A Valley With A Demo Version

By Jim Rossignol on April 25th, 2012 at 2:30 pm.


We mentioned just yesterday that Arcen’s open-world side-scroller had appeared on the digital distributions, but since then they’ve also put out a hefty demo. It’s a big old chunk of the game for you to try, with these limitations: “You cannot craft spells higher than tier 2, and you cannot leave the first continent.” I’d definitely recommend trying this – from my time with the beta I’d say that this is both an acquired taste, and also impossible to judge by appearances. Or even, perhaps, from people writing about it. But then I should not be saying that, should I? Send your eyes south of here for the launch trailer.

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44 Comments »

  1. Lambchops says:

    I played the beta for a bit, never clicked with me but I’ve heard there have been a lot of changes so might give it another chance.

    I sense however this is something that will never quite live up to the initial concept and will continue to fail to click with me no matter how much I want it to.

    Arcen are still lovely though!

  2. sinister agent says:

    Gonna give this a go. Arcen seem like a decent lot, and they’ve taken a bit of a gamble with this. Seems like giving it a try is the least I can do. Smart move, releasing the demo now.

  3. NathanH says:

    Let’s see if playing this still makes me feel sick.

    • Bluerps says:

      “Sick” as in “motion sickness” (or something similar), or as in “this is so bad, it’s making me sick” ?

      • Tridae says:

        Looking at that screenshot makes me sick. . . Not too fond of the amateur photoshop collage look they have going

        • Tams80 says:

          I find the aesthetics ‘sickening to’ adn they don’t seem to have changed much since they started development. The amateur Photoshop look is never good.

          It’s a shame as the concept sound interesting, but I just can’t enjoy playing a game that looks like that.

      • NathanH says:

        A bit of both really. The game is a lot better now though, so I don’t think it’s bad any more. The motion still makes my head hurt a bit, but it isn’t too bad any more. I’ll play this some more, it seems all right now. The graphics are still absolutely horrific but they don’t actually cause me too much pain any more so it’s not a big deal.

    • aurens says:

      no game has ever made me feel ill before, but this game does it. nothing meshes together or is prioritized visually. i think it just overloads my head.

  4. Memph says:

    I was really hoping for some more multiplayer Terrariaish (sans digging and building obviously) gameplay from this, but sadly it’s very different, at least that’s my impression from the demo. It suffers from that flash game feel, that I oh so don’t get on with. Animations are stiff and the character doesn’t seem to look or feel like s/he’s part of the world, which itself is quite nice along with the soundtrack, yet there’s this air of bland charmlessness to it. The floaty, lack of any kind of weight to anything feel kills it for me really.

  5. kristian says:

    I’m usually not picky about graphics but this burns my eyes

    • realmenhuntinpacks says:

      Same. Can’t believe I’m hung up on the visuals seeing how interested I was in this way back when but owwwww.

      • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

        This sort of thing is why optometrists exist, you know.

    • Zenicetus says:

      I think it’s possible to hold the view that gameplay is more important than graphics, while still having a personal threshold for bad graphics in a game. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. We all have our limits.

      For me, In this case, it’s not just a subjective opinion about “bad art,” but the way it looks like they just pulled assets from any available source, and randomly threw them together. Visually, it reads like an in-house, story board concept presentation for a game, instead of something you’d try to sell to the public.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      Millions dig Minecraft (c wot i did thar), which I personally find terrifyingly cancer ugly and utterly pointless as an endeavor, yet I had no issues sinking _hours_ into this.

      Its pretty interesting to see how individual all this stuff is, but I am quite frankly a little shocked that not more people had this kind of hate for Minecraft(which, as I just said, I find so much worse visually it is not even funny).

      • Jupiah says:

        The fact that minecraft has about a million graphic mods probably helps. I know that I don’t particularly like the default graphics in minecraft either, but at least it’s consistent. You can tell it was created by the same person and meant to work together, and doesn’t just look like someone grabbed every free art resource they could find and slapped them all together haphazardly.

  6. Brise Bonbons says:

    I’ve been applying myself intensely to liking this game, but it’s not working. AI War has been my go-to crush game for several months now, and is just so smart in every way. I have immense faith in Arcen, and I’m certain AVWW is an incredibly clever, deep game.

    That said, sidescrolling platformer is just about the least exciting genre for them to be working in, for my tastes. This is one of those terrible situations where I feel compelled to support a developer by buying a game that I neither like nor dislike, because I don’t care enough about the genre to even register it.

    ARghghgh. Never know what to do in these scenarios.

    • NathanH says:

      Your purchase is almost certainly practically irrelevant to them, so I recommend saving your money. If you really must, then buy another copy of the game you like and give it to someone who might like it but won’t buy it. That way at least you are registering a sale for a game that you like rather than one you don’t care about.

    • Vinraith says:

      What Nathan said. I own three copies of AI War complete for a reason, and have gifted away several others. I truly hope Arcen find some success with this game but it’s not something I find particularly interesting. The new AI War expansion they’re planning for the end of the year, however, is an automatic purchase (probably several times over) for me.

  7. mondomau says:

    I’m not one to get hung up on the graphics, as long as the art style grabs me – in this case, they are both so all over the place that I get a headache just watching it. The open world element really appeals, so I will keep half an eye on this and hope the aesthetic side takes a turn for the prettier.

  8. MOKKA says:

    Is something wrong with me, when I say that I kind of like the way the game looks? Sure, the animations seem a bit off, but I don’t find the aesthetics as appalling as most other people here.

    • Professor Paul1290 says:

      I don’t find it that troublesome either.

      Oddly enough, most of the reviews and impressions I’ve seen elsewhere so far only briefly mention the graphics, and don’t really make much fuss about it.

    • Gasmask Hero says:

      The graphics aren’t an issue for me. They’re absolutely fine. I’m slightly puzzled, no, very puzzled as to where the negativity is coming from.

  9. DrGonzo says:

    Why are RPS still reporting about this game? Looks horrendous.

    • Mctittles says:

      Because the developer also worked on the very great game A.I. War.

    • trjp says:

      Because if looks were all that mattered (and everyone thought the same) then RPS wouldn’t need to exist, would it?

      If you don’t like how it looks and thus have no interest in it – why did you post a comment? No-one cares that you don’t like it – the fact you don’t like it doesn’t help anyone else decide if they DO like it (wheras people who’ve played it and have more to say than “I DONT LIKE IT WAH WAH WAH” might someone in the right direction).

      Constructive comments or no comments – it should be a manifesto

  10. Kits says:

    Just spent an hour or so with the demo…I guess I’m another who liked the concept but finds the game lacking. A shame really…

  11. jwfiore says:

    Man, I loved AI War, and I really want to support Arcen on this one, but I don’t understand how they could make something this gut-churningly ugly. The combination of mouse position affecting screen position and the weird, not-too-well-done collage art would just make this impossible to look at for too long.

    I’ll give the demo a whirl and see if actually playing it makes a difference, but my hopes are not high.

    • Gasmask Hero says:

      So suddenly I see where the negativity is coming from. The trailer is damn ugly. Let’s get this straight. That trailer doesn’t do the game justice. It seems to be from an earlier release of the game, the viewpoint is wrong…it’s not right.

      I could pass comment on how people should look past the trailer and spend some time with the game…but…why should they? The trailer is what entices them to play the game, even try the demo, and it’s clearly having a negative effect.

  12. Muzman says:

    Every 2d platformer has an uphill climb with me. Even so, I liked the sound of it (and thought the look actually worked better) when it was overhead perspective.
    Of course, I’d probably have nothing to say if I didn’t know that it used to be quite different. One of the complexities of developing a game in public I guess.

  13. Jupiah says:

    Just played through the tutorial in the demo. I dunno, the concepts have potential but the game is just boring. The world feels lifeless, none of the monsters or characters have any personality, the levels are so bizarre looking but not in a good way. The art style is ugly and incredibly inconsistent – what is up with the weird hexagonal grids in the backgrounds of the apartment complexes? The animations are lacking, the monster A.I. is horrible, the game mechanics are not well explained. Constantly pausing the game to juggle through different elemental spells for every monster you see is annoying. And what is the point of making platforming such a huge emphasis in the game and then giving the player the ability to easily create a floating platform anywhere?

    • RegisteredUser says:

      Actually there is a hotkey for swapping inventory lines, default is “R”.
      That way you can make a layout that suits most situations in surrounding A and B.

      I have found Energy Orb and Ice Shard to be sufficient for almost every enemy so far(e.g. Water Espers, Bats, Robots, That Other Round Flying Thing, Sea Worms, etc).

      No need to constantly press pause in this game.

      I will say this – the whole look and feel is something that either clicks or doesn’t. I suspect for me its the first throwback to “those games” since forever. That alone might have helped the first few hours of entertainment.

      I agree though that the feeling of actually doing something or achieving stuff is very hidden/insufficient so far(outside of upgrading health the first two times).

      • Jupiah says:

        That helps, but it’s more than just the elements. Some spells are better at different ranges or against different sized enemies or against slower or faster enemies. But only two of them can be assigned to your mouse! The rest are assigned to hotkeys that you have to take your hand off the movement keys to hit, so no running and gunning with anything but the two on your mouse unless you pause and drag the spells around on your hotkey bar. It’s really annoying – I have 5 buttons on my mouse, let me use them all!

        • wesleyshaver says:

          You can, did you even try? Slots 1-5 on the quickbar correspond to mouse buttons 1-5. No special configuration required. Come on man.

  14. MythArcana says:

    I am patiently awaiting the next AI War expansion which will be out soon.

  15. RegisteredUser says:

    This should mean the demo alone might give you more fun and playtime than various full priced AAA titles(COD, The Darkness 2, etc pp).

    Curious, and ironic.

  16. sinister agent says:

    I’m quite enjoying it so far. Could do with some more animations, but it’s not a big problem so far. Anyone who isn’t sure really ought to just give it a go, I really didn’t think I’d like it, but I have no significant complaints so far. So far.

  17. trjp says:

    I’ve put a tonne of time into the demo and I like it.

    What it really is, is a 2D and much nerdier Depths of Peril – with both games the graphics aren’t anything special but the underlying mechanics are hugely complex and allow for almost infinite customisation and replay.

    If you don’t like how it looks, that’s going to be a tough thing to get past – but if you have a fancy for a 2D RPG with adjustable combat and platforming (separate) difficulties and an almost endless amount of depth to it – I cannot think of another title like AVWW.

    Terraria is closest in concept but I hate Terraria (and Minecrafts) concept that you should read a FAQ to learn how to play/what to do – in AVWW, everything you need to know is available in-game through it’s help, “What to do next”, maps and other features.

    It is horribly complex but we PC types LIKE complex don’t we?

  18. Reefpirate says:

    I don’t know what to make of this game… But I’m pretty sure it’s not ‘liking’ that I feel. I do appreciate them making a demo like this, I just played it for an hour or so. The open world is cool, and they’re doing some really neat stuff with dungeons and node maps, etc. But I just can’t get in to the abstract magic world, and the platforming style they’re using just isn’t for me… And the thought of switching out my left-click spell so damn often between about 50 bagillion other spells that are all kinda the same but not… Sigh, I wanted to like it, I really did!

    • Professor Paul1290 says:

      You don’t need to switch between that many spells in practice

      You’re given a lot of spells because you’re supposed to pick out the few that you really like and stick with them.

      You usually can’t maintain all of them through a given continent so at some point you have to pick out what you want to spend resources maintaining.

  19. pipman3000 says:

    I like how the graphics tie into the premise of the game.

    A world where bronze age people roam the post apocalyptic ruins of the far future, where soldiers in power armor harness ancient magic to battle dinosaurs, a world where 90s shareware poser graphics are used in a modern indie game.

    • pipman3000 says:

      If Arcen decides to add a soundtrack it should be entirely in midi

      • Toberoth says:

        Ouch! What they should really to is mix midi with like, live vocals or something. Just to be consistently inconsistent.

      • RegisteredUser says:

        They’re usign chip tunes already.