A Valley Without Wind is a 2D side-scrolling adventure game that borrows a bit from Minecraft and Terraria, and improves on some of the features of both titles. We got to try out the game at PAX East and realized that this title is more about exploration than building.
It’s like a randomly generated Metroidvania, though this isn’t to say players can’t build things in A Valley Without Wind, they just won’t have to rely on construction so heavily (as in Minecraft).
Choice is a major part of A Valley Without Wind. Gamers can team up with their friends, or go solo, and choose to do whatever they want when starting a new game. The world is procedurally generated, meaning that when players create a new game it’s a new world each time – something seen in both Terraria and Minecraft. Players start on a continent with an overlord, and it’s their job to take him out. In fact players can choose to go face the overlord right from the beginning of the game. Of course, there’s a 99% chance that those who choose this option will fail.
One of the main goals of Arcen Games was to make the game deep but accessible to casual players, and challenging for those hardcore PC gamers. Players can do whatever they wish, and at the same time the game does nudge the player in a specific direction (through subtle hints on tombstones). That said, it’s still completely up to the player to listen to what the computer tells them.
When the game started we were given a handful of characters with base stats to choose from. One of the first things we were told when choosing our character was “don’t get attached to them.” If that character dies then players choose another character who inherits the items and powers of the previous hero – but the original is gone for good. This is similar to Infinity Blade on iOS, where if the main character dies their powers and items are passed on to their descendant. In A Valley Without Wind, a new hero picks up the mantle where the previous hero left off.
The story of the game asserts that reality has shattered and several different time realities are collapsing on each other in this world called Environ. During gameplay players will first take the role of people from a futuristic ice reality. All players start as the same characters from the future ice period during the tutorial phase of the game but other characters from different realities can be unlocked by saving their respective NPCs.
As mentioned before, A Valley Without Wind does have a mining and crafting element. Players can mine certain materials and use them to create new items and spells. The main thing that sets this system apart from that of Minecraft is that all the recipes are in the game menu. All the player has to do is hover over an item to see where that item is most likely to be found – as well as what necessary ingredients will be needed to complete the recipe. This mechanic was included to reduce the amount of time gamers spend researching – and increase the time spent playing the game. One small gripe with Minecraft is that there are so many instances that require the gamer to leave the game and find a wiki to make a particular item, especially when there’s a new update. Arcen Games wanted the players in-game all the time, thus making it easy for players to access info from the menu. Definitely a smart move by the developer.
When players eventually become powerful enough and defeat the overlord of the continent, a new continent (more difficult than the last and with a new overlord) will be generated for exploration. New continents will continue to generate and get harder, however there won’t a point where the levels get unbearably hard.
Another one of the interesting aspects of A Valley Without Wind is how it determines the difficulty of the environment. In a standard 2D adventure game, it’s easier to create a challenge since games of this type are linear – meaning the difficulty is tuned to the specific level the developers want the players to take-on next. In A Valley Without Wind this is difficult to do – since the player can go wherever they want. To remedy this, the developers made the game alter the difficulty based on the playstyle of the gamer. If a player is really good at taking down flying enemies, then flying enemies will become more difficult. The same goes with other enemies players will encounter.
The game can also be tailored to each individual’s playstyle. If the player is really good at taking on platforming puzzles, then they can acquire items that assist them in this aspect. Those who are not so good at jumping and enjoy blasting trash mobs can tailor their characters with high impact spells and abilities.
Since the game basically borrows elements from fan-favorite PC titles, Minecraft and Terraria, A Valley Without Wind is highly recommended for gamers who enjoy customizing their play experience and are looking for a new title to get lost in.
A Valley Without Wind will be available on Steam April 23, 2012.
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