Metascore
51

Mixed or average reviews - based on 29 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 29
  2. Negative: 9 out of 29
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  1. Mar 27, 2021
    82
    If you have a soft spot for classic 3D platformers and imaginative game worlds, you'll have a lovely time with Balan Wonderworld. With a heartfelt story, plenty of cuteness, a clever costume system, and oodles of stages to master; it's one incredible adventure.
  2. PLAY
    May 4, 2021
    70
    While not reaching its full potential, Balan Wonderworld is a grand and well designed adventure, which runs superbly on PS5. It’s perfect for family co-op play. [Issue#1, p.76]
  3. Mar 29, 2021
    70
    Balan Wonderworld has a strong artistic direction and an amazing soundtrack but also many limitations in terms of gameplay and graphics.
  4. Mar 30, 2021
    68
    Mixed feelings: graphics and sound offer a surreal and engaging experience, but gameplay wise, several camera hiccups and uneven level design may become frustrating. Balan is able to appeal to your inner child... If that child is a patient one.
  5. Apr 1, 2021
    65
    Balan Wonderworld is a great idea on paper, and it's perfectly playable from start to finish, but it's held back by some baffling design decisions and boring gameplay. The idea of a protagonist who swaps between costumes to collect Mario-style shines could be great, but the costumes are too simple, the environments are too boring, and the gameplay is too basic. It could possibly be a good game for extremely young players due to its low difficulty and cartoony graphics, but even then, I would recommend one of the many other offerings intended for that demographic instead.
  6. Jul 20, 2021
    60
    Balan Wonderworld deserved to be far more than average, as the final game is a marked improvement over the demo. It's beautiful a lot of the time, character designs are mostly wonderful, the unique ideas that appear in each level are great fun… however the overall execution is simply lacking something important. The repetitive bouts, rough edges, and the sometimes awful physics make this a much harder title to recommend. It is full of bubbly unique charm, and is mostly heart-warmingly fun, but many will be put off by the slow, restrictive design, despite this being designed around it. Hopefully, the game will get some traction.
  7. Apr 10, 2021
    60
    An interesting 3D-platformer with a very unique style and a few good ideas. But Balan feels outdated and shows some design flaws.
  8. Mar 31, 2021
    60
    Balan Wonderworld features a range of interesting ideas that are plagued by dated mechanics. Even after losing yourself in the absurd universe, you are quickly brought back to reality due to the rigid movement and odd control scheme that oppose expectations of the genre. Although the game has a lot of charm, it does little to stand out amongst the crowd and due to this, it can be rightfully overlooked.
  9. Mar 31, 2021
    60
    The finished state of Balan Wonderworld is disappointing to say the least. For all of its style, I was really interested to see how they would expand upon the preview. The aesthetic and characters are there, the music is captivating, the level design made me want to explore and experiment where I could, and the abilities mostly gave me options to do so. However, these things are held down by a lot of contrivances and outright holes in either functionality or context.
  10. Mar 31, 2021
    60
    Balan Wonderworld is a passable platformer marred by a string of increasingly baffling design decisions. It has charm by the bucketload and off-the-wall concepts that land well in spite of themselves, but the experience is inconsistent at best and frustrating at worst. There is a good game in here somewhere, and it is great fun at points, but waiting for those points isn’t really worth it.
  11. Mar 29, 2021
    60
    If you’re the patient sort, chances are you’ll have a good time with Balan Wonderworld overall. Costume management is clunky, but you’ll deal with it in order to find the secrets hidden within each world, and you won’t be too perturbed by the eagerly respawning enemies and repetitive Balan Bout sequences. For most players though, everything combined will probably prove to be a little too much. Balan Wonderworld is a game that’s capable of bringing out both delight and dismay in its players, though it serves up a little too much of the latter at times to be easily recommended.
  12. Apr 26, 2021
    55
    Balan Wonderworld offers a great story, accompanied by an absolutely wonderful soundtrack. That's about all it offers, though. In the end, mediocre graphics and rough gameplay make for a rather disappointing package.
  13. Apr 1, 2021
    55
    The nostalgic breath is felt, and it cannot be denied that some idea, if treated in a different way, could have easily given its fruits. Yet, the new effort of Naka and Oshima collapses under the weight of a shoddy, disoriented realization, mostly unable to pay homage to the old days without being unnecessarily cumbersome.
  14. Mar 31, 2021
    55
    Your enjoyment of Balan Wonderworld is going to depend on your tolerance for primitive 3D level design. Strip away the unnecessary costumes and their poorly implemented management system — and fire those Balan’s Bouts into the sun — and you might have a nice throwback to a more experimental time of platform gaming, one that would be easier to recommend. But sadly, you can’t just strip those elements away. They're here, and they’re ruining what is otherwise an enjoyable rewind to the golden era of the mascot platformer.
  15. Mar 30, 2021
    55
    Balan Wonderworld had good intentions, but it get two of its core mechanics wrong: its control and the suit system. It’s still enjoyable, although not as much as it could have been.
  16. Apr 8, 2021
    50
    In its best moments, Balan Wonderworld is indeed a wondrous experience, but it becomes hard to keep dreaming with its lack of depth and attention to playability.
  17. Apr 6, 2021
    50
    Balan Wonderworld feels like a game from another time. In a different era the rough edges, inconsistent mechanics, and formulaic design may have been things that players could overlook, but in this moment in time, it's a 3D platformer of a quality that can't compete with polished modern-day contemporaries from Nintendo, Sony, and the like. It has its merits and delivers an unexpectedly mentally stimulating platformer when it manages to play to its strengths, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
  18. 50
    Sometimes, Balan Wonderworld evokes a bygone era of platformers very well, but this is all too fleeting a feeling. All the creativity seems to have gone into the characters and music while the actual act of platforming leaves a lot to be desired. It’s far from the worst modern platformer, but given the names involved, it’s a thoroughly underwhelming one.
  19. Mar 29, 2021
    50
    Balan Wonderworld contains elements of what could have been a stellar platformer with its compelling ideas of advancement notions. However, its ineptitude with several gameplay design decisions makes it a constant struggle of unfun progression, questionable execution, and ultimately a heap of lost potential. Regardless of how much you desire to play it, I highly implore waiting for a sale because it is just not worth the full $60 price tag. Now, all I desire from the remnants of this failed title is a movie with its superb cutscene direction and animation. That is something I could get behind.
  20. Mar 27, 2021
    50
    Balan Wonderworld offers some good and colorful stories for the younger gamers, but there are too many technical problems and the gameplay is far too rigid and abstruse.
  21. 45
    Balan Wonderworld feels like it’s shrouded in mystery because there’s a woeful lack of explanation for the majority of its mechanics. Nobody should be left looking for external guides to gather even the most basic information for a game aimed at children. When added to the frustrating management of the game’s costumes (including those that can’t jump in a platformer), its underdeveloped story, the overly simplistic platforming, and the tortuous Balan Bouts, this is a game that had promise but is ruined by a multitude of bizarre design decisions.
  22. Apr 4, 2021
    45
    Balan Wonderworld is a disappointing platformer that feels like a wasted opportunity. There are some bright spots in its visuals, music, and boss fights, but the bulk of the game is characterized by stale level design, overly simplistic gameplay, useless power-ups, and annoying mini-games. It throws a lot of ideas at the wall, but lacks the polish to do any of it well. And with a price tag of $60, it's a hard sell.
  23. Mar 31, 2021
    45
    Frustrating in its playability, abstruse in most of its rules, the soft falls without a net. No drama to report: like a drunken cannon-man, Balan Wonderworld misses his target. Too imprecise for the youngest, too basic for fans of the genre, he cannot count on any of his costumes to hide his shortcomings.
  24. Mar 30, 2021
    40
    While Balan Wonderworld has a few interesting ideas tucked up its costumed sleeves, none of them are executed particularly well, which makes the game feel like a real chore to play. From its dozens of forgettable costumes and frustrating mechanics to its uninspired visuals, it’s hard to recommend adding this one to your PS5 library, especially when there are much better platformers like Astro’s Playroom and Sackboy: A Big Adventure already available.
  25. Mar 29, 2021
    40
    There's a lot of content in Balan Wonderworld, but the amount of backtracking and costume swapping makes returning to previous levels feel too demanding. Pairing Balan Wonderworld's small environments with its lackluster 3D platforming fails to provide the AAA entertainment players come to expect from similar modern titles. The main issue with the game isn't its outdated take on an already niche genre, but that its core gameplay isn't fun and its supporting elements aren't amusing. Balan Wonderworld is hard to recommend to anyone outside of diehard genre fans considering the quality of other 3D platformers on the market.
  26. Apr 11, 2021
    30
    Balan Wonderworld is a very ambitious looking game, and yet it manages to accomplish very little. I was very much expecting a new IP I would enjoy and ended up sorely disappointed by it. I don’t know what Square Enix's higher ups are thinking right now, but I'm guessing that it's not “This is the next big thing".
  27. Apr 4, 2021
    30
    Balan Wonderworld stands out as easily one of the worst 3D platformers in the past decade. There was no good reason for Square Enix and Yuji Naka to salvage this train wreck and it's an embarrassment that this game was allowed to be released at all in its current state. When the game’s only redeeming qualities are some good music and neat DualSense features, something clearly went wrong here. There is no doubt that Balan Wonderworld should've remained locked up in the game design vault it was conceived in twenty years ago.
  28. Apr 6, 2021
    20
    Balan Wonderworld is a lesson in how a video game can go completely wrong, missing every target it attempts to hit.
  29. Apr 5, 2021
    20
    If only Naka, staying true to form, had given the whole thing a dose of high speed; his work only holds together when it hurtles past our eyes, growing vivid with velocity.
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  1. Apr 1, 2021
    And yet for all that, I kind of adore Balan Wonderworld, to a degree that's surprised me. Maybe it's just come along at the right time, when I needed a colourful comfort blanket of a thing, a nostalgia strip as strange and insubstantial as watching a YouTube compilation of 90s TV adverts. Maybe it's because my expectations were low - Sonic Adventure has always been the game where the scales fell away from my eyes when it comes to Sega's mascot, and to Sonic Team, and I can't say I've ever enjoyed too much of the series since...Or maybe it's just because this is how games used to be, and sometimes it's comforting to slip into a 90s netherworld, and back into the old ways. When games were often clunky, unexplained, awkward and often downright frustrating. Balan Wonderworld is all those things, an almost too exacting facsimile of a type of second tier 90s platformer that never quite achieved greatness, even if it's fascinating all the same.
User Score
5.3

Mixed or average reviews- based on 245 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Mar 27, 2021
    10
    Exciting and fun. This Balan Wonderworld became one of my favorite platforming games after hitting the credits.
    The gameplay becomes much
    Exciting and fun. This Balan Wonderworld became one of my favorite platforming games after hitting the credits.
    The gameplay becomes much more immersive when you find the best costumes, and each level has hidden secrets reachable through the advanced costumes.
    It also presents a fairly rich and multifaceted postgame.

    Personally recommended for lovers of the platform genre.
    Full Review »
  2. Mar 27, 2021
    10
    I've truly loved the time that I've passed walking around the multiple stages of this colorful and funny game.
    A really shiny experience to
    I've truly loved the time that I've passed walking around the multiple stages of this colorful and funny game.
    A really shiny experience to live for just have some good moments of fun, with a nice platform
    Full Review »
  3. Mar 27, 2021
    10
    At first seems a bit strange, but when you reach the other advanced words of the game, you find how much the gameplay truly shine with theAt first seems a bit strange, but when you reach the other advanced words of the game, you find how much the gameplay truly shine with the platform design of the levels.
    Wonderful, because it's the cutest game ever
    Full Review »