This review contains spoilers
There's some neat stuff in TWC. There's legitimately lovely artwork, the surrealism of it all is quite lovely, it well establishes a weird world and some likeable characters very well in it's short runtime, and the story is, whilst kinda wishy-washy, engaging enough to carry it through it's 50-minutes or so of stuff to do.
But it's also hamstrung from some very weak structure and seeming to straight up borrow tropes of the RPGmaker adventure/thing genre without really putting much thought into it, and i sadly feel it fails as a result.
The main elephant in the room is the puzzles. They're blatantly terrible and add basically nothing to the game. Obviously in a game this short there's not many of them, but they just add nothing to the story and generally feel like a bit of a weak way of the characters making progression. There's a few story tidbits within them but I do feel it takes away from the story for the dumb puzzles to be the progression for the most part rather than some growth or progression within the characters.
The RPGmaker presentation also feels a bit underthought. For what's otherwise a very engrossing world the menus and text boxes in particular are great at pulling you right out of it, and I'm not convinced a top down perspective with Pixel-art characters was the best way of doing it. It clashes with the lovely art pieces quite hard and just kinda makes me wish the game was a point and click or something in that vein where I could really fall into it all. Because when the art is on screen, its legitimately very pretty and surreal in just the right way.
There's also the pointless inclusion of a secret ending by doing some random stuff that isnt really signposted because idk, it's a trope of the genre. The secret ending is pretty important and I feel the whole thing could have been better incorporated into one more satisfying concluison but whatever.
Even with all those issues, it would probably be pretty good. It's short, cute, kinda interesting and the two core characters are great. BUT THEN.
So at the end of the secret ending, the developer has a literal signpost which explains the plot and what the game was about. I hate it with every fiber of my being and I have no idea why it's there other than to maybe highlight that it's a personal tale, but that does nothing compared to how condescending it is and how much it shatters the suspsension of disbelieft the rest of the game has been pretty great at.
The game is pretty abstract but it's also definetly piece-able together without this shit. It's watching an artsty movie and then finding the movie theatre goes immedietly onto a watchmojo "ANNIHILATION ENDING EXPLAINED" youtube video. Fuck off. It's a terrible inclusion and feels like something that should have been entirely culled in playtesting.
It's still a neat little experience. The art in particular is lovely and there's a emotional core to it that is well captured. But it does leave a bitter taste in my mouth somewhat, especially as I despise it's final moments. Probably worth playing with being only about an hour long, but it could have been much more.
Reviewed on Sep 18, 2021