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Willy’s Wonderland – The Game review – An awful film tie-in

Home » Reviews » Willy’s Wonderland – The Game review – An awful film tie-in

Released in 2021, Willy’s Wonderland starring Nicolas Cage is an entertaining action-horror film that clearly takes inspiration from the Five Nights at Freddy’s videogame series. It seems a strange choice, then, when making a videogame based on Willy’s Wonderland, for it to be a 2.5D side-scrolling beat ’em up.

It wouldn’t be much of an issue if Willy’s Wonderland – The Game actually proved to be a worthwhile entry in the genre that’s currently going through somewhat of a renaissance. But that appears to be too much to ask for: unfortunately it’s not very good. In fact, it’s been a while since we’ve played a game that’s disappointed us so much.

Willy’s Wonderland – The Game opens with an animated sequence that basically mirrors the film, Nicolas Cage et al. From thereon, though, things go downhill, with you realising the gameplay is a dud within minutes, perhaps even seconds, of you going hands-on with either of the game’s playable characters.

Willy's Wonderland The Game review body 1
Image: QUByte Interactive/Mito Games

Whether you choose to play as The Janitor or Liv, they both pretty much play the same – though stereotypically Liv hits a little weaker but moves faster. Either character can punch, kick, block, jump, perform lunging or spinning attacks that both have cooldowns, and make use of a trio of buffs that each use an amount of your ‘Fun’ meter.

Related: Games like Streets of Rage on PS5

The trouble is, you won’t have much fun playing Willy’s Wonderland – The Game at all. Making your way through its seven small stages, all you’re likely to experience is boredom, repetition and frustration. The visuals are utterly drab, and maybe that alone would be forgivable if the gameplay was up to scratch, but that’s unfortunately not the case.

For a start, the controls are incredibly clunky. Unlike in Streets of Rage 4 where moving your character around feels fluid and responsive and there’s a meaningful pace to the action, here you feel somewhat disconnected from your chosen character. Simply lining up to hit an enemy can be a frustrating affair, which is a big red flag in a game like this. Also, those buffs we mentioned: the benefits they provide are so brief or inconsequential that they may as well not exist.

Willy's Wonderland The Game review body 2
Image: QUByte Interactive/Mito Games

As you progress, you’ll realise that the game just doesn’t have much more to offer than what you’ve experienced in the first stage, aside from throwing more of the same-looking enemies at you. Actually, that’s not strictly true: it does introduce a handful of new enemies, like a maddening hacker that constantly teleports around the screen, puts up a shield and operates a drone that shoots you every few seconds or so. They’re not poorly balanced or irritating at all. Hopefully you can detect the sarcasm.

We can’t even say that Willy’s Wonderland – The Game is saved by its boss fights, as they’re dire as well. Overall, there’s very little, if anything, we can say positive about the game, other than it’s cheap. You can pick up much better games in the genre at a similar price during sales on nearly all formats, however.

If you’re a fan of the film or side-scrolling beat ’em ups, then, and you find yourself drawn to Willy’s Wonderland – The Game, you won’t break the bank by picking it up, but you really shouldn’t. It’s an awful, awful game, with zero redeeming qualities other than its budget price. Willy’s Wonderland, and Nicolas Cage, deserved better.

This review of Willy’s Wonderland – The Game is based on the PS5 version, with a code provided by the game’s publisher. It’s available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch and PC.

Willy's Wonderland - The Game review - GameSpew's score

Willy's Wonderland - The Game
2 10 0 1
Willy's Wonderland - The Game is a strange film tie-in, turning what is essentially an entertaining action-horror into a 2.5D side-scrolling beat 'em up. The trouble is, it's criminally dull and a chore to play, so you really shouldn't pick it up despite its bargain price.
Willy's Wonderland - The Game is a strange film tie-in, turning what is essentially an entertaining action-horror into a 2.5D side-scrolling beat 'em up. The trouble is, it's criminally dull and a chore to play, so you really shouldn't pick it up despite its bargain price.
2/10
Total Score

We like...

  • It's cheap

We don't like...

  • Pretty much everything about it

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