A Valley Without Wind & Alden Ridge

By Quintin Smith on October 6th, 2010 at 1:05 pm.

& A Game Without Screenshots.

Ooh, it’s turning out to be a good week for respected PC indie devs announcing enigmatic new projects. Yesterday we had Arcada Mia, and today we hear about two new games from Arcen Games (of Tidalis and AI War fame): A Valley Without Wind and Alden Ridge.

A Valley Without Wind will essentially be a meaty tower defense game, and Alden Ridge sounds like Dead Rising meets Monaco. You want more details? I’ve got more details.

Set during a future ice age, A Valley Without Wind has you defending the last chunk of verdant land on Earth, and it sounds… well, it sounds like a tower defense game from the makers of AI War. As in, there’ll be an emphasis on AI, a huge diversity of content (40 towers, of which you’ll only take a handful into the level in a Plants Vs Zombies stylee) and co-op support. No screenshots as yet, but here’s a piece of concept art scanned straight from the developer’s notebook. Games journalism doesn’t come any more raw than this, gentlemen. Enjoy it. Breathe it in.

So, uh, yes. Alden Ridge sounds pleasingly bizarre. Here’s a screenshot that Arcen promise is from before they had an artist on staff:

A top-down project that Arcen peg as “A game of survival”, it’ll see you completing objectives in areas filled with ravenous zombies that are immune to conventional weaponry, meaning it’s up to you to dispatch them using all the random bits and pieces in the environment. To wit:

Iron tacks, one-tined pitchforks, glass jars full of water, spear walls, scythes, bombs, and grenades. Fire is also an excellent weapon.

It sure is, Arcen Games. It sure is.

But wait! Because sometimes you’ll want to use those items in other ways.

Sometimes a non-lethal tool can be just as effective at furthering your objectives. Set trees on fire with your lantern to kill enemies — or use it to power your hot air balloon. Chop smaller trees with the axe or smash down doors with a sledge hammer (if you don’t have a key). The mirror lets you see invisible enemies, while the whip lets you cross small gaps or stun enemies. Draw enemies away from you with bait, or reveal a hidden path through an obstacle (marsh, lava pit, etc) with the map.

Again, because this is Arcen the game will have co-op, and a focus on content, not to mention zombie flora and fauna. I’m interested, because botching your way through ambitious zombies traps with a friend sounds like a very good time indeed. Are you interested? Let’s be interested together!

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40 Comments »

  1. mlaskus says:

    Very interested!

  2. HexagonalBolts says:

    There’s definitely a pun in that name somewhere, waiting to reveal itself…

    • Quintin Smith says:

      The header was originally A Valley Without Wind (Or Screenshots) and then I found out about Alden Ridge half way through writing it.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      I think he means the lack of wind, in the valley where the sun never shines, coming from the lack of beans. ;)
      Be happy there’s no mud flooding. :P

  3. Definitely Not Quinns says:

    I’m interested, Quinns! Those games sound pretty interesting!

    • Quintin Smith says:

      This struck me as more necessary before someone beat me to saying the games looked interesting.

    • Clovis says:

      I like that Quinns is writing all these articles (hooray for content), but does he also have to write all the comments?? ;-)

    • icupnimpn2 says:

      Saw both of these listed on the Arcen Games site some weeks back when researching their financial troubles, but somehow missed the Alden Ridge screenshots. I’ve come to appreciate the style on display since playing a few hours of Desktop Dungeons. I hope their staff artist doesn’t stray too far.

      Hard to get excited about a defense game though. There isn’t a lot of wind left in that valley. Maybe if it came out two years ago? I don’t want to be cruel to a company that is trying hard to survive, but they seem to have been going for apparently easy cash-ins with a match-3 game (Tidalis) and now a defense game. Tidalis wasn’t the sure hit they thought it would be. I have reservations about A Valley Without Wind. There’s just so much market saturation.

      Zombies, well, they’re a little played out, too. But again, the style of this one is at least different from what I’ve seen on that topic. It doesn’t look grisly, which is nice for me, since I don’t purchase grisly or ultra-violent games. Just personal preference.

    • Jamison Dance says:

      Have you played Tidalis? Yeah, it looks like a match-3 game, but the actual gameplay is pretty unique. I hate match 3 games, and I loved Tidalis.

    • icupnimpn2 says:

      Haven’t played Tidalis. Watched a trailer for it. It really does look like the thinking man’s match 3. But the still images don’t capture much of that, and the theming comes across a little generic. I’m not sure all of the options and endless variations will really appeal to the average match 3 player, who probably likes to clicky clicky and make things glitter and pop.

  4. Wilson says:

    Alden Ridge sounds great. A Valley Without Wind sounds interesting, but it depends on whether it has enough to differentiate it from other Tower Defence games. I bought Defense Grid: The Awakening and enjoyed it a lot, but though I then liked the demo for Immortal Defence it didn’t quite excite me enough to buy it.

  5. malkav11 says:

    Both of these have been announced in very general terms some time ago, but it’s nice to have some details.

  6. SF Legend says:

    It’s “to wit”, not “to whit”

  7. Little Tohya says:

    Are Arcen over their cashflow problems, then?

    These sound interesting and like something I want, but I didn’t really enjoy the AI War demo, and know I don’t have the time to sink into the full thing.

    • mrmud says:

      Pretty sure they aren’t so you should go buy AI war just because.

  8. kupocake says:

    Nautsicaä of the Valley Without Wind?

    • Skurmedel says:

      I would kill for a Nausicäa game… provided it was good of course.

    • Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

      Lets hope there are more references to that brilliant work of Miyazaki.

    • jeremypeel says:

      Try as I might, I really can’t imagine a Nausicaa game – how would you do it?

    • kupocake says:

      I’m always intending to write on that very subject. Or writing at all would be a start.

      It makes a pretty obvious JRPG (right down to the Chocobo-like Horseclaws), though I have the rather epic manga in mind more than the smaller scope of the movie.

      I think you could even make a neat Turn-Based Strategy Game out of the fiction, or at least, the whole idea of the ‘Sea of Corruption’ and the Insects that live there being dangerous and environmentally important maps bizarrely well to Alpha Centauri‘s xenofungus and mindworms!

      Oh, and if you have an MSX emulator, you don’t have to imagine a Nausicaa game. You can experience how utterly terrible it would be for yourself.

  9. CMaster says:

    Have they actually released anything new about these games?
    Because the synopsis here seems very similar to what was on Arcen’s site a month or so ago.

    Not that both ideas don’t sound great and all, because they do.
    Do wonder a little that AVWW could suffer the same fate of Tidalis though, of people not seeing why they should pay for something that has been A) done a million times before (possibly not quite as well) and B) mostly as free webgames. Although I suppose PvZ and Defence Grid seem to have made money at it.

  10. Premium User Badge Lars Westergren says:

    Valley Without Wind: Sounds good.
    Alden Ridge: Oy. Again with the zombies…

  11. Meta says:

    Alden Ridge sure looks a lot like Rogue Survivor, a RL where you have to survive to a zombie invasion in a generated town. Rogue Survivor also features a lot of weapons and achievements.

    • getter77 says:

      The big difference versus Rogue Survivor, well, probably among others….is that Alden Ridge seems to be going for something of a more deliberate world and such versus the other’s random across the board Roguelike sensibilities. I reckon there’s some macro-puzzle aspects to it, perhaps vaguely like in DROD RPG: Tendry’s Tale.

      My bigger question is exactly how Alden Ridge Arcade will differ from Alden Ridge—as that’s far closer calendar with than this pair listed in the rather distant future all told.

  12. Collic says:

    The AI War (unity) 4 betas look to be coming along nicely. I’m hoping once it’s finally out rps will continue their aborted play through. It would be great exposure for Arcen, who seem to need every helping hand these days. What say you rps ?

    • mrmud says:

      yes please.
      Currently doing an AAR of AI war myself for a local forum in order to try and generate some interest.
      RPS should definitely pull their weight.

  13. Mattressi says:

    Both look awesome, keep us posted!

  14. RQH says:

    It seems like they’ve really taken an esoteric approach to naming after the aptly named AI War. Alden Ridge sounds pretty nifty, but nothing about the title says Strategic Zombie-Killing Mayhem. Same for A Valley Without Wind. It’s a very evocative title, but I’m not sure that what it evokes has anything to do with the game. I would see that title, and if I knew nothing of the developer, expect an Ico-style adventure for some reason.

    ‘Course, this is all based on the most cursory of early descriptions. Perhaps there’s more to it than I’m seeing. (And knowing Arcen, I am eager to play both, regardless of their titles.)

  15. sfury says:

    Actually I kinda like the Alden Ridge screenshots. If it delivers all those concepts I wouldn’t mind playing it as it looks now.

    • Web Cole says:

      Yeh, I was pretty much like “I’d play that”

      But I guess that’s what Dwarf Fortress does for ya :P

  16. jeremypeel says:

    Alden Ridge sounds genuinely fantastic. And although Tower defence is a crowded (and already perfected?) field, A Valley Without Wind seems pretty inspired in its title and artwork. Steampunky, mmm.

    Now my position has shifted from upset-about-a-financially-troubled-lovely-indie-but-still-not-really-managing-to-be-arsed-about-AI-Wars to I’m-buying-AI-Wars-to-support-these-great-ideas.

  17. ManicMarvin says:

    The Panzer Dragoon series is very evocative of Nausicaa. Unfortunately, only the rather ropey first one is available on PC.

  18. MadMatty says:

    Sounds goody- i´m interested in more Tower Defense, and the co-op zombie thinghy sounds
    interesting aswell.
    I trust Arcen games a lot more than the big studios nowdays.

  19. Premium User Badge oceanclub says:

    My valley is with wind, but I blame eating too many jellies earlier.

    P.

  20. Premium User Badge Lambchops says:

    Yeah i remember spotting these on Arcen’s site during the financial torubles posting and hoping that we’d actually get to see them.

    Oh and I will take the oppurtunity once again to mention just how good tidalis actually is and that if you’re they type of question who likes this sort of thing done well (ie a fan of Puzzle Quest, Lumines etc.) then it’s a must buy,

    • mrmud says:

      As someone who got tricked into buying puzzle quest and then hated it, im guessing its not for me?

  21. Web Cole says:

    A Valley Without Wind does sound like an adventure game to me. But here’s hoping they do well from both of them :)

  22. Premium User Badge Hodge says:

    I think Alden Ridge is now officially the game I’m most looking forward too.