Windscape: 1. The view of a perceptible, natural current of air blowing from a particular direction
2. A floating, panoramic city inspiring a strong sense of wanderlust
THE WINDY CITYSoft, rosy petals quietly cascade upon wet soil. Muddy boots squish across a thousand day old path, tracing the seasons. A pleasant wind sweeps across weary, battered hands and smiles.The scarecrow watches from the field, content.
When we dream, our imaginations can take us anywhere. Magic Sandbox's Windscape is a beautiful, unbridled adventure that lifts us up to a castle in the sky, where myths and legends come to life. A 'huge fan' of games like Secret of Mana, Golden Axe Warrior and the Zelda series, Windscape's creator Dennis Witte wanted to create a 'vivid world without time pressures and a too restrictive storyline'. Deviating from the stats-driven, first person action RPG mould, Witte infused gameplay with puzzles and light combat undertones, and a large helping of non-linearity.
Windscape's story begins when a young, pink-haired lass called Ida is sent out by her parents to complete a seemingly innocent delivery, which quickly turns into a quest much more significant than anyone could have imagined. Windscape is currently in Early Access on Steam for $16.99 USD.
GAMEPLAYTrue to his word, Witte delivers a peaceful experience right from Windscape's opening. Players manoeuvre Ida through her parents' garden, where they can collect various ingredients like onions and fresh herbs which can be used later to brew a meat stew that assists with recovering health. Once she's free from the constraints of the steel gate, she can venture more fully into the absorbing world of yonder - but not without a club, of course. The club acts as a basic weapon which can be used for defence against hostile enemies, and can be upgraded with various embellishments to deal more damage, or if archery is more your style, there is also a bow and arrow to master.
Where Windscape evades action oriented gameplay it offers a calming, emotionally uplifting experience instead; fields of pink trees, a lone, googly-eyed scarecrow, and acres of greenery that encourage thorough exploration and discovery. There are often strange NPC's to meet, human and non-human alike. Most have their own, unique story to tell and will give you quests to fulfill. There's Benjamin, who lives in a treehouse and has had his basket stolen by wolves. Or Walter Eisenstatt, who has also been robbed but by bandits, and needs you to retrieve his copper from deep inside the dangerous mines.
The closest Windscape gets to anything resembling grinding is through its more micro level item collection system, in which players break barrels and unlock treasure chests to gather coins, locate stashes of dried wood, honey, and countless other reagents. Because of the non-linear gameplay style, rare are the moments when Windscape feels like a typical exercise in farming. Additionally, the sheer range of enemies provides more than enough entertainment value: bees, spiders, wolves all come with different styles of attack and help filling out the environments with enough challenge to sustain player interest at a moderate difficulty level. There are occasions when enemies can gang up on and overwhelm you with a flurry of attacks; just as well there are conveniently positioned 'totems' that double as save points and instant health regeneration elixirs, because when you've invested a good amount of time and effort into any given particular section, they could not be more welcome.
wherever the wind blowsIt's not often that you find an OST so pretty, classically archaic and dreamy as the one audible in Windscape. The melody smoothly adapts to reflect its environments and conveys a simultaneous quality of joy and sadness. It makes a powerful connection with the unusual, yet memorable graphics.
Initially, the artistry seemed unrefined, rough around the edges and one which could benefit from further polish. However, the more hours I spent becoming acquainted with it, the more I came to appreciate it for its differences and daring to create its own niche. The audiovisual combination is perhaps one of the strongest factors that makes Windscape feel like a game you can sink hours upon hours into without even realising it.
There were several times during my playthrough where I was content to merely sit and watch life pass me by, much like the scarecrow, and even when I had logged out of Steam many hours prior, I could hear myself humming Windscape's mesmerising tunes.
CONCLUSIONTranquil, healing, and full of hidden wonder, Windscape captures the imagination in a gentle caress. Its appeal lies not in brute force nor the addictive hook of a levelling system, but in the subtle yet powerful ways it enables player curiosity through whimsical melodies, a charming graphical approach, and a plethora of different personalities to interact with. Windscape is a triumph of the imagination.
|+ Immersive world||- Sometimes repetitive|
|+ Unique, polygonal artistic style||- Boss fights should be more difficult|
|+ Compelling narrative|
|+ Varied gameplay|
|+ Dreamy, adaptive soundtrack|
GAME SCORE: 8/10