Review – Wailing Heights

What happens when vegan wolves meet hipster vampires and modern day pop culture references? Well, you get Wailing Heights. Developed and published by Outsider Games, Wailing Heights is a PC game that’s made itself over onto the PS4 and Xbox One.

In Wailing Heights you play as Finklestein, the former manager of a Beatles-like band called “The Deadbeats.” When you end up in the afterlife you meet the lawyer Soul Ghoulman who is tasked with defending you in the monster court of law in order to get you back home. As a living human you don’t quite belong. Using a bit of magic, you as Finklestein can possess Soul Ghoulman, and from there ultimately need to reunite the now dead members of your band on a musical adventure… It’s a long story that’s a bit simpler when you play the game. I don’t want to spoil anything here.

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Ultimately, gameplay consists of moving around the small hub world of Wailing Heights, with several locations of interest like the Ruff House (the werewolf pub), the Cremetary (where hipster vampires hang out), and a couple other places. The world isn’t very large, but it’s beautifully rendered in an art style meant to look hand drawn. Visually speaking, the game is gorgeous and the few locations are interesting to look at, but the character animations are stiff, and when they walk away from or towards the camera the walk is as if from side to side. They simply don’t have frontal animations whatsoever. It looks funny and is a visual problem that could have been fixed with just a couple extra animations per character.

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Most of the actual gameplay consists of walking up to different monstrous characters and cycling through different questions or comments to ask all while trying to find the components necessary to possess someone. In order to control them, you need to know their name, something they love, and something they hate. That’s pretty much it. The gameplay is essentially just a series of conversations and fetch quests. Quests became more tedious due to the fact that you need to switch between different characters frequently in order to get specific results. For example, werewolves hate ghosts because they can’t smell them, so if you want a productive conversation with a werewolf you usually need to play as one of the vampires. Now, this is actually a cool mechanic, except for the fact that in order to possess or repossess a character you need to be close to them. Suffice to say, a lot of the movement in the game consists of going back and forth to where you left certain characters in order to eventually possess them. It gets exhausting after a while and the characters all only move so fast. The only reason this doesn’t completely ruin the game is because, as mentioned before, the world is only so big.

Being a very musical game, it would have been pretty unfortunate if Wailing Heights had a terrible soundtrack. Thankfully, the music is absolutely fantastic. The jingles that play when you take control of a character and the background music for each location are all fun to listen to. I found myself singing some of the songs for fun even when I wasn’t playing the game. Sadly, the voice acting isn’t quite on par with the music. Most of the dialogue is pretty mediocre at best, with certain lines being downright bad. Overall, the sound design is a mixed bag. Phenomenal music, okay voice work.

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At its core, Wailing Heights is a slightly grown up version of those old computer games like Pajama Sam or Spy Fox. You run around grabbing items to complete objectives until you’ve completed them all. It’s just short enough to keep your attention up to its completion. When you’re done with it, you’re done. Unless you REALLY like the music, you won’t be playing it again. The concept is cool, without a doubt: hipster vampires complaining about how the barista gave them the wrong blood type hemolatte is kind of amusing at first. But chances are, when you leave Wailing Heights, you won’t want to come back.


Graphics: 8.0

The world of Wailing Heights is beautifully designed to look hand drawn, but weird character animations drag it down a bit.

Gameplay: 5.0

As a pseudo-visual novel, there’s not much to the gameplay.

Sound: 7.5

The music is absolutely fantastic, but the voice work is passable at best.

Fun Factor: 4.5

Wailing Heights is just barely fun enough for a playthrough if you like this kind of game, but endless conversations and fetch quests get dull after a while.

Final Verdict: 6.0

Reviewed on PC.
Wailing Heights is available now on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
A copy of Wailing Heights was provided by the publisher.