Platform: Windows PC
Date played: 18-05-2017
Developer: Tasharen Entertainment Inc.
Who would have thought playing a Pirate/Merchant simulator could be so much fun? One could spend hours happily conquering territory or building a great empire of trade and ask themselves afterwards where all that time went. Windward delivers a tailored experience for all players to suit their playstyle and objectives.
Windward launches you, the player, into an initially quiet Open World after setting up your game with a variety of world building settings and faction states. You quickly learn the basics of exploration and movement, though a few more on screen prompts would have been desirable. Your first quests will consist of basic discovery objectives and escort/ferry assignments. At this point you will quickly become bored of your home region and want to set out into the wider world beyond.
Who is there to greet you? Pirates of course. Lots and lots of Pirates. Your basic quests will quickly become more frequently filled with bounties and capture requests from the local villages and towns wanting these pesky raiders dealt with. Your AI companions will be exploring the area in their own vessels as well, capturing settlements, engaging Pirates and enemy factions. Overall, Windward’s style will very much appeal to the slower, casual players who enjoy a game that isn’t as intense or fast paced as a franchise such as Age of Empires.
Windward doesn’t feature any voice acting, nor do the characters even appear in person. It’s all about the world, not the individuals who make it up. This might turn some people away, but I have found that it allows the player to focus more on the organic operations of the game. You aren’t lost and confused thanks to the lack of voice prompts or instructions, and the game will constantly give you hint boxes if it detects that you’re having difficulty with a certain aspect of gameplay.
Gameplay (Combat, Exploration, UI): 8/10
Windward offers an unobtrusive, simply user interface that gives you as much space as possible. Of course, this is easily customisable. Key menus and windows such as your Inventory and Cargo Hold are about as straightforward as it can get, allowing quick exchanges of goods and items if you need to leave port in a hurry.
Exploration in this game is as easy as using the WASD keys to manoeuvre your vessel around the world (trying not to drift ashore and smash your ship to smithereens). Pathways to objectives are marked as a grey line on your screen without worrying about waypoints or hours or searching blindly for your destination. As you continue to travel around the world it continues to expand and offer diverse new environments and structures as if you were on earth itself.
For a top down exploration and empire building game, Windward pleases the eye of the beholder to great extents with high quality shaders and texture effects for all types of weather. The water, being the main focus of this game, is possibly its strongest point in regard to realistic movement and behaviour.
Overall Rating: 8.6/10
Windward promises an expansive open world where players have the choice of what kind of name they make for themselves, and it certainly delivers. It’s a game that you can inadvertently put hours into without even knowing why. A quaint, straightforward game that is kind to new players. The best way to play however, is with friends. Pick it up at Humble Bundle now and help support Mangahelpers!
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Review by WithYouInSpiritWant to earn some free games? Become a news writer!