Title: Winds of Change
Developer: Tall Tail Studios
Release Date: August 21, 2019
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Tall Tail Studios
Let me preface this review with a statement that I am not a furry, but I’m not here to judge your life choices. However, I do love adventure games. So, what if the cast of a unique looking adventure game are anthropomorphic animals? Well, that shouldn’t impact negatively on a good game.
I felt that my general thoughts of Winds Of Change are that it showcased a decent amount of interesting mechanics and story beats in its trailer. With multiple lead characters and a mechanics to let you see what everyone else is doing when they aren’t in the party sounds like a good time to me. So let’s see where this one goes.
Winds of Change is a point and click adventure game starring an unseen/unnamed protagonist who is a mystical seer in a small village. The seer can receive visions of some kind, at the cost of having any memory during said visions. The player starts in a vision as the village burns, with two members of the ‘rebellion’ trying to help them escape the arsonists. Members of an organization led by ‘the Triumvirate’, whose motives and goals are shrouded in mystery but require the mystical ‘blade of exodus’ to achieve their plots. You set off from your village with some friends in tow, to try and stop the fated vision from coming true.
The gameplay loop is fairly simplistic, as the game also tells its story in a visual novel style. However, there are near-constant breaks at your disposal to explore and investigate the world you pass by, interacting with your teammates in various ways to flesh out what’s going on. All of which is optional as the map almost always shows exactly where you need to go next if you get tired of looking at every nook and cranny on each background CG. I hope you wouldn’t though because the background CGs are glorious to behold.
The aesthetic is quite a marvel to look at and one of the most exciting parts of the game for me was looking at the background art. There’s a serious amount of it and the art is rarely re-used so nearly every area is new and refreshing. The music is also fantastic and I stayed back a while on multiple areas just to keep listening. The character designs may also be good if you’re into that sort of thing, I couldn’t get into them however and often spent time dissociating, and staring at the backgrounds whilst listening to the voice acting.
The character writing is solid, and the title itself has almost consistently good full voice acting (a massive feat and rarity for any English text-heavy game). Despite the fact the player remains entirely unseen and unnamed, you are given all sorts of dialogue options quite often, which incite a whole host of reactions which does at least make me feel like I am there as a player. This also, however, means there are no graphics of characters doing literally anything aside from their basic poses. The title could have used some to bring a sense of shock or tension into scenes that were very much needing it.
As much as the game does seem to stress the importance of interactions, your dialogue options do not appear to impact anything. Which is useful as you won’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing to lock you out of content. Nearly every area gives you the option to ask at least one of your cast members a collection of questions to find out more about them and the world. It is best to regularly ask as much as possible, as not being knowledgeable about parts of the lore will lock you out of certain dialogue options.
This could prove problematic for a run when there are options that can ultimately change the final fate of your party members. On top of this, there is also an alignment system which will net you one of three major endings. To me, however, they felt lackluster, since no matter what I did, the major plot beats will almost always be the same. I do applaud the fact that the major choices aren’t ever stock good or evil, they’re a case of what you think is the best in the situation, morally or otherwise.
The big downer in the game though was the Parallel Chronicle, this was the name of the feature that let the player see the stories of characters who aren’t in the current party. Whilst the writing for all of these are solid, unfortunately, I had assumed it would somehow connect to the player’s abilities as a seer. They were not. When used, the seer’s abilities were implemented fantastically, with a great opening and…. Wait. That was basically it.
The power felt extremely underutilized and ultimately pointless by the end of the second act. Despite the game’s solid writing, it did tire me out. The game states that choices work in mysterious ways and may not impact what you would expect. The sheer fact that I needed to explore everything to even get all my options, only for the game to occasionally go, “ooooh hey betcha didn’t see that coming!” Just makes me tired and stop caring. The writing was simply not good enough for me to overlook it as similar games have.
Winds of Change is a very mixed title to me, with lots of things to praise but just as much to question. If you are a furry though, I would highly recommend picking up the game as it’ll support the devs, future games like it, and you’ll undoubtedly enjoy it far more than I did. I have zero desire to go back to this game any time soon. I might boot it up and just leave it at the title screen though. The soundtrack is really good.
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