Windscape – What We Think:
Windscape by Magical Sandbox is a Steam Early Access game. It is an open world, first person, action RPG, but it’s more reigned in than games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, offering a more linear and forgiving experience all around.
This build contained a medium-sized group of areas to explore, strung together by linear pathways. Everything from its combat to its crafting is simplified, resulting in a more casual experience.
Now, casual isn’t a bad thing, because I generally enjoyed the game’s simplified nature. The world isn’t intimidating like most modern RPGs with tons of crafting materials and a large, undiscovered map. Instead, it’s easy to jump right in and have fun without having to worry about obligatory side mechanics.
Crafting is simplified and easy: Windscape’s crafting system is inspired by most modern open world games where you can gather materials in your environment. You can mine, cut down trees, harvest plants, and collect materials from defeated animals. In this build, you can craft different weapons and alchemical potions to aid you during battle. Its simplicity works in the game’s favor to make things less tedious and – to me – more fun. For example, I wanted to create a sword via a blacksmith station in the nearest village. The materials to make the sword were easy to obtain. All I had to do was mine a local ore deposit and collect some wood from nearby trees. I didn’t have to worry about leveling up my smithing skill first.
The one area in which I felt the game was overly simplistic was in its combat. When you attack, a couple of sword swipes happen and enemies don’t offer much of a challenge or a whole lot of variety. There is a block button to help aid in your defense, which is very helpful against the more aggressive enemies.
The game’s developers attempt to add variety by letting you hold down the attack button for a stronger attack, but even that doesn’t mix things up as much as it should. Unfortunately, because of this the combat ends up feeling bland and unsatisfying. It’s missing that extra something that would make it more engrossing. Combat in first-person RPGs can be a tricky thing to design; it took Bethesda many tries before their first-person combat felt satisfying.
It’s a Small World After All
The game’s world in this build is not expansive, but when you reach the end of the build, there are hints that the developers aim to expand the world further. The world it contained thus far consisted of three areas: one area was littered with trees and the farm you live in, another area contained a small village where you can interact and obtain quests from the residents, and the last area contained a nice variety of places to visit, including a mine full of bandits and a huge tree you could scale via some steps. The areas in the game felt condensed, but in a good way. I never really get lost and finding my way around the world was less of a chore.
Quests so far were typical, involving obtaining stolen items from bandits or delivering an item to a NPC. Fairly standard stuff for the genre. This current build didn’t have a whole lot to do, but what was there seemed relatively normal. I wish the preview let on whether the finished game will have more varied quests or not.
There were a good variety of enemy designs ranging from spiders to walking rat bandits. The environment was nicely detailed with its purposefully polygonal aesthetic. It reminded me a lot of Minecraft’s simplistic visual design. There was also another instance where their inspirations were clear.
There was a mine that I needed to go into to complete a quest, and it was clearly inspired by The Legend of Zelda series’ dungeons. There were three switches that I needed to find to open a door that led to a boss. And even the boss fight took place in a circular arena, much like in the Zelda games. I didn’t mind this inspiration, because it was fun to play through. Hopefully, the developers will add more areas like this that have some puzzle elements.
I don’t know if this simplicity is going to carry over into the main game, but here, the mechanics helped make the game quick to pick up and understand. I appreciated the fact that the game leans on this philosophy throughout, except in the one area I had an issue with. Windscape looks like it’s shaping up to be a good RPG I could lose myself in.
Windscape is available via Steam.
Watch the trailer for Windscape below: