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Windscape review for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One


Platform: Switch
Also on: PC, Xbox One
Publisher: Headup Games
Developer: Magic Sandbox
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: T

Even though I’ve never been able to get into The Legend of Zelda, I’ve long had a weird weakness for Zelda-like games. I adored Oceanhorn, and I loved Yonder so much, I reviewed it twice.

So you’d think that a game like Windscape would be right up my alley, right? I mean, it’s first-person, which puts it a little closer to, say, Skyrim than to Zelda, but between the cartoon-y art style and the focus on adventure and quests over gritty fantasy means it’s not too far from what you’d get from a game featuring Link & co.

The problem is, Windscape just isn’t very good, nor is it particularly interesting. Also, it’s incredibly ugly.

Let’s start with the looks. Or, I suppose, the lack thereof, because, as I just said, this game isn’t very nice to look at. Basically, imagine Wind Waker, but designed by someone with not much in the way of talent, and drawn by someone who only had a vague idea of what people look like. At best, the characters here look vaguely human, if weirdly lacking in features. More often, they look humanoid, in that they’re shaped kind of like humans, only horribly wrong. This is kind of acceptable, since it’s a fantasy game, but that doesn’t make some of the creatures here any less disturbing to look at.

This might be easier to take if the gameplay itself was something special. Instead, it’s essentially a series of fetch quests, punctuated by combat that could be charitably described as uninspired. You walk around the world, and whenever you encounter an enemy, you just keep whacking it until it vanishes. You can craft your weapon so it’s a little stronger, and you occasionally face off against bosses which require even more whacking than usual, but almost everything you’ll do in this game is revealed in the first couple of minutes, when your parents send you off to deliver something and you encounter some agree bees (whack, whack, whack) and goat-like creatures (whack, whack, whack) along the way.

I hate being too negative about Windscape, since it’s not like it was designed by a huge team or anything. It’s the work of some people who, I assume, wanted to make their own Skyrim or Zelda, and there’s nothing wrong with shooting so high. The thing is, as I said up top, there are other indie games that have aimed for that too, and they’ve shown that it’s quite possible to emulate the spirit of Skyrim and Zelda without having anything close to their budgets. So when I say that Windscape falls short, I mean that it falls short of the likes of Yonder and Oceanhorn too. Given that those games exist, you’re much better off playing them than even thinking about this.

Headup Games provided us with a Windscape Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: C-