Sunday, November 13, 2016

First Impressions: Windscape

Developer: Magic Sandbox
Publisher: Headup Games

DISCLAIMER: This game is still in Early Access. All thoughts and opinions herein are related to the game during its development state. Features/content are subject to change and this is not a final representation of the game.

Windscape is an ambitious title that looks to mix the old parts of games you love with the new trends of today. One part Zelda, two parts Elder Scrolls is a good way to sum up the formula for Windscape. Developer Magic Sandbox aims to accomplish this gargantuan goal in simple ways. However, filling the Steel Boots of these epic titles is far from an easy task and drowning in a Lake Hylia is more then likely if one doesn't tread carefully.

From the onset Windscape is doing rather well for itself, currently in its early development stage. The moment you load up into the game your eyes are overwhelmed by the bright colorful world. Aesthetically, Windscape aims to have simple graphics, reminiscent of the classic Ocarina of Time but with more of clean crisp look. Needless to say, but the game is extremely polygonal, The people, monsters, caves, mountains, clouds, everything is polygons. At first this is going to take some adjustment, at least for me it did. Once you do adjust though you realize how beautiful the game looks with its vibrant tones.

Deeper areas of the Early Access show the versatility of this art style, as everything goes from bright and cheery to dark and sinister. I personally can't wait to see what future areas are going to be like and how far this style can go. Other aspects shine as well, such as level design, use of lighting and particle effects. There are some areas for improvement of course. The UI needs improvement, house designs become repetitive, and other little things here and there.

Another highlight we should talk about is the music of Windscape. As soon as you embark on your adventure you are greeted by a soundtrack full of levity and excitement. The tracks capture perfectly the inspiration for the game but doesn't feel copied nor does it drag at any point. It's definitely one of the areas I enjoyed most about Windscape. I could just sit there and enjoy the music for quite a bit. In short, the developer has nailed the overall feeling of the game and just needs to keep moving forward and keep things interesting.

Touching upon those Elder Scroll elements, we have the first person combat and crafting. Windscape takes the scheme of other survival crafting titles and simplifies most of it. Unlike in Zelda, here you can craft your own weapons and tools to use in combat. As of right now there are spells, bows, blunt weapons, and sharp weapons, all corresponding with a different damage stat.

How this is going to be expanded upon will be interesting to see, as there is no hunger bar or really any other survival mechanics outside of your health bar. While crafting in the game is simple, it ended up feeling a little bit like a chore for me. It especially sapped the joy out of opening huge treasure chests. which usually just contained materials to craft something or meat. So much meat. Crafting materials tend to pile up.

The reason it felt like a chore is because the combat is rather simple and easy to exploit.(Of course that will likely change) Using saving totems automatically refills your health, so items such as food or health potions only become necessary on rare occasion. The resistance to damage type potions, I never used once, despite them being a huge chunk of crafting. The crafting system though does have plenty of room to grow in good ways, from crafting armor, shields, and magic accessories. The only problem is going to be making it fun and exciting.

Combat is great but does suffer from quite a few bugs, AI randomly going brain dead and standing still, little variation in tactic beyond just charging up a shot, hitting and backing off. It becomes a very much rinse and repeat scenario. Situational awareness is an issue with no HUD as well. Boss fights on the other hand, when they do work, feel like epic show downs. You gotta move fast and play smart as they have far superior health and damage.

With currently about two whole areas to explore, you will get about four hours out of the game. That is stretching it if you want to craft everything. Obviously more content is on the way with a plethora of changes. I can see why people are excited about Windscape, the game does have plenty of potential, but it needs to build on itself in a pretty massive epic way. There are areas that need some tender loving care such as combat, bugs, AI. Ideas that can bring more life to the game such as voice acting, personal housing, and what I loved most of all about Ocarina of Time mini-games and secrets around every corner!

At $16.99 currently, keep in mind purchasing this title is mostly to SUPPORT THE DEVELOPER, as there is hopefully way more content coming. Given the developers constant updates, great publisher and passionate game intro, from the developer on the Steam page, I wouldn't worry about the game being completed. So keep your eyes on this one as it grows into a classic for sure.

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