A balloonist falls in a strange land, after the balloon is punctured by colliding with a passing bird during a storm. The deflated balloon must be fixed to escape the place. The inhabitants can help, but the foreigner must first complete a series of tasks to win their friendship using the environment and a newly adopted pet monster.
Wandering Willows is an adventure game that plays like a simplified and linear version of Animal Crossing, with elements of other games like MySims and Tamagotchi. After creating the avatar, the player starts to interact with the game in a mostly linear fashion, performing tasks and fetch quests for other characters.
Completely mouse-based, the interface allows the character to cook, sew, buy and sell items, with tabs for the inventory, accumulated designs for clothes and the recipe book. The main objective is to repair the balloon and escape. A pet follows closely the avatar at all times, and performs some essential duties like digging mounds for useful items, climbing trees to drop their fruits and use a seduction power to charm other animals. Each action takes a bit of the green energy bar of the pet, and the player has to feed the animal when the bar is yellow. The pet evolves and gets better at repeated tasks, increasing its statistics displayed at the top-left corner of the screen.
The avatar collects the items laying on the floor, and plucks vegetables and flowers from the ground. The accumulated items can be combined indirectly, some of them as ingredients for cooking, other used as part of clothing. The avatar can wear different pieces of clothing on the head, torso and legs.
Charmed animals drop random items, and sometimes eggs that can be hatched at the nursery, where the player can switch pets at will. The avatar can also plant assorted vegetables at the garden, and flowers anywhere. Garden items need to be watered once before growing, while flowers don't. After some seconds, they can be plucked and stored in the inventory to make dishes or floral arrangements.
The player receives money by selling items, or completing tasks. Money is used to buy necessary items, or more space to the garden and extra slots to the inventory. The player receives quests and tasks by talking with other characters.
The other characters have a friendship meter, that gets higher with each task performed, and by receiving pleasant gifts. Holding the mouse over each individual shows their likes and dislikes. After the meter reaches its maximum capacity, the character gives a present to the player, usually a new design or recipe. These can also be found on mounds and with charmed animals.