Wattam, by game company Funomena, is a little hard to describe. It’s the newest project by Keita Takahashi, the creator of the quirky and beloved Katamari Damacy series. Wattam takes place on a dreamy, floating island, and players control various inanimate objects. Each object can do a few simple actions—lawn mowers can mow, clouds can rain, etc. The more you act upon your environment, the more objects appear around you that you can take control of. You can then make characters hold hands or leap onto one another and wobble around.
Some of the actions in the game are pretty silly, and the entire thing has a lovely irreverence about it that is very reminiscent of Katamari Damacy. After you’ve collected a group of friends in the game, you explode into the sky, and more people from outer space are attracted to your little floating island. The game grows very organically, giving you space to explore and mess around.
“It’s all about bringing friends together,” said Ryan Mohler, an animator working on the game. While there isn’t too much direction for the players to follow, the entire thing has a strange and pleasant addictiveness that compels you to continue collecting friends. Even if one of the friends is literal poop.
The game is being developed by a four-person team out of San Francisco, and they say they’re at least a year away from launch. But what they have now is extremely promising.
“Keita will come up behind me and say, ‘What if sushi had a jet pack?’ And I say ‘OK!'” Ted Aronson, programmer on the game, explained, “Fifteen minutes later we have a prototype. So much of it is just little shards of our weirdness.”
That off-the-cuff design style brings wonderful levity to a story that is, at its heart, about loneliness after the end of the world. Yep, that’s the opener of the game—the world explodes. The floating island? It’s one of the remaining chunks of the earth. Surprise!
But Wattam achieves an elegant balance of light and dark that makes me want to keep coming back. I’m excited to play this game at home with my friends, even if I have to wait a while. After all, that’s what it’s all about: holding hands.