The cheerful story has a shockingly grim side.
Balan Wonderworld is a new 3D platformer by legendary game designer Yuji Naka.
The game has been widely panned by critics and players alike for its mediocre gameplay. But others are charmed by the game’s vibrant world and characters.
But the novelization reveals a dark side beneath the game’s cheerful aesthetic. Turns out, every character has a deeply traumatic backstory that’s drawn them to the Wonderworld.
Here are 4 of the darkest character stories in Balan Wonderworld’s novel.
The Seagazer used to be a diver who loved the ocean. She had a particular fondness for dolphins and she considered them her friends.
That is, until one knocks out her oxygen tank, nearly causing her to drown. Her newfound fear of dolphins makes her retreat to the Wonderworld.
The Checkered King is a renowned chess player, whose skill starts to decline with age. He starts devoting all of his attention to chess after he’s beaten by a teenager.
The game doesn’t explain that his obsession with chess distracted him from the fact that his wife was dying from a worsening illness. He is driven to the Wonderworld by grief after she dies.
The Watcher of the Woods is a nature enthusiast who has dedicated her life to studying a species of migratory storks.
After a construction crew tears down a forest, she finds smashed bird eggs in the aftermath. The mourning parents refuse to leave their babies’ side.
The Watcher pleads with them to migrate for the winter as they normally would. Later, she finds them both dead in the snow.
Darkest of all, Clocktower Kid is a 10-year old girl who befriends an adorable stray cat. One day, she sees it across the sidewalk and calls it over.
It gets hit by a car and dies as a result.
Balan Wonderworld joins a pantheon of classic fairy tales that look cheery on the outside, but have a genuinely dark underbelly.
Make sure to check out our impressions of Balan Wonderworld.