Wailing Heights has the strangest premise of any game I’ve seen on Steam Greenlight in quite some time, and that’s saying something.
OK so, let me try to explain it: Wailing Heights is a game about the deceased manager of a deceased band, The Deadbeats (“bigger than the Beatles, the Monkees and the Addams Family combined”), stumbling into a town full of vegan werewolves, hipster vampires, and Motown zombies. As a Newly Ghostified American whose body is stuck in a prison cell, he’s good for pretty much only one thing: possessing other people. Or un-people. I’m not really sure what they consider themselves.
It looks like this:
And it works like this:
“With Finklestein’s body trapped in a holding cell, the only hope of escape is mastering your newly acquired Possession Wheel. Find a resident’s NAME, an item they LOVE, something they HATE, to turn them into body-hopping lyrics that will give you access to their supernatural skills and abilities. Fly to The Cremetary Coffee shop (vampires only!) as a bat, sniff out a trail from the Ruff House Vegan Bar as a werewolf, eavesdrop as an invisible ghost, and the Motown Zombies… well, zombies can’t do very much. Can they?”
“Take care of the inter-species feuds as you find new locations and encounter modern takes on classic monsters. Hipster vampires don’t much like vegan werewolves (or just about anybody, really), the werefolk won’t trust a ghost they can’t smell, and absolutely no one can understand a zombie. In the style of classic adventure games, you will need to talk to the locals, choosing just the right thing to say (and who to be), collect items as you explore the town, listen to musical clues, and like all great songwriters; steal things from other songs.”
OH SHIT. An elegant confluence of thematic and mechanical elements? Summed up with an ages-old piece of colloquial wisdom? Fuck me. This game is playing dirty. And by that I mean infusing its Steam Greenlight description with love and craft. Also a bit of Lovecraft.
The timing of this one is also a bit eerie. Yeah, it went up on Greenlight recently, but clearly it’s been in development for quite some time. Whether opportunistic, reverent, or simply coincidental, this is a game about dead/undead rockers that’s clawed its way up to the surface shortly after the heartbreaking passings of David Bowie and Lemmy Kilmister. People are, obviously, still grieving both of their losses.
Wailing Heights, though, seems like it’s own beast — and one with serious heart, at that. It’s cool to see such an original-looking game about music during these exceedingly grim times. I have no idea if its creators were trying to take advantage of Recent Events by debuting their Greenlight campaign about such absurdly specific subject matter now (I’m leaning toward no, especially given the era(s) of music the game is actually about), but I could imagine far worse things than discovering a game like this as a result. I don’t think that would make it right, but it’s something.
Wailing Heights is set to release early in 2016, so it should be out within the next couple months.
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