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Wild Hearts Review

Wild Hearts

Developers: Omega Force, Koei Tecmo
Publisher: EA
Platforms: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X (Reviewed), PC
Release Date: February 17, 2023
Price: $69.99 USD – Available Here $109.95 AUD – Available Here


When it comes to hunting down monsters there is usually a certain series that fans turn to involving a feline, and most recently canine, companion but there have been others that have attempted to move into the fantastical hunting grounds before. One such developer is Omega Force who has previously worked on games like Toukiden that attempted their own take on the hunting genre. After a couple of attempts with the smaller series, the developer has made an incredibly odd pairing that sees the Koei Tecmo owned developer working alongside EA to bring out a large scale monster hunting game called Wild Hearts that puts its own spin on taking down giant beasts with all manners of weaponry and unique real-time crafting mechanics. Is this brand new element one that opens the doors to competition and helps Wild Hearts establish a foothold?


As a lone hunter, players find themselves on the trail of an extremely powerful Kemono that has begun ravaging the land of Azuma. These Kemono are beasts similar to natural creatures such as squirrels, bears, and other creatures only grown to monstrous size and infused with powers of nature. The player-created hunter, who can have their own backstory crafted through a series of simple questions, finds themselves quickly outmatched by the Deathstalker Kemono and at the brink of death. Only through the help of a mysterious traveler and an ancient piece of technology that has been fused into their body can the hunter once again rise and face off against the Kemono once more in an effort to restore some sort of balance between nature and what is left of humanity.

For the most part the storyline in Wild Hearts is fairly simplistic and mostly serves as the tool that keeps players progressing through each hunt and unlocking more of the world to explore. The city of Minato and its residents do have some charm to them, but it is a bit too simple with even the most interesting side-quests they offer having predictable conclusions. This isn’t too big of a detriment, especially since there is some great lore to be found about the Kemono both in the game’s glossary once they’ve hunted enough as well as collectables out in the world, but it would be nice if the characters and the storyline were a bit more fleshed out.


In many ways those familiar with another certain hunting franchise will feel right at home with Wild Hearts as players will generally start out hunts in the same way. While players can freely travel to unlocked areas and hunt any Kemono that they find roaming the map, including some that they may not be ready to face off against yet, most hunts are undertaken by selecting either the story mission, side-mission, or replay mission objective on the map. This can be accessed at any time through the map or selected at the campfire. Along these same lines players can easily request assistance for any of their chosen hunting targets either through the map, upon first facing off against the creature at the tap of a button, or even accessing one of the many small gateways throughout each zone, with the latter also allowing players access to search for others who may be looking for help in a hunt. It is a bit odd that Omega Force capped the total number of hunters at only three at a time but thankfully the process of finding and playing with others runs so smoothly with crossplay that it makes any type of co-op easy to access and enjoy.

Various mechanics such as needing to manage an inventory or worry about weapon sharpness are not elements players will need to worry about in Wild Hearts and eating food is a more interesting element as well. Players can carry up to twenty different types of food with them at a time though these items can be dried, pickled, etc. to increase the amount of stat bonuses they provide when eaten. There is a limit to how many items the player can consume on any given hunt but this ability to customize and prepare food beforehand is a nice feature, especially since it can happen anywhere. Players can even eventually prepare multiple food preparation stations back in Minato to keep a steady stream of enhanced items waiting for them when they return from a hunt.

As for the beasts that players will be hunting, Wild Hearts has quite an array of them to take down and while the overall number may be a bit on the anemic side, especially since one is more gimmick than anything else and there are a couple reskins, almost every battle will feel like a thrill for a number of reasons. Not only are these Kemono gorgeously designed they all have different elemental properties and abilities that they can and will use while fighting against the player. This can range from simple aspects like the sap covered Sapscourge slowing hunters and making them easier to hit to a Gritdog that can use magnetic sand to suck in the player towards a devastating attack while crafting structures similar to those the player is capable of creating. This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to some of the capabilities of these creatures, as some can throw new abilities at players as they grow enraged close to death, often increasing their elemental properties and morphing them into far more dangerous targets capable of dealing massive amounts of damage that can leave players staggering as well as transforming the local area with its abilities.

Of course, the Kemono aren’t the only ones with tricks up their sleeves as the primary tool that hunters have on their side, outside of their weapon of choice of course, are Karakuri. Karakuri are structures that players can spend their limited amount of thread (obtained from rocks, trees, and even drawn from Kemono’s exposed weak spots should the player climb on top of them) to construct in the middle of combat and work as both support items and powerful structures that can help in numerous ways. Players can summon things such as simple blocks to spring off of to perform aerial attacks, springs that can shoot them away from attacks or right at an enemy if they wish, gliders that are useful both for dodging incoming blows as well as gaining a height advantage with certain weapons, and much more. These basic Karakuri can be summoned in certain combinations to create powerful fusion Karakuri that are unlocked as players battle against certain Kemono. Many of these are a bit situational but things such as the Bulwark can create a solid wall that will block at least one incoming blow and give players a chance to heal or revive an ally while also serving as a launching platform for attacks. Along these same lines are fusions such as healing mist, and even a firework that can temporarily stun a Kemono. That being said, some of these are a bit too situational for their own good and often various attacks do appear to glitch through things such as the Bulwark leading to an untimely death or a well-timed Pounder blow dealing no damage despite making contact.

Alongside these smaller karakuri players can also craft “Dragon Karakuri” that are more permanent features on both the hunting maps as well as within Minato. These karakuri can be disassembled at will and are usually meant for utility as they can do things such as automatically catch fish, serve as fast travel points through the use of tents, prepare ingredients, and simply navigate around the map faster, especially through the use of “Flying Vine” ziplines and a certain one-wheel vehicle.  It is worth noting that players are limited on using the Dragon Karakuri a bit as the only way to build them is to make use of elemental wells that must be unlocked and upgraded throughout the map, increasing the amount of each element that can be used on any given map. This does make for some rather interesting design elements as players can choose to place various hunting elements in one area, including an item that will scan the area for Kemono, and then craft a series of ziplines making traveling after their target a quick affair, making us wonder just how many unique layouts players will see as they travel to other hunters’ worlds and assist in hunts, perhaps gaining some insight as to how to make their own lives easier as well.

Now, while Wild Hearts makes the karakuri the various tools that hunters can make use of when hunting a beast, their primary attacks will always be their weapon of choice and this game has nine different types to offer. Some of the weapons are a bit on the standard side and can be a bit predictable with the hammer making strong blows that can be extended into larger hits with precise timing and bows that deal extra damage when their users alternate attack types and charge and unfortunately one of the most interesting and dynamic weapons is locked away until players complete the first part of the game but there are some unique elements here. The powerful cannon can be combined with Karakuri to give it a faster fire rate or charged to dish out massive damage but leaves the player slow while the morphing Karakuri Staff makes for some of the most fluid and enjoyable fighting around as the weapon morphs from form to form and allows for players to smoothly transition between weapon types and keeping attacks up against the Kemono. Of course, another favorite is the Bladed Wagasa that can deal penetration damage and allow for players to chain into airborne attacks with ease while also being able to parry some attacks, giving players extra defensive options besides rolling, jumping, or using karakuri to get out of the way of an attack.

Fighting against Kemono using these weapons is almost always a delight and while things may be a bit slow at times and rather dangerous, especially when facing off against a new threat, these battles are almost always a sight to behold. That being said, things can feel a bit too difficult at times especially in single player as, even well-equipped, Kemono attacks can deal massive amounts of damage to a hunter with a few hits killing in one blow. While players do have three lives, and the ability to revive co-op partners if fighting alongside others online, this can be a bit frustrating especially when certain attacks glitch through the aforementioned Bulwark. It is also worth noting that while the game does offer a see-through option for some terrain, it is entirely possible to get trapped within either a large Kemono’s body or in part of the terrain making the camera completely useless and leaving players at the mercy of their target. 

As for upgrading their hunter’s gear, players will make use of the tried and true method of taking their spoils from a hunt and other resources and using them to craft the very same armor and weapons they will use for the next hunt. Unfortunately the amount of armor is a bit on the limited side, especially since there isn’t much gear that takes advantage of smaller Kemono or other resources, but there are additional upgrades for most gear. These upgrades come in the form of either “Human” or “Kemono” paths that enhance gear a step further while attaching extra abilities too. That being said, these extra upgrades do take a rather large amount of resources so players may wish to focus more on their weapons instead as they also have a rather unique upgrade tree. Rather than simply upgrade along a standard path or craft from scratch, every weapon has an upgrade tree that they can learn various skills along and transfer them as they progress down a tree. This makes for some interesting combinations and, while it costs a bit of money, players can revert upgrades and regain all materials used if they wish to take their weapon down a different path. This does mean however that some upgrades can remain out of reach for a bit if players are missing materials from an earlier Kemono and need to hunt that down instead.

Visuals & Audio

Wild Hearts on the Xbox Series X is a real delight to see as each zone that players travel through as the story progresses is tied to one season though the enemies that they fight there may not be. The locations often have great designs with unique looking areas scattered throughout, though fighting Kemono in some of these areas can be frustrating due to aforementioned camera issues. The actual Kemono themselves are extensively detailed with a great blend of nature-twisted creature that grows in power as it enrages and transforms further as it comes close to defeat. Be it the ground changing attacks they can unleash or the colorful designs that shift as players fight them, Kemono are a real delight and it is a bit of a shame that there are only a little over twenty, a few being reskins, available at launch.

As for the soundtrack, Wild Hearts features a great collection of background music that plays while exploring Minato and there are some solid sound effects to be heard while exploring the various hunting zones as well, including the various cries that the Kemono make during battle. The voice work is also handled rather well, though it may take a bit for some players to get used to the way characters weave Japanese and English words together in the same sentence, often repeating the same word in both languages.


Time will tell if Wild Hearts will make its mark on the beast hunting genre but it has certainly managed to impress with its own spin on things. Placing a feudal Japanese spin on the world while focusing on Kemono that are nature-imbued versions of common creatures makes for a great aesthetic that works quite well with some fine tuned combat mechanics and the unique elements that come from crafting Karakuri both for fights and navigation. Although Wild Hearts may have a rather small pool of Kemono to hunt and need some refinements to some of its Karakuri, this take on the hunting formula is one that will delight those looking for something familiar but different.

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Wild Hearts’ feudal Japan setting and fusion of nature and beast create a gorgeous aesthetic with unique Karakuri elements alongside solid weapon mechanics making nearly every hunt enjoyable.
Travis Bruno
Travis Bruno
After playing games since a young age and getting into anime a bit later on its been time to write about a little bit of everything.
<i>Wild Hearts</i>’ feudal Japan setting and fusion of nature and beast create a gorgeous aesthetic with unique Karakuri elements alongside solid weapon mechanics making nearly every hunt enjoyable.Wild Hearts Review