It has to be said, Magic Sandbox must’ve had some big cohones when he (yes, this is a one-man group) decided on the graphical settings Because let’s be honest. At first glance this doesn’t really look it would suit in 2019 but rather would’ve been perfect in the 1990s. But, here we are. In the present, and here I am… Reviewing their game called Windscape. You play as a farmer’s daughter who is hell-bent into exploring the world, doing chores for the people all around her. This could be gathering items, clearing out places or just flat out killing some creepy ghouls. Will this be a journey that I would recommend everyone into doing? Or will I rather just say to stick to your homely house? Sharpen your pickaxes, gather your sword and shield and prepare yourself, because boys and girls, this is Windscape!
- Beautiful settings: Sure the engine might look outdated, but it looks way better when playing the game rather than just watching gameplay. Okay, you’ll have to adjust to the “downgrade” as we are getting treated to a lot of eye candy as of late when it comes down to the newer games that are being released. But let this not detract from the gorgeous surroundings that Windscape still has to offer you. Now don’t go expecting mirror reflections in water or anything. But rather just enjoy the calm and colorful palette that Magic Sandbox decided to use. It took a lot of gusto to make such a daring move, but in this case, I am glad he did. Because this really is a unique little gemstone that will give you, visually at least, a unique experience.
- Relaxing Soundtrack: I loved Windscape’s soundtrack and soundscape. Nothing pleases me more than a game that has a good sound environment. Well, worry not! Because you’ll be able to give your ears a bit of enjoyment while rummaging around the fields and forests that this game has to offer.
- Simplistic and intuitive: For everyone that doesn’t want to crunch numbers, create excel sheets as to keep track of equipment, damage charts and which combination would suit better in this or that kind of setting? Rejoice, because Windscape boils down everything so some simple and easy to read statistics. The crafting is barebone and straightforward. Gather X amount of Metal and Y amount of wood, for example, and you’ve got yourself item Z that does EFFECT A. No over-complicated items or level requirements in here, just pure and no-brainer crafting. A bit like Minecraft was in its hay-days.
- No real threat: You’ll quickly come to notice that the fighting parts are just put in for a bit of variety in the gameplay. With healing items doing a lot of work on your health bar and having quite a few healing stations along the way, you’ll never really feel like you’ve got to dodge a few of the battles. It wouldn’t have been a bad choice to remove some of the healing stations, which also serve as saving spots. Okay sure, it might have made Windscape feel a bit more harsh to play. But would that really be such a bad thing? It’s not as is the fights are hard in the first place (more on this a bit later in the review).
- Glitches get Stitches: It pained me to see that a few of the quests didn’t auto resume. For example, there’s a quest that has you going into a mine to murder the thieves that have taken root there. The Quest indicator tells you where it is and upon entering the mines it went away. So I thought OKAY I’m at the right place. I cleared the thing and upon exiting, the quest indicator popped up again. But instead of “return to…” it said, “enter the mines and clear out the thief infestation”. The quest HAD completed. But the text was still there including the indicator. Thank god I still remembered how I got there, otherwise, it would’ve taken a bit of exploring to find the quest giver… There are invisible pixels as well where you can get stuck on. Forcing you to jump over emptiness just to proceed… It’s these kinds of bugs and glitches that made me feel really sad, and bad.
- Big nothingness: I don’t know if it was how I experienced it? But there’s a lot of open space in here. Sure you can go farming for items so you can craft your food and armory. But, even with all that you’ll still feel like this is an empty world void of a lot of life. I would’ve enjoyed a bit more interaction and happenings. But oh well, this is just a little speedbump to get over and which becomes quickly forgotten if you just enjoy the scenery.
- Fighting!: I think that the fighting in this game is by far the worst that I’ve seen in this game. You can’t even call it fighting… If you want to take little to no damage, like, AT ALL? You’ll just have to hit them while walking in a circle around them. No need to block, no need to strategize. Just go left, or right. Or if you’re feeling adventurous go left and THEN right (mindf*ck them people!). I don’t know if this was done because of a time constraint or just plain uninspired hacking and slashing. But this is really one of the worst mechanics the game has to offer and takes away quite a bit of the joy. Pair that with an ever-present healing totem that can be found every 50 meters or so (exaggeration but you get the drift) and healing items that heal quite a bit of your taken damage? And you’ve got yourself the recipe for a very boring fight, and an almost non-existent fear of dying. If the developer ever sees the need to patch the game? One of my only hopes for Windscape will be that the entire fighting system will get overhauled. Because in its current state, it feels like a drab walking simulator…
★ Score: 68%
When it comes down to it? Windscape will leave you with 2 kinds of feelings. The first one is a sort of joy that you can’t put a finger on as to where it came from. It leaves with you with a sense of wonder, knowing that this was created by one guy. On the other hand, you won’t be able to shake that feeling that it could have been more… A bit more refined. But I got to applaud Magic Sandbox for what he put down in here and I truly hope that whatever project he sets his mind to next? Will get the same sort of passion that he put down in this one. Indies should be given a chance when they deserve it, and I’ll happily play the next game, if any, would come out of that think tank!
Developer: Magic Sandbox Publisher: Headup Games
Played on: Xbox One X Also available on: PS4 – Switch and PC
Alexis was dancing circles around enemies for around 4 and a half hours.
Achievement difficulty for 1000 Gamerscore: Unlocking everything could take up to 15 hours.
Perfect for: Anyone that wants to play something relaxing.
Xbox Game Store link: Click here