Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
I do love a good RPG, exploring new worlds and fighting back hordes of foes. Taking on a journey that evolves your in-game character and you as a player is something I really enjoy. When an opportunity came through to review Windscape on the Switch I thought I would throw my hat in, I had never heard of it and the trailer had elements that I liked. Fighting, crafting, questing and character evolution. Let's get stuck in.
The plot for Windscape is very thin on the ground really, something has gone wrong with the floating islands and somehow you have been thrown headfirst into the middle of it all. You start off picking some herbs, making a stew and before you know it your firing spells at ghosts. As I said the plot does not really flow properly and is very vague but it serves its purpose I suppose. I just wish I had more drive to do what I was doing and knew why I was doing it.
The game flows and plays like most modern RPG’s really, speak to someone, grab a quest and go and fulfil their wishes. It is all a little bit too generic and basic for my tastes but it was adequate enough. You move through various environments and locales, bowing to random peoples whims, even though you have never met them before. You are rewarded for your time with trinkets and currency to further your questing and go about your merry way.
Mingled in with your questing are a few systems that I quite liked. The game contains a very familiar crafting system that anyone who has played a game in the last 10 years will find very natural. You gather from your surroundings, trees, plants or even downed adversaries. Approach one of the many crafting stations and as long as you have all the pre-requisites you can craft something. Weapons, spells, food and potions. Whatever your heart desires, or more likely what you need for the next part of your journey.
Your crafting stations range from your standard workshop for crafting weapons to a mana compressor to craft spells. You have cooking stations to create meals which are very handy. If you're out on a long quest it's advisable to take a bag full of meals. Meals fill your health over time and are vital to survival. Enemies drop health and it can also be found elsewhere but cooking your own meals is paramount and should be done regularly. The crafting stations are located everywhere so this is never really an issue and as long as you keep topped up on them you will be fine.
The combat system is very rudimentary indeed. You attack with your right hand, block attacks with your left hand and apart from charged attacks and some craftable spells, it does not get any more nuanced than that. It works, don't get me wrong, but a deeper combat system would have made the experience a lot better. Also, the enemies on the other end of your swinging sword acted very strangely during battles. They sometimes stood still, sometimes failed to attack and seemed to lose any animation they have been programmed with. It was very strange.
Scattered through the various lands you visit are save totems. These were very frequent so if you did die, which was very infrequent anyway, you never lost too much of your game time. Also dotted around for your amusement are breakable environmental objects. Barrells, crates and other breakables hold health items, crafting materials and cash to fill your pockets with. There are signposts to help you find your way if you get lost and the world is full of characters, merchants and people who are too lazy to do there own work and want you to do it. Standard RPG fare then.
I had a few issues with the UI in this game, quests would disappear off my screen and quite often quest markers would either disappear from my map or stay on the previously completed step. It was workable though as the quests were never complicated or convoluted in any way. The inventory screens, crafting screens and other UI elements were fine, serviceable and did their job well. I never felt bogged down by menus or screens and apart from the aforementioned issues, the design of the interface was good. Hopefully, the small UI issues can be fixed with a patch in the future.
To mix up the gameplay a little, now and again you were presented with some light puzzle solving. It was very light though, nothing too taxing and easily solvable. It was nice to break up the fetch quests and repetitive combat but they could have been a bit more complex. There were dungeons and other areas to explore, bosses to fight and loot to find. None of this was unique or stood out in any way though unfortunately, it was very generic and bland.
Graphically Windscape was mediocre at best. The character models were very basic, the colour palette very dull and the animation was poor. Especially the animation of the enemies, as I stated earlier, in battle it was like you were fighting shop dummies most of the time. They would float towards you and sometimes not move at all. The areas were rendered and modelled to a reasonable standard but again, it was very generic and none of it stood out at all.
The sound design was probably my favourite part of the game. The soothing piano soundtrack and lighthearted music were beautiful. With the game being very laid back and basic, the soundtrack fits it perfectly. Meandering through the various areas, gathering supplies and listening to the mellow sounds of the music was relaxing. The sound effects were also good, ranging from the clomping of your feet on wooden bridges to the sounds of you working in the workshop, they were all believable and sounded genuine.
I do like to add a performance section at the end of my reviews. No-one likes a broken game, do they? Windscape performed very well. Apart from the aforementioned UI bugs and dodgy animations I had no issues whatsoever. No game breaking bugs, zero crashes, no hitches or frame drops. It all ran well and I have no issues in this department.