- Developer: Magic Sandbox
- Publisher: Headup Games
- Release Date: 27/03/2019
- Price: $19.99 / £15.99
- Review code provided by Headup Games
Wind beneath my wings
What are the most important points when making a Video game?
Are there videos? Is it a game?
An important part of any game that is about to be released is that it is a finished product, ready for the hands of the disconcerting members of the general public.
Unfortunately, Windscape is nowhere near the finished article and as a result of this, suffers tremendously. Which is a real shame as there are some ideas that, had they been explored further, could have made for an enjoyable video game.
Knocked the wind right out of me
The first issue that I had with Windscape was the frame rate, which was apparent from the games sweeping opening cinematic. It really is quite staggering how jarring it can be when there is a lot happening on screen. In a later area of the game, the Deja vu inducing mine level there are areas that border on unplayable due to the framerate being so shoddy. Thankfully though, in the area where the framerate was struggling the most, and as my eyes started to strain from the choppy motions, I simply fell straight through the solid floor and the sweet release of death embraced me in its warm molten lava like bosom. Which I took as a sign from a higher power to call it a night.
A Bug’s Life
Which brings me nicely to my next point – bugs. For most titles, bugs can be a nuisance that are often identified and eliminated before a game launches, ensuring the optimal experience by the time launch day rolls around. Unless there is a massive day one update, this wont be the case with Windscape as it is simply riddled. The first one I encountered meant that I was unable to damage the games initial boss. Despite my patience and perseverance I was simply unable to put a dent into his health bar, even though I had crafted a pretty nifty little sword. After speaking to a friend who defeated the same boss with a club I realised that it must be an issue at my end so exited the game, reloaded my save and traversed back to the boss room. Sure enough, I dispatched of him with consummate ease at the second time of asking.
After that, I encountered numerous instances where I simply fell through in game assets, be them floors, walls or even lava!! I also encountered a delightful little bug where enemies continually re-spawned, which was just wonderful as combat in Windscape is just…
Winding me up
…. utterly awful. It truly is a real slog due in part to the control mapping, but also because of the simplicity of combat itself. Regarding the controls, this game was clearly designed to be played with a mouse and keyboard but I guess due to the runaway success of Nintendo’s hybrid baby, everyone and their great grandmother wants a slice of the metaphorical pie and as such, Windscape!! Unfortunately though, due to this, playing this game with a game pad, be it a pair of Joy Con, a Pro Controller or even the Switch in handheld mode is just downright uncomfortable. The addition of a parry or a quick dodge would have at least made combat engaging, instead its a real bore. As, even when blocking, there is a knock back effect from enemy attacks, the best way to defeat enemies is to retreat to the corner of the room, block, let all of the enemies gather round, wait for them to strike, hope that there is some synchronicity to their strikes and when the opportune moment presents itself, land a few hits. It’s a slow arduous process and further adds to the frustration and pure, unrelenting bitterness that I feel towards Windscape.
There are moments in Windscape the truly take my breath away, for all the wrong reasons. When crossing the dessert, I encountered virtually no life, and aside from all the key places, the town, Labyrinth, Oasis and ork camp, there was literally nothing – yet the map was huge and empty. Paired with having to hold in the left stick to run, something that becomes uncomfortable incredibly quickly, made for some very monotonous gaming. In typical fashion there is a journal that adds entries when you visit certain locations, in order to create some lore and depth of story, however after seven entries, all taking place on the first island, the journal ceases to update and like so many aspects of Windscape, becomes yet another unfinished idea that was, for reasons unbeknown to this humble hack, never removed from the final game.
Wind in the wallows
It’s not all doom and gloom though, there were some aspects of Windscape that I found to be very enjoyable indeed. The soundtrack is great, just a good old fashioned fantasy epic selection of music offering suspense, intrigue and at times peril and apprehension to proceedings. It’s honestly just a shame that the game play never matches the music.
The artistic direction too – whilst being a little derpy and seeming, much like the rest of the game unfinished, is endearing, offering a cel shaded aesthetic that is not as polished as its obvious source of inspiration, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.
The great Wind(e)scape
Talking of inspiration, it’s clear that Windscape is heavily influenced by the Legend of Zelda series of games, which is no bad thing, they are after all truly special games. The whole feel of the four in-game dungeons immediately gave me Zelda vibes and got me tingling ever so slightly. Playing through Windscape made me realise that as much as I love Breath of the Wild, I long for the days of formulaic dungeons, focusing on a core idea and item and running with it, through to the inevitable showdown with the dungeon boss. Unfortunately, much like the rest of the game, the majority of the ideas feel unfinished and instead of having me basking in the joys of their puzzles and unique enemies, had me questioning what could have been.
Windscape really feels like a missed opportunity. The game in its current form is clearly unfinished. The main story, which I haven’t previously mentioned as it seems irrelevant tasks you with locating 3 sages in order to locate and stop the big bad! By the time the credits rolled I had only encountered 2 sages. I also found, along with the plethora of aforementioned bugs, numerous typos and translation errors which once more pointed to the game being unfinished.
There are plenty of ideas that are for the most part fine. Crafting just about works, the only problem I had was that I couldn’t get the materials required to craft the end game gear as the creatures required to kill to get drops were just ridiculously overpowered and as such I barely made a dent in their health bar. Again, Windscape just doesn’t feel like the finished article.
I’m sure that during Windscape’s conception, hopes and aspirations were high to craft a loving homage to the Zelda games and the fantasy genre in general, however it pains me to say that Windscape is in no fit state to release and without considerable updates is not fit to be in anything other than pre-alpha stages of testing.
Windscape is not a finished game. If you want to play a clunky, buggy mess, play Skyrim.