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Early Access Preview: Windscape
I am a huge fan of Early Access on Steam. It allows small budget studios to have the ability to get an outside perspective while also getting technical feedback. If one or two people develop a game, it is normally out of their budget to hire a Quality Assurance department to test their game, so why not go into Early Access? Windscape is one of those games that I am glad I got to play early. All of my impressions are based on a game that is not finished.
Windscape is set in a serine universe. You play as Ida, a young girl who lives on her parent’s farm. Her life changes forever when her father sends her out on some errands around town. The world you live in has floating islands all around the sky. Those islands begin to fall out of the sky due to some horrible kind of magic, and Ida’s job is to save the universe, essentially.
When I first started this game up, I was extremely impressed with how beautiful this world is. The colors and style that the developer is trying to take advantage of is breathtaking. For an Indie 3D Early Access game, Windscape ran wonderful in a technical aspect and had me awed at the way the universe had been crafted. While running between missions, you do not have that much to do in terms of activities. You can gather resources or fight whatever enemies you want along the way, which is not too thrilling. I found myself taking that time to enjoy the atmosphere and the awesome soundtrack.
Windscape features a lot of different systems. The crafting system is shown off in the first quest that you accept. Throughout the first island are many different crafting stations; alchemist tables, forges, furnaces, and campfires. Ida can create new armor and weapons, cook food, create potions, and even create spells. As you stumble throughout this island, you come upon resources that you have to gather in order to craft items. The resource gathering system in this game is flawed. It takes too long to chop wood, gather mushrooms, or mine copper, but I understand why that system is in place. I do not think that while picking drywood I should be able to reply to text messages, this should be shortened.
The combat in this game is another dull aspect of it. This Early Access version has you exploring the first large dungeon. You fight off a group of bandits before you take on a large boss. This gives you time to figure out the combat system, and I truly did not enjoy it. The enemies do not fight back if you continue to whack on them, making the combat very easy.
This version of Windscape is very ambitious. The developer, Dennis Witte at Magic Sandbox, did a great job at crafting a version of the game that would give people enough insight into what he wants to accomplish. He did this all while simultaneously cutting off the game at a point that players will be craving for more.
I do think this game would benefit heavily from a leveling up system, but I do not think that is what Dennis is going to go for. I applaud his ability to not create another procedurally generated game, because there is a need out there for games that actually come to an end. The inspiration from games like Zelda was heavily included throughout my whole playthrough. Dennis is trying to build a game along side of the community, as opposed to keeping his mouth shut and only using his own ideas. If you are one of those players who enjoys having his/her feedback heard from the developers, I would recommend grabbing this title and helping craft a great game.
Windscape is out on Early Access for Steam and is planned to come out on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in Q4 of 2017.