Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Valley Without Wind Beta Impressions

I am fond of the PC developers Arcen Games, the creators of one of my favorite space games, A.I. War. In A Valley Without Wind, their newest game, Arcen Games has created something unique, raw and incredibly expansive. Much like A.I. War, A Valley Without Wind doesn't have that anything close to the best graphics, but what it lacks in graphics it makes up for with it's depth, length, replayability and bold ideas. A Valley Without Wind (AVWW) is a side scrolling adventure, with some rpg elements like crafting and leveling. The story of AVWW is that the world has been shattered by a cataclysm, leaving few human survivors around the world. You must help the survivors rebuild settlements and defend themselves against the numerous dangerous creatures roaming the world. It is currently in beta with a free demo version and a pre-purchase full access version. The only difference between the demo and full access version is that the demo only let's you level up your settlement to level six, something not easily done.

You start the game in an settlement, with absolutely no idea what to do. Quickly you learn the basic controls and ideas, but the learning curve is quite tough. The gameplay style should be a bit familiar to rpg gamers, it uses a hotkey system of abilities, items and spells; the same kind that many MMORPG's tend to use. You start with little knowledge of the world and what it is you are supposed to doing, but thankfully the starting area is full of allies and a knowledge stone that provides you with thirty or so very useful tips. You do get to choose a character before all of this, selecting between a bunch of different avatars that have different statistics, but the stats mean little to a person who is playing the game for the first time. You learn, through tips, that you can craft items, potions, scrolls and spells. When you craft things it gives the settlement experience. When the settlement levels up you can enter higher level regions, fight stronger enemies and use more powerful spells. The settlement can also gain experience through defeating boss enemies and other ways that I am unaware of but are hinted at.
My randomly generated world map

After you craft a few basic spells the game takes off it's training wheels and let's you out into the intimidatingly large unknown of the world. The main goal it gives you to explore, find items and then return to the settlement. You can also fight bosses who reside in special areas on the world map, but they are impressively hard at the beginning of the game. I spent most of my time going through two areas of the map, checking all the buildings and destroying all enemy spawns. Each region seems to have buildings to explore, which contain most of the items, and on the surface there are enemy spawns that drop essence. The essence is used for settlements, but I haven't been able to upgrade my settlement to the point where it is useful. Each region is full of enemies, enemies who don't drop anything but essence, so it's hard to justify hunting down enemies specifically. At level one there isn't much to find in regions, just potions and enemies, but the higher level the region the greater the rewards, the more to find and the harder the enemies.

This Trailer does a great job of showing off the game quickly

AVWW is a very non-linear game, with so little direction that the learning curve is a bit stressful. The gameplay mechanics are simple, but with so many options due to crafting. The world is so open that it is impressive. It has a day night cycle, different biomes and so much to find. Everything is geared towards leveling up your settlement, a task that seems horribly difficult at the beginning, but I suspect it will get a lot easier once you understand the main sources of experience. I like the game, even at it's beta stage, and I really must delve into quite a bit more. My major concern are the environments and repetition. Many of the building areas I explored got boring fairly quick, which I wouldn't mind if there were more rewards to find. Each region of the map also sports the same type of enemies, so if you intend to explore an entire region than you should expect to fight a large amount of the same types of enemies. AVWW is worth checking out, but it certainly isn't for the casual gamer. The large term goal of the game is very impressive. Even at the state it's in right now you can travel across the world setting up settlements, linking them and saving humanity. Arcen Games is also going to be introducing multiplayer into the beta at some point, hopefully soon. If you are interested I will post some links to download pages and the main website. If you wish to pre-order it, for all the extra features, then you can do so from the main website for $10. Thanks for reading, that's all for this day, but I will be back here writing tomorrow morning. 
Main Website:
Fileplanet DL:

-Written by Sean Cargle


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