Willy's wonderland logo with blood splatter in the middle and two animatronics on either side.
Image: Steam, QUByte Interactive, Mito Games

Willy’s (Woeful) Wonderland

As I found myself drained after an unexpected heatwave and bored out of my mind, I decided to watch Willy’s Wonderland. While it’s unarguably a blatant Five Nights at Freddy’s rip-off, it was still enjoyable with its odd humour and lack of main character speech. So now that I curbed the boredom for almost two hours, I decided to give the game version a go. After all, how bad could it be?

Well to sum it up quickly, it’s a game – that’s for sure. You press buttons and they do stuff. To give it some credit, Willy’s Wonderland is simple as it’s a 2.5D beat ’em-up game. To begin, you can choose your avatar; however, both of your options have the same abilities and moves. Already, this could be something improved upon as giving the avatars different abilities would increase the likelihood of a player wanting to go back and replay. In addition, since the game is based on the movie, or at least one thinks so from the title, surely there could have been a Nicholas Cage cameo?

Speaking of the ties to the movie, this game seems to have next to none. Sure, the premise remains the same in that you need to work your way through and survive, but there were a lot of elements that felt randomly thrown in for the sake of it. Frankly, it reminded me of the time I discovered PowerPoint transitions in Year 7 and decided to use every single one in a history presentation.

When looking at the enemies, we have the same ones from the movie: the animatronics. Just like the film, you have to defeat them in order to progress, but they end up reappearing later on in weakened form. This confused me, making me feel as though I had made no progress. For me, a satisfying part of video games is when a boss is defeated and stays that way. Having them reappear rids the player of a sense of accomplishment. The other enemies stray from the movie completely as there are random drones, zombies, and ninjas.

As I attempt to find redeeming qualities, the game seems determined to undo them for no reason at all

The game is not that difficult to play, and enemies tend to be easy to eradicate. Of course, this only applies once you’ve explored the control list which shows you hidden power-ups that are otherwise unexplained. That being said, the most annoying aspect is that the enemies spawn out of nowhere, and if you’re anything like me and want to speed-run the game, this means they get the drop on you. While this doesn’t kill you, it sure is annoying. Most of the attacks could be blocked, but some enemies just kept on attacking, making them oddly powerful in comparison.

In terms of setting, the rooms (or levels) do resemble the movie. They have a cohesive theme that redeems Willy’s Wonderland in a way. The game’s graphics also lean into the cheesy nature of the movie, resembling the poor-quality and creepy-looking animatronics with their low-effort feel. I also think the game does well by having no dialogue for the player’s character. This mirrors Nicholas Cage’s performance in the movie where he, the main character, also has no dialogue. However, for some bizarre reason, during the final boss fight the player character suddenly speaks in a deep voice: “Mmm come on!”

And with that, my review comes to an end. As I attempt to find redeeming qualities, the game seems determined to undo them for no reason at all. If we strip it away its title and look at it purely for its game mechanics, it is an okay game. But because the title rightly leads players to associate it with the movie, it falls extremely short.


Disclaimer: A code for Willy’s Wonderland on the Nintendo Switch was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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