Before I begin to praise/criticise A Valley Without Wind 2, I would like to bring your attention to the fact if you already bought A Valley Without Wind, then you are able to get A Valley Without Wind 2 completely for free. How’s that for generosity? Nice one Arcen Games.
A Valley Without Wind 2 is a sequel to A Valley Without Wind which I had the recent dis-pleasure of reviewing. Both are by Arcen games and only have just under a year between their release dates (A Valley Without Wind: April 2012, A Valley Without Wind 2: February 2013). The original had potential but had far too much depth without the content to support it, but in such a short time, exactly how much could Arcen improve upon the original A Valley Without Wind? Let’s find out.
Upon starting the game you’re greeted with a simplistic menu which offers you the option of changing two difficulties – combat difficulty and strategic difficulty. So what, easy, normal, hard? No don’t be crazy, that’s far too normal. The game offers you a total of seven combat difficulties and five strategic difficulties. That’s an awful lot of variation, in particular in regards to combat. It’s not clear as to whether this was really necessary but if you’re one of those people who enjoy playing through games on all the different game difficulties then you’re going to have a blast with this, you’re also going to have to be quite the trooper.
Before choosing your character we’re given a little bit of the story to read. The year is 889, a year since reality shattered (the previous game) and the land has become a much darker place due to an evil Lord named Demonacia gaining power. Demonacia and her henchmen have items called Oblivion Crystals that protect them from ever dying. Your story is that you’re a character that was planted into Demonacia’s ranks to gain trust from the inside, you’re part of the resistance. You have now have your own Oblivion Crystal and must lead the resistance to overthrow Demonacia. Nothing hugely original, but this isn’t a game about story, the story is just there as a vehicle for the gameplay. I’m pleased to say that there’s more choices of character in A Valley Without Wind 2 than there was in the original. The characters vary in gender, race and they can be separated by the time periods they are from – The Bronze Age, Time of Magic, Medieval, Pre-Indistrial, Industrial Revoltion (If you listen carefully you can hear the sound of a Steam Punk fan crying) and Contemporary. After choosing your character, you then select their class which are the standard classes in games plus a few unusual aspects here and there, also you can control plants kind of. There’s the Illuminologist class which is basically a fire class, but that does include a fire snake to attack people with which is unusual. Draftlock – based around lightening and fire. Not too much to say about this class. Aquasurgist– Water, of course, including ‘Flying Water Fist’ which temporarily causes enemies at touches to take twice as long to fire ranged attack, plus reduces their movement speed by 75%. Very useful. Then we have the Apothekineticist classt. This uses potions and bombs including ‘Draught Throw’ which does the same as ‘Flying Water Fist’. Finally, we have the Lumbermancer which caught my eyes. This is basically plant based class, it sounds really silly and to be honest it is. But it’s a bit different, it’s rare to see a plant-based class in games like Valley Without Wind 2, so I went with this class. Pluss my character was basically a Steam Punk Poison Ivy which is hot. The attacks include throwing wood and nettles at people, plus hitting with them with Vine Whip. No, Leafy whip. Bulbasaur.
So when you’re finally picked a character and class the game opens up with you stood next to Demonacia who tells you that you’re trained well and you’d ready t become the sixth member of his inner circle. Your character is all ‘Thanks, Dark One.’ Playing it cool. Then Demonicia gives you an Oblivion Crystal and you’re on your merry way as the game starts. You walk to the left and you’ll find one of those bloody gravestones next to a ladder from the first game which gives you the same exact hint that the gravestone next to the ladder did in the first game. Okay, fair enough, kind of lazy but okay. You go down the ladder and you’re lead down into the tutorial which is nice and useful, short and sweet like any good tutorial. You’re met by other members of the resistance who put a little more meat on the bones of the story, find the armoury to replenish your health/practice your skins, then off you go into the big wide world to lead the resistance.
The worlds you travel through which you select from the main map (more on that in a sec) are pretty basic platforming levels. A jump here a kill there. The levels are rather varied – deserts, cities, mountains, plains, jungles and so on. The art is vastly improved in comparison to the previous VWWW – backgrounds aren’t particularly complex but they look nice. The foreground is lovely though as are the enemies. Nothing looks too out of place which is a huge step in the right direction from the first instalment. The only flaw I can find with the visuals/aesthetics is that your character and NPCs just don’t look right, in fact, your character and the NPCs are the only thing in the game that looks out of place which is a shame really. All of the enemies look good and vary from world to world which is a good change of pace, for example, in desert levels you will come across a Sphinx whereas in other levels you will fight robotic fish, dragons and dinosaurs etc. The controls are fluid. Players have the option to use a keyboard and mouse or a controller of their choice. After trying both a keyboard/mouse and an xbox 360 controller the conclusion is that both work just fine, it’s completely up to personal preference. I personally found aiming really difficult using a keyboard and mouse due living and breathing consoles until the past 2 years of my life, so I switched to a controller and had no problems at all bar the jumping not feeling as controlled. Overall the platforming aspect of A Valley Without Wind 2 is spot on, a vast improvement on the previous game.
Now, in between platforming the player will be in charge of the overworld map which is divided up into squares with Demonacia’s castle in the middle. Every few turns (a turn ends after you’ve completed a platforming level) some of Demonica’s henchmen come out to play. The players job is to move members of the rebellion away from the castle whilst having them build structures such as hospitals or farm for food/scrap metal. A lot of the map is blacked out (think Advance Wars fog levels) thus meaning you can’t move the rebellion further away from the castle. How do you light up the black squares? By selecting the squares and exploring them, the squares are the levels which you must explore. At the end of each level the player will return to the map and get an update about how the rebellion/Demonacia’s henchmen are doing and act accordingly on the map. There is a nice balance between the levels and the world map – the levels aren’t so long you get frustrated and look forward to returning to the map, and the map isn’t so complex you just rush through try get to the levels. The balance is perfect and the strategy aspect of the game is interesting. A Valley Without Wind 2 is a very addictive game when you get the hang of it, which won’t take long as the learning curve is spot on. If you want to have your hand held you can, if you want to be left to figure it out yourself you can.
A Valley Without Wind 2 is a huge improvement on A Valley Without Wind. Balanced and will times game play, interesting levels with an array of enemies and a wonderful strategic element thrown in with good old fashioned simple platforming. If you enjoy retro Metroidvania based games and strategic Advance Wars type games then this game is for you. It’s a mere £9.49 for both games at the moment . Sure, 1 isn’t the great, but if you play 1 first then you’ll appreciate the second instalment a whole lot more. £9.49 is worth it for A Valley Without Wind 2 by itself, A Valley Without Wind is just thrown in there as a good will gesture. But this game, it’s damn good.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.