Windscape is quite an ambitious little game which features a boat-load of game mechanics and a fun and engaging story. Despite all this, it does, however, feel like a ‘My First RPG’.
Windscape starts out very quaint with the player character, Ida, chilling out by some haystacks on her family farm. Shortly after taking control of Ida, her father tasks you with delivering a package to a blacksmith in the nearby town. To make sure you stay as safe as possible, Ida (just a farmhand I want to remind you) is given a weapon from her patriarchal figurehead and sent off with no actual combat experience…
After fighting past one whole wolf and a pair of pretty pissed off bees, Ida finally makes it to town to put UPS and FedEx to shame with a hasty delivery. This is where the story really picks up, our hammer-wielding homeboy is still short of copper from a delivery boy and needs you (still only a farmers daughter with no formal combat training) to see what’s taking so long. After a brief stroll through the countryside slaughtering quadrupeds, more bees, and webby bois you learn that the copper mine has been occupied by some bandits. Now it’s up to you, THE FARM GIRL WHO HAS ONLY JUST LEFT THE SAFETY OF HER HOME!!
The story has such a snowball effect that, regardless of its excitement, takes away from the immersion. If there had been more of a gradual build to the character development of Ida I would have probably felt a little more invested in the tasks I was faced with, but alas it seems to be a missed opportunity for the tale which I feel would have been beneficial. Fortunately, this seems to matter little later on in Windscape as your valiant tales over heroism do help to forget this fact to some degree.
As mentioned earlier, Windscape does have quite a good amount of gameplay features to be discovered throughout. Obviously with an Action/Adventure game you’ve got good ol’ fashioned combat. There are several ways to play and the game does try to make it so you give each method a go at least once. You have the classics such as; getting your stab on with swords, making heads go smushy with maces and clubs, turning enemies to pin cushions with bows, and lastly, going all David Copperfield with some MAGIC.
Each playstyle is fairly fun if not for the animations being egregious. When I play a game I want there to be reactions and some form of character under the skin. When smacking enemies around in Windscape though everything seems very robotic. It was another unfortunate hit for the immersion of the game.
Another mechanic which Windscape has slipped in is foraging. This is quite an important feature of the game as it leads to the crafting side of things too. So, creeping around mines for precious ores and going flower picking thankfully isn’t a waste of anyone’s time. You can use the ores from the mines to craft yourself some new and sexy weapons for maiming the untamed locals. Then you can use your freshly picked bouquet of flowers to mix up some fancy potions or a lovely pot of stew (seriously).
The crafting, at first, is fairly simple with just a few weapons, spells and potions available to you. Though as you progress further through the game, things do get a little bit more detailed, though at the core it doesn’t really do much in terms of develop the game. Nothing really changes at the core other than increased stat changes. This is a shame, as there could have been a lot more in-store had the crafting element being expanded upon more than just what is readily available to you from the start.
There are also a relatively decent amount of boss battles to tackle in Windscape. Though it seems you can apply one of two different strategies to dominate each, which really takes away from the idea of a boss battle as the challenge is really taken away from them. I found that if you wanted to go in flailing all you need to do is strafe around the boss performing hip realignment surgery for about five minutes, and for the ranged approach, you could utilize a similar strategy just this time from the edge of the arena.
Alongside the boss fights comes the realization that Windscape takes into account different resistance types. This means that using different types of weapons will do different amounts of damage to whatever enemy you come face to face with. This forces you to mix up what play style you use throughout the entirety of the game. Many bosses have full immunity to certain types of damage so it is always worth studying an enemy before swinging your dick at them in hopes of victory.
The graphical choice in Windscape is one that I couldn’t seem to wrap my head around. The game is an odd blend of polygons and cel shading. On the surface, the game does look fantastic but upon closer inspection, it felt a little like Runescape but in first person (which was really fucking bizarre). For the most part, it did make the world look absolutely fantastic but there were points throughout where it was a hindrance.
Not only was the world deceptive thanks to this design choice but it was also very unflattering to the NPC community who you found throughout. Thanks to the chosen blend of styles applied, the characters you meet throughout kind of look like laminated punched lasagna.
There were moments where I was playing where the graphical choice made traversal somewhat of a bitch. There were pathways which, from a distant, looked fairly standard with nothing out of the ordinary but upon further inspection, it turned out were set in places where the land was too steep to walk upon. This meant applying my mad problem-solving skills… and walking an extra few feet to get to where I was headed.
Windscape did have a beautifully put together soundtrack though. The ambiance of the game was overall very fitting for the world which it had been designed for. When out and about in the wilderness, the music was very atmospheric and filled everything with wonderment. On the other hand, was during combat, everything became tenser and really helped to get the blood boiling in my rage-filled loins.
There was quite a lot of thought put into the world of Windscape. There is a huge amount of diversity to found all over, from mines to caves and towns to mountains. No two location ever feel the same. What really helps to differentiate between a vast amount of locations is that the mobs found in each are different, really helping to give each location its own personality.
Even though there are a lot character to be found all over Windscapes, I also thought that the world seemed small in comparison to other open world games. I did find this quite endearing though as it didn’t try to over saturate itself with too much to do but it did also take away from the longevity of play time.
I did enjoy the overall feel that Windscape had but it could definitely benefit from taking a leaf or two from some of its better-established competitors. Even though there is plenty to do, the rapid advance of the game’s story makes much of what you do feel like a chore and gets extremely repetitive. There is definitely a lot of love poured out here though I wish that there was more detailed development in the later game.