My fine friend Alex picked me up a copy of the unusual A Valley Without Wind for my birthday — thank you, good sir! — and I had a brief foray into its strange world this evening. Obviously I haven’t spent that much time playing yet, but it’s certainly been enough for me to determine it’s a game I look forward to exploring further.
AVWW is a procedurally-generated Metroidish platformer with spellcasting, building, collecting and resource management. The concept sees the player taking the role of one of several random (and disposable) characters and exploring a vast 2D world in an effort to take down “The Overlord”.
In order to accomplish this, the player must explore the overworld, find their way into abandoned buildings that are remnants of the “old world” to recover supplies, delve into caves to find gems and other resources, and ultimately build up a settlement and their own power.
As you progress through the game, you acquire new “spell gems” which allow you to cast various magics. You can also upgrade your abilities with various materials and take on missions to provide a sense of “structure”, but otherwise the game is very open and free, and the developers claim that it’s both impossible and impractical to explore every nook and cranny of the randomly-generated world.
The game takes place on a series of 2D maps, with different “rooms” (actually scrolling regions) connected to one another by doorways and cave entrances. Exploring these rooms and the way they’re connected to each other is a key part of the experience. A helpful minimap system helps you figure out where to aim for, where resources are located and where strong boss enemies can be found.
Interesting things come about when the player dies. The game features permadeath of sorts, but the game isn’t over when a character bites it. Instead, the world lives on but the player starts a new character. There’s even the chance to come across the ghost of your old character.
Then there’s a multiplayer option, which I haven’t investigated as yet, but the prospect is intriguing in a Minecraft sort of way — a procedurally generated world with multiple players running around finding resources and killing enemies? Sounds awesome.
There’s an element of the “roguelike” genre about the game, and as regular readers will know, I’m a big fan of that sort of thing. The fact the game has a convincing sense of structure while still being put together almost completely at random is an impressive achievement, and I look forward to seeing if the game manages to maintain a sense of pace and direction throughout. It’s obviously designed to be replayed, too, as there are a wide array of difficulty settings for both the combat and the platforming sections separately.
Further thoughts to follow when I’ve spent a bit more time with the game! (And you can expect more on Nier shortly, too — though this may well be in the form of a Squadron of Shame SquadCast.)