Review: Windward (PC)

windwardDeveloper: Tasharen Entertainment Inc.
Publisher: Tasharen Entertainment Inc.
Genre: Open World RPG
Price: $14.99
In today’s current state of gaming, innovation and variety are important to gamers, yet unfortunately it is few and far between. If anything, some major developers are a little skeptical about branching out and trying something new because of the the poor sales of different and innovative games. If we compare the success of Psychonauts to Super Mario Bros. Wii, sadly the numbers just do not stack up. Does that make Psychonauts a bad game? Of course not. It just means that gamers, just like everyone else, like to stick to things that they are used to. This is one of the many reasons that I’m grateful for Steam. It gives developers that like to think outside of the box a chance to have their game published in an environment that will showcase their game instead of having it put on the back burner like some major companies would be a little reluctant to do. That, of course is a good thing when it comes to games like Windward.

Story

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As a procedurally generated sandbox game, Windward does not have a set story. Instead, you can play as four different factions: Sojourn, Consulate, Valiant and Exchange, all with their own abilities and playing style. Each faction also brings a different perspective to the game. If you want to play the game with a sense of exploration, you can play as the blue-sailed Sojourn. If you like to barter and exchange with different towns, you can play as the yellow-sailed Exchange. If you want to help your friends and provide support, sail the green flag and play as the Consulate. As you discover more locations, fight off pirates and run quests, you gain experience and ability points to add more stability to your ship, upgrade your defense and offense, and eventually save up enough to purchase better ships. Most quests involve discovering other ports and running supplies to them, but as the game progresses, you will receive quests to hunt down pirates and reclaim the ports and towns that have been occupied by said scallywags. You can even customize your crew and captains to add to your ship’s durability and defense. Special abilities range from everything to specialized cannon shots to ways to make new paths in the water, like being able to blow up smaller parts of land to create your own way to new towns for you and your crew.

Content Warning

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There is very little dialog in Windward, just some mostly friendly hellos in passing of allied ships. When fighting with pirates, they will give an occasional stereotypical pirate bark or two. A couple of “Hornswagglers!” here and there, but nothing to worry about in the sense of profanity and offensive material. There is a lot of combat in the game, as that is its focal point. When you defeat a ship, it blows up and you can watch it sink to the bottom of the sea, but it is not in a grisly manner. You simply see the boat flipped bottom up and it slowly sinks.

Gameplay

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Windward is an RPG in the sense that you can level up and gain new abilities for your ship, but that is about all of the “RPG feel” it has. When you first start the game, the sense of exploration and adventure is fresh and fun, but unfortunately it becomes very repetitive very quickly. Starting off, you only have two cargo slots, which means that you are only able to do two quests at a time so it makes leveling up a little bit of a hassle at first, but after taking some time and leveling up or buying a new ship, those slots can be expanded. The map is set up so the first few screens are controlled by your faction and you do not have to worry about the pirate threat. However, if you decide to wander off of those few screens and run into pirates before you are ready,you will go down rather quickly.
Windward has a pretty standard leveling system. Most abilities that you can acquire are your regular abilities: add more defense or attack, increase speed, and improve your handling, but customization is the one thing that stuck out to me almost more than anything. Being able to change your ship to better  its defense and offense is one thing, but what really sticks out to me is that you are able to change your crew and captain. You can buy a new crew and captain in ports or towns or find them by defeating enemy ships. This feature makes the game feel a little more personal. You are able to make your perfect ship right down to the last detail, even changing the design and color of your flag to really make the ship feel like it should be sitting down at your local docks, waiting for you to jump on board.
The biggest complaint I have is that the AI can be downright frustrating. I cannot tell you how many times I have been left high and dry by my allies for no particular reason. After a while, you will start to encounter multiple pirate ships at once, so the more allies beside you, the better. However, most of the time the AI decides that it will help you with only one and then run away. There have been many times where I have had to reload my last save because the friendly AI decided to tuck it’s tail and run.  
The controls to Windward are very simple. You can use the arrow keys to maneuver your vessel, or simply hold down your mouse button to get where you need to go. The combat can be a little annoying at first because your ship has to be facing sideways for your cannons to fire, but the more you play the easier that becomes to get used to.

Presentation

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The graphics are nothing phenomenal in Windward, but it is still a good looking game. Being procedurally generated is most definitely a plus, as it is able to put a lot of content into a smaller space, which is good for your PC. The soundtrack does leave something to be desired, as it feels like you are listening to same song over and over again.

Conclusion

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There really needs to be more games like Windward. Although it is not the first of it’s kind, it is a nice breath of fresh air in games today. You might have seen some of the same features in other games, but Windward is not afraid to stick out as an open world game. Windward is a fun game, more fun to play with friends and it should be played at least once.

The Bottom Line

 

 

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Phil Goins

Phil Goins has been a Christian for over fifteen years and a geek his whole life. When he's not reviewing video games, he plays guitar for his church worship team, makes YouTube videos, delivers newspapers, or is spending time with his beautiful wife Misti and their four legged baby Momo.

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