A common phrase in games criticism that I use a lot when I want to appear smarter than I actually am is “gameplay loop.” The gameplay loop of a game is the actions you’ll be doing repeatedly throughout the course of the title’s length. In Wilmot’s Warehouse, for example, the core loop is pretty basic. In the game, you play as Willmott, a worker at a warehouse. You are tasked with organizing your space in order to quickly hand out stock to staff who then deliver those items elsewhere.
Each day you receive new stock, each represented by symbols. It is your job to make sure that when something is requested of you, you can find that item and make sure to give it to the staff. Quick delivery will give you more stars that you can use for upgrades. The basic loop of Wilmot’s Warehouse is that you organize stock, get orders, find the items you need and hand them off to the staff.
These actions are timed, with you having around two minutes to organize a new delivery of stock to your warehouse. There’s another time limit to get the stock from where you placed it to the members of staff that request it. The only break in this loop is that after three or so deliveries. The time limit is then removed, allowing you to reorganize the warehouse before starting all over again.
The stock you organize is represented with images on a square that you can move around a few at a time. You only get four new items a day added to the possible stock inventory, with a maximum of 200 unique variants of stock. The images depict things like scissors, rainbows, dominoes and trees. Some of these images are clearer in what they depict than others. Your job is to place these objects somewhere you can both get to and remember where they are placed. So, for example, if you have a lot of items that belong outdoors you may put them all together, for example.
During my playthrough, I received a lot of objects that related to feet. I got socks, shoes with laces, an “L” that looked kind of like a foot, horseshoes and duck’s feet. At one point, I had included camels’ feet within this category and I had placed them in the warehouse with the rest of the foot-related items.
However, I later received items that looked like camel humps, the body of a camel and a camel face. I had to reorganize that area to have all those items grouped around each other so when I thought camel, I knew where to look. Meanwhile, I had acquired so many different colorful patterns that I had just shoved all of them to the other side of the warehouse. While the left was a loosely organized mess of feet pics, the right was only grouped together by similarities in color and pattern. This whole mess did make for many funny moments where I would scream “Okay so these people both want feet!” and chuckle to myself a little.
As mentioned previously, you use the stars you collect from working fast to buy upgrades. These upgrades include removing large amounts of space you can’t use to group more objects close to where you make your deliveries, adding carrying capacity to pick up more items at the same time and other things that can assist in play. However, these upgrades range from essential, such as the ability to dash to save time or move objects around you to fit into spaces, to useless upgrades with vague descriptions that make them sound far better than they are.
For example, the cute delivery drone Borky sounded useful in theory, but can only pick up one item at a time. While it will place stock together with other stock of its kind, it might place it in ways that get in the way. Borky is unable to consider if the amount of stock requires the whole area to be rearranged when stock is overflowing. I also bought a map, which I thought could help and I assumed would be a mini-map or relegated to the pause menu. Instead, it’s a physical map you can’t move and stays in one place, so if you want to look at it you have to keep that area accessible and go all the way there. The only use I found for the map was during stock days, where I could use it to see when the stock was out of place and needed to be moved.
The upgrades can be useful, but none of them drastically change the gameplay loop — and that’s kind of the problem. That base loop can be fun in small doses. But after half an hour of playing, I often found myself disinterested in playing any more for a while. Wilmot’s Warehouse never introduces new mechanics or ways to interact with the warehouse —just more stuff to move around. With new stuff, it does become harder to keep what you’ll need close nearby. Other than the difficulty ramping up, the game doesn’t really change four hours in from what you were doing 20 minutes in.
The game isn’t really that hard — I never found myself with only seconds to spare unless I made a drastic mistake. If I remembered where things were placed, I moved deliberately and I made sure I had room to move when I was organizing, the time limit wasn’t an issue. But, while the time limit itself didn’t bother me, the pressure of that ticking clock did. I’ve seen Wilmot’s Warehouse described as relaxing, but personally, there was rarely a moment I wasn’t on edge — other than the sections where the time limit was removed to allow me to take stock.
The game’s time limit isn’t harsh enough to really challenge me, but it also isn’t long enough to make me feel no pressure at all. I played the game on the normal setting, the lowest of two difficulties. I feel I would have really appreciated an easy mode. If there was a difficulty where you lost stars for being slow, instead of losing all together when you run out of time, I would have enjoyed the organizational elements of Wilmot’s Warehouse more. The time limit never felt exciting, just anxiety-inducing. I’m sure others love the timer, but for me, it got in the way of any fun that the moment-to-moment gameplay had to offer.
A good core loop can remain exciting and hopefully fun from beginning to end without being criticized for being repetitive. While I like how Wilmot’s Warehouse looks and enjoyed that core loop, I didn’t find much to latch onto once I got past the charm of the game. Organizing the warehouse, putting stock into categories that change and develop with new stock was exciting. But the actual gameplay outside of the organization became stale quickly. Perhaps, the monotony of it all fits with the subject matter. Personally, I felt the game was missing the variety it needed to stay fresh.
Wilmot’s Warehouse is charming, but its time pressures make its core loop that is intended to be relaxing, more stressful than it had to be.
- Simplistic but effective art style
- Core mechanics are satisfying
- Gameplay becomes stale with little innovation to the core loop
- The games timers add unnecessary stress