A Valley Without Wind Parts 1 & 2 – Review

A review of A Valley Without Wind Parts 1 & 2 I wrote for the website www.square-go.com

Just to make it clear; this is a review of two games, the original A Valley Without Wind and it’s sequel. It only seems fair to look at them as one because, in many ways, the games take the same idea and look at in it two different. The main question then will be which one is the most successful?

A Valley Without Wind is set in a world named Environ where reality has fractured. Parts of time are smashing together; modern cities next to medieval villages. You play a glyhpbearer who has to venture out into this world and try to rebuild civilisation. All of this is done in a side scrolling platform game that brings in all sorts of genres, from RPGs and city buildings, into the same world.

And it’s a pretty good looking world, although somewhat rough around the edges. The game world is procedurally generated so no two games should ever be quite the same. Said world is full of monsters and items and missions and it’s all laid out in front of you like a big buffet.

But like a giant table heaving with the finest sandwiches, it’s all a bit overwhelming. The interface is full of numbers and maps and windows and messages and it’s all a bit off putting. There is a huge amount of choice to how you play the game from the setup of your character to how you approach the various missions. You can’t get too comfortable though, as the developers say your character will die then it’s time to pick another and off you go.

This makes the game feel similar to a roguelike, a genre that has been in somewhat of a renaissance over the past few years. But, like with roguelikes, they are an acquired taste that aren’t for everyone. Not everyone will want to spend the time getting used to the controls, finding the right balance of spells, spending time in the menus to get to the heart of the game.

This is something that the sequel, A Valley Without Wind 2, addresses somewhat. Whereas the first was an open plan-do what you want-free roaming kind of game AVWW2 is more story led.

This game casts you as a mage who has infiltrated the inner circle of Demonaica who, with a name like that, could only be the biggest bad guy of the land. After learning his secret of immortality you are now the only one powerful enough to stop him and save the world and that.

It’s much the same as the first game; run around in a side scrolling fashion killing enemies and powering up. This time the game is split between an overworld section that shows you the map of the world. As you are teamed up with the resistance you need to move to each square of the map and first of all free it of the corruption brought by the bad guys. Then you can place members of the resistance there, some areas you can farm for food, others you can build hospitals and so on. Your resistance members need food, they need their morale kept up, all of which is down to you.

There is a lot more in your face guidance as well, which may rub some people up the wrong way. But when you’re throwing out as many concepts as AVWW2 does you need an easy way in, a gentle slope so before you know it you’re juggling lots of things at once as well as killing as many bad guys as possible.

There’s still a few niggles to the game that hamper it; the design of the game is given a refresh but it’s still rough in places. The controls are better but still take time to get used to and it still subscribes to the philosophy of of why use one menu when ten will do?

So you have a choice; the first game lets you play as you see fit in a big open world for you to make your own path in. The second gives you a more guided experience, a more set path but with enough room to experiment in. So it’s good that when you buy one you get the other free so you can try your hand at both.

Both of them aren’t games for everyone but both do enough to try new things to warrant your attention.

Three stars out of five

Originally published September 3rd 2013

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