the difficulty to ramp up or for some fresh new mechanics to be introduced but instead, things just ended abruptly.
Long loading screens and technical hiccups also plagued our experience and detracted from what is otherwise a stunning game. The frame rate would slow down to a crawl during set-piece moments and for some strange reason, our characters would hover over ledges and occasionally get caught on the environment. We remember having to reset our save file when playing as Blind as we found ourselves caught on the environment, and due to his limited vision, it was unclear how we could break free. These issues weren't completely game-breaking but it was surprising how frequently they appeared over the course of Weakless' fleeting run time.
Weakless is great in short flourishes but it simply doesn't provide enough innovation or substance to make it a clear recommendation from us. Its puzzles are often simplistic, it's troubled by frequent technical woes, and it can be breezed through in a mere afternoon. That said, we really did enjoy the connection between both the central characters and how they supported each other with their own differing perspectives on the world. Ultimately, it offers a solid foundation that sadly never realises its full potential.
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