A Valley Without Wind – a 2D sidescrolling game released by Arcen Games, best known for releasing the AI War series (Fleet Command, The Zenith Remnant, Light of Spire, Ancient Shadows etc). A Valley Without Wind was originally released in 2012 which was surprising, it’s not obvious that A Valley Without Wind is a recent game either visually. However the game doesn’t look that bad, it just doesn’t look new. Rather hastily thrown together – not much seems to fit. There are many games out there that are meant to look old but it’s obvious they are fairly new, for example, Scott Pilgramm VS The World, some aspects of the BIT TRIP. Series etc. A Valley Without Wind isn’t one of these types of games either, it simply just doesn’t look so fresh. But there’s more to a game than aesthetics, does the rest of the game have the capability to peak its audience’s interest?
The story goes that you are currently in a world which is suffering the aftermath of a mysterious cataclysm that has caused the world to become cluttered with monsters and you’ll be going in and out of different time periods. That certainly sounds fun but if narrative is your main motivation to play a game then you will be disappointed – you will be finding secret puzzle rooms which will reward you with small snippets of the story along with going into rooms, killing enemies (or destroying plant life), picking up what they drop and that’s about it. If you’re the type of person that enjoys this sort of thing then have at it, you will love A Valley Without Wind. However, it’s repetitive and eventually you will find no need for the items you pick up. You can build some structures from the items you pick up, for example, wooden planks to help you get over acidic liquid. There are also lots of spells to find and pick up but as with most games players are likely just going to find one or two that is suitable to them and spam the hell out of it. The character you have the dis-pleasure of playing just trundles about. There’s nothing smooth about the movement in the game, everything looks like it shout feel a bit heavier but actually plays lightly, like everything else, it just doesn’t seem to fit in this world. However, the controls are decent.
It is obvious that A Valley Without Wind was influenced by the likes of Metroid and Castlevania but it has the charm and immersion of neither. Once you’re dropped into the game you will find gravestones to stand next to which hint at the player about what they should do and you’re left to have a bit of a play about with the controls. This doesn’t particularly feel right straight from the start. Aesthetically as I mentioned before the world looks weird and thrown together, the gravestone tutorial aspect doesn’t feel right. As soon as the player enters the game they may feel lost, and not in an isolating this is fantastically gripping sort of way, more of a I don’t feel right in this world sort of way. Remember playing through games such as Metroid and Castlevania and feeling part immersed in that world, despite the worlds themselves being completely unrealistic and unbelievable? This is one aspect of A Valley Without Wind that completely fell flat. It may seem unfair to compare a game to such classics, but it does seem like a large world that sucks the player in is what the game was aiming for, alas, no cigar. Saying that, if you like to explore worlds whether they’re immersive or not then you are likely to enjoy A Valley Without Wind.
Honestly it’s hard to find many positives about A Valley Without Wind – sure, the negatives aren’t really too bad, but the stuff that is nice such as the controls aren’t really that good either. A Valley Without Wind tries, it tries really hard, but this is the problem. It’s a little too ambitious in what it sets out to do – an epic story which has the potential to be interesting but takes a lot of repetitive gameplay to discover – is it really a good enough pay off? A game that offers exploration but not much variety and even little immersion. It offers a variety of spells but not a variety of uses. Plus aesthetics and a character that simply just look out of place and unpolished. A Valley Without Wind is a game with lots of empty depth – it has the room and starting blocks for something complex and interesting, but too much was put into the game and it all just feels like filler. There are hours and hours worth of gameplay in A Valley Without Wind, it’s just a shame that players won’t be able to experience the whole thing before stone-cold boredom sets in. Overall, an okay game. Nothing particularly good about it, but nothing particularly offensive either. High aspirations, not so high outcome.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.