I keep thinking that I really like A Valley Without Wind, but then designer Chris Park overhauls some aspect of it and I realize that, oh, wait, now I really like it. The moment to moment gameplay hasn’t changed much since the game was released. This is still an infinitely large, procedurally generated world that you explore by playing a latter day version of Castlevania. But what’s changing dramatically is the gameplay that pulls you through this infinitely large world.
After the jump, we built this city on rock and role
The latest change, which just went live in version 1.2 today, is a new city building system that moves the city out onto the map and ties it into the role of the survivors in your settlement. Previously, you dropped buildings in the settlement where they loitered in the skybox. That building would then unlock inventory items that gave you a temporary bonus. Basically, buildings enabled minor buffs, which is a pretty underwhelming thing for buildings to do. That’s what potions are for, and Valley Without Wind doesn’t even mess with potions.
But as of version 1.2, buildings are a support structure for the survivors in your settlement. These survivors matter now because you send them on missions to help you gather resources, and eventually you send them on missions to help you fight the main boss on the continent by weakening him. This isn’t without risk. Your survivors might die in the process, at which point you need more survivors. But buildings improve their mood and skill level, raising their efficiency and likelihood of survival. You can even give survivors gifts to make them happier. It’s a bit like a Bioware game, but without the stilted dialogue.
What’s more, buildings are now placed on tiles on the overworld map, with bonuses for putting certain buildings on certain tiles. You want ocean shallows for the aquaurgist’s well, grasslands for the farms, crags for the stonebinder’s tower, that sort of thing. This adds a new dimension to pushing back the harmful wind and securing more territory. More territory means more options for a more efficient city, which means a flourishing community of survivors. Valley Without Wind just got more people-centric.
Other significant changes include the way the story-based unlockables are revealed. These bits of lore were previously so shy I’d never seen a single one. They had something to do with puzzle rooms, which had colored discs in patterns that you had to blah blah blah. I don’t really know how they worked. I stumbled into a few puzzle rooms and then immediately turned around and left, as if I’d just accidently walked in on someone masturbating. Apparently, this was a common reaction, because puzzle rooms are gone. Now the bits of lore are quest rewards, more easily found and collected.
The crafting system has also changed dramatically, partly for how you find the bits and pieces you need to upgrade your spells, which is Valley Without Wind’s closest counterpart to leveling up a character (although that’s also a more explicit part of the game as of version 1.2). The most sure-fire way to get what you need is by cultivating survivors to go out and get it for you. You can still explore, grind, and forage. Valley Without Wind is nothing if not encouraging when it comes to striking out into its infinite depth and breadth. But as you build your city and improve your survivors, you earn the ability to get the resource of your choice with a single click.
The spell upgrades are now different, with the most notable change being that they work like inventory items rather than learned skills. Now you tend to get spells as mission rewards. Previously, you just leveled up your choice of any spell and that spell always worked at an improved level. You still level up spells in version 1.2, but now you also have a higher-level goal of finding special upgrade orbs that add a unique ability to a given copy of spell. For instance, I just got a special orb after killing one of the bosses on my continent. I used it to upgrade my Launch Rock spell, which arcs out a powerful earth magic attack that damages multiple enemies by plowing through them. Now my Launch Rock launches its rock 20% faster, 30% farther, and with a 10% chance of a critical hit. Improving spells with these new upgrade orbs is like crafting unique pieces of gear based on how you want to play your character.
Read more about the changes here.