HIGH A brilliant concept and a charming aesthetic.
LOW Not much in the way of “traditional” puzzles.
WTF Not sure how to feel about organizing things as entertainment
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not well-organized. Any space — digital or physical — that I have control of for long enough will eventually devolve into a messy arrangement of various piles, building up until I can’t stand it anymore and begrudgingly use precious time and energy cleaning up.
Frankly speaking, cleaning is an activity I loathe, which is why I was surprised that I enjoyed Wilmot’s Warehouse as much as I did. I never realized that I could ever enjoy cleaning up and setting things in order this much.
Wilmot’s Warehouse is a bite-sized puzzler that, unlike typical puzzle games, derives its challenge from one’s own scatterbrained habits. Players take the form of “Wilmot”, a cheery little block, who is in charge of the titular warehouse.
At the start of a round, a truck delivers a number of products, each being a block with a picture on it. Players, as Wilmot, are given three minutes or so to organize the pile however they wish, usually by sorting blocks into like piles and grouping them around the warehouse.
When time’s up, a window at the top of the screen opens with customers demanding items in various combinations. The quicker players can retrieve the items from wherever they were placed and bring them to the front, the more stars they can earn. Those stars are then used to buy improvements to the warehouse, like demolishing obstacles and opening up space, or buying upgrades for Wilmot such as increasing the number of objects it can carry or adding a quick dash for covering distances.
Traditional puzzle games tend to have a learning curve thanks to arcane rules and arbitrary abstractions, but Wilmot’s Warehouse is instantly comprehensible to anyone because everyone, at one point or another, has had to organize and tidy up their space. As such, the challenge in Wilmot’s arises not from complexity of the mechanics, but from the player’s own ability to keep a growing number of items in some semblance of order.
Every round brings more items to arrange, and every stage increases the total number of products up to a maximum of two hundred — far more than a typical person can keep track of without some kind of organizational scheme in mind. Every so often, a “stock take” gives players unlimited time to rearrange the warehouse and allows for a much-needed break to regroup items into a more efficient setup.
Enjoyable complications are added by the products themselves, which can range from a picture of an apple to an abstract symbol or pattern. This diversity prevents players from simply organizing everything like a real-life warehouse or grocery store. Before long a player’s mental map of the warehouse might include categories like “Blue” or “Looks Like A Face”.
On the meta level, it’s great to share a picture of one’s warehouse with the categories labeled and compare it with another player’s to see what strange and inventive combinations of qualities everyone came up with, and how they’re similar or different.
Pleasant music and an appealing, minimalist art style keep Wilmot’s Warehouse from becoming too stressful, and well-organized players after a tougher challenge can try the optional “expert” mode which adds modifiers to ramp up the pressure.
Two players can also cooperate to sort things out. However, this tended to make things a little more hectic for me, as it necessitated getting someone to agree to my own harebrained ideas for putting which objects in what places. That said, it remained a fairly chill experience overall.
In the end, Wilmot’s Warehouse is a brilliant little puzzler that derives unique pleasure from performing an utterly mundane chore. Anyone looking to kill some time or perhaps give themselves hope that they, too, will one day tackle the growing piles of stuff in their space should check it out.
Disclosures: This game is developed by The Hollow Ponds and published by Finji. It is currently available on PC and Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Switch. Approximately 12 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode. The multiplayer was tested. The game was completed.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E with no descriptors. More detailed information or an official blurb were unavailable at the time of publication, but the content features no violence, and almost all characters and onscreen objects are rendered as abstract blocks.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: All dialogue is reflected in text and visual interface elements. There are no audio cues needed for gameplay. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: This game’s button controls are not remappable. Movement is controlled via the analog stick, with interactions and abilities triggered by the face and shoulder buttons.