It is about time that I started blogging about A Valley Without Wind. After all, I do love the work that Arcen Games has done for Ai War: Fleet Command (and expansions) and their puzzle game Tidalis is my most favored puzzle-genre game to date. I even did a review of Tidalis and planning on a Ai War review in the coming months, but that is another story at this point. So suffice it to say, I am extremely late talking about this game, but it seems that this may also be the best starting point to talk about AVWW. They just made a fundamental change to the game that I am still absorbing the consequences of such an action.
So what is a Valley Without Wind? It is a game currently in production by Arcen Games, an indie company that develops PC/Mac games that are deep, fun to play and break the genre rules. Ai War set a new precedent with a co-operative RTS type game against a powerful and smart AI. Tidalis is a deep and varied puzzle game that tries to set itself apart from other puzzle games with style that I’ve never seen puzzle games try for. AVWW is their attempt at an adventure style game. “It’s a procedurally-generated action-adventure game from the creators of AI War, with a focus on exploration and survival in an ever-expanding fantasy world unique to the individual player.” (Quote from here). I have been really excited about this game. A huge world to explore, with plenty of crafting, combat, beautiful vistas and so much more, this looked to replace a deep need of a Legend of Zelda-like game that I have been missing for the longest of times. With Arcen Games at the helm, I feel like they could do something really special and so far, it looks promising.
Before you read on, you might want to visit here: Arcen’s Website for AVWW. That will get you caught up on what I am actually talking about. 🙂
My reactions to their latest changes is about the side-scroll view. I am slightly concerned. Side-scroll view from the overhead view is such a change that my first feeling was rather negative. Side scrolling seems like a limiting factor on what looked to be deep gameplay. But then I was reminded of one of my old favorite genres, being Metroid. Metroid and the series was a lot of fun for me and I’ve managed to play about half of them, as some were on the SNES and I never had access to that console. So back to AVWW, despite this negative reaction I went and looked over the trailers for the older version of the game.
AVWW feels and looks tighter as a side-scroller than the old over-the-head-look. Even I had to admit that the old look just strains the eyes and I believe this was due to the sheer amount of items present when your looking at the game from that perspective. In this sense, the game would have possibly failed. If I was having issues looking at it for a couple of minutes, I can understand why there was so much negativity to it from other people. From the side-scrolling look, the graphics look just absolutely sharp. It all fits together and you don’t feel like your straining yourself even in the slightest to look at it. It still has an epic feeling to it and there is a lot more possibilities for this game to go through. Chris did mention it is easier to make the buildings as he only has to craft one side of it. This is indeed true as Farmville and games use this trick in order to put out more and more content for their players. So this definitely has an advantage of more and more content. The character animations look better too, though a bit of tweaking will no doubt help and the spells look even more gorgeous. The buildings have more impact on the look and I think that it all just flows together, rather than clashes like it did in the earlier versions of the game.
The style of the graphics also comes out really well. While you could get a feeling of it before, this new view seems to focus the style of graphics and it looks really pretty. I can’t stress that enough, but it looks REALLY PRETTY. 🙂 I think all the hard work Chris put into it doesn’t go to waste with the pictures you can see of it.
My other worry is combat. I felt like side-scrolling would limit combat again, but going back to the old system, the combat in that game was a little wonky from what I could tell. I wasn’t going to make any real impressions of it until I had access to the BETA version, but just from the videos I think that the combat will be better and smoother since its less about how your character is aimed and has a definite tacticle feel to it. But this is really difficult to say which way would have been better as we will never get to play both versions of it. Although if I have to say anything about scrolling combat it is to avoid Legend of Zelda II’s combat system, that is the wonkiest and most grinding combat system on the planet. Its still a game I have yet to finish and have no intention of finishing. Obviously, Chris already knows this, but I’m just reminding him. 😉
My main worry is exploration. Is it going to be just as big and epic as it could have been before this change? I hope so, but sometimes this perspective can lessen this feeling. I can’t say for certain without testing it myself. Without seeing more of it, I truly hope that stealth and exploration still works in this game. I believe there is a lot more potential for this game and I do think that Arcen can realize this potential. Here’s hoping! 🙂
There you go, my thoughts on the latest change. To check out AVWW, go to the link above.
-King Isaac Linksr