Windforge creates a large world full of treasure, temples, sky whales and bandits, but searching for those moments is long and difficult.
Snowed In Studios’ Windforge first hit Steam Greenlight about two years ago, and was explained as the love child between Contra and Minecraft. In order to fund the last phase of development the team turned to Kickstarter, and with the help of 700 backers, they got their chance.
The world of Windforge, Cordeus, is entrenched in a beautiful steampunk atmosphere; from the look of the customizable characters to the whale oil economy, and earnestly pulls the aesthetic off. Cordeus has fallen on some hard times due to their over-poaching of the sky whales, and the pursuit of other technologies are outlawed by the government. As a butcher, sailor, prospector or merchant, you uncover the secrets of the Aetherkin, an ancient race, who knew of another source of energy.
Everything in Cordeus is open to creation, destruction and customization. Character class choice is not as important as your choices with the air ship, which is the main mode of transportation in Windforge’s sprawling procedurally generated world. However, the world is too big and takes too long to get from point-to-point, especially since there are loading screens that separate the areas.
Windforge provides a lot of tools in order for the combat to run as smoothly as possible. The WSDA and mouse combination work for control when building an air ship or mining for resources, but fall apart in the combat scenarios. Switching between guns and keeping an eye on ammo is difficult and leads to a very steep difficulty curve, both underground and in the skies. When the shooting works, it is in small doses and feels more like glitching the game in your favor than a real achievement.
Windforge is not a full game. There are far too many bugs, such as a save corruption bug that personally plagued my progress. Character customization ultimately doesn’t mean anything because there is no online component in order to show off your cool loot grabs. The surface of Windforge is appealing – making an overused theme seem new thanks to the graphics – and the music fits the mystical, mysterious world, but there is not enough underneath. The game brings new ideas to this forming genre, and the intention is palpable, but falls short on execution.
Windforge was released on March 11th, 2014 for $14.99 on Steam, Humble Store, GoG.com and Desura.