Valley-able Information: A Valley Without Wind 2 Out Now

By Nathan Grayson on February 19th, 2013 at 10:00 am.

Oh, huh. So remember the part where Arcen Games was making a sequel to A Valley Without Wind, in which I very much hope they managed to add wind this time around? Well, it’s out. You can buy it and play it right this very second. Not just one or the other. Both! Unless you purchased the original version of the (perhaps too) tremendously ambitious sidescrolling platformer procedural role-playing co-op adventure – in which case, A Valley Without Wind 2 is completely free. Alternatively, if AVWW 1 (which my brain desperately wants to read as “Alien vs Wind Waker,” because I’ve been doing this job for far too long) flew under your radar, tossing a few of your coins into the sequel’s clinking cup will nab you a free copy of the original. I can’t say for sure yet whether or not AVWW 2′s everything its predecessor wanted to be, but I have to admit that all this generosity’s pretty darn cool.

This one seems to be a bit less freeform than the original, but that might not be such a bad thing. Here’s the basic idea behind what Arcen’s going for:

“Gameplay alternates between two modes that complement each other: brief, tightly-designed platforming segments where your character customization and equipment can be tuned to meet the tactical needs of the current stage; and quick strategic turns on the world map where you order your troops to fight, scavenge, build, recruit, farm, and use special powers. Demonaica and his armies pursue your forces directly on the world map, while his five henchmen have been sent to recapture you in the platforming segments.”

Combat’s also been revamped this time around, imbuing everything (including spells) with mass and other physical properties. Oh, and of course, the art style’s gotten a gigantic facelift, though I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it. Certain areas look absolutely gorgeous, but meshing them with scrolling cardboard cutout backgrounds and stiffly animated characters makes my eyes want to recede into their respective headcaves.

Still though, there are some very, very big ideas underlying AVWW 2, and Arcen’s dedication to its community is undeniable. Unlike many scrappy indies, A Valley Without Wind 2′s actually not without a Steam page, so check it out thereabouts if you’re feeling so inclined.

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38 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    Crimsoneer says:

    I’ve played 10 or so hours, and I’m really enjoying it – far more than AVWW1, that I just couldn’t get into. The strategic game is a lot more intuitive, and the combat is a lot closer to the 16 bit classics. It’s also really gorgeous in places :)

    Also, there is a demo on the Arcen website. Go try it!
    http://www.arcengames.com/w/index.php/valley2-downloads

  2. Premium User Badge

    Joshua says:

    Ooh! The first game managed to fly under my radar in a rather nasty way: I knew it was coming, read lots of stuff about it, and never found out that it actually had been released. I shall certainly check this out.

    After I finish my other gazillion games obv.

  3. pakoito says:

    You’re getting behind in the reviews, RPS, lots of games releases in the past month without it :P

  4. Kitsunin says:

    They really need better character animations. I would go so far as to say in that sense it somehow looks even worse than AVWW1. Nonetheless, I will certainly check out the demo, and if it is indeed better overall than its predecessor, and I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t be, I’ll have to pick it up. The original was pretty decent, judging from the demo, but felt unfocused and slow, which IMO is a much bigger hit to a game that isn’t a great looker.

    • sinister agent says:

      Yeah, I think the lack of structure was a bigger problem in the first game than the animations, and it seems like that’s what they’ve concentrated on fixing.

      That said, they’ve clearly added some enemies other than generic swirly thing #1 and generic swirly thing #2, which should help keep the different areas from feeling like one big, meaningless palette swap.

  5. Syt says:

    So, in a nutshell, this is Actraiser re-imagined for the 2010s?

    • lordfrikk says:

      Only on paper, the reality is, uh, different…

    • dE says:

      In a nutshell, it’s Actraiser, with procedurally generated levels and less tuned combat.
      Since I consider the handmade levels and tightened combat of Actraiser its strongest hallmarks, it’s really not Actraiser.

  6. wodin says:

    That was quick…why of why didn’t they do something with the character art and animations..it was piss poor in the first and is piss poor again. If they’d spent another six months improving that aspect it would have looked so much better..I hate the characters and animations enough to be put off..sad but true.

    • Kitsunin says:

      In their defense, if you don’t have staff that can do quality art, it makes no difference how much time you spend. You won’t get anywhere unless you actually hire some artists, so they’re stuck, since I doubt they can afford or want to go hiring and firing anybody.

      • Premium User Badge

        Crimsoneer says:

        They purposefully hired an entire other studio to do all the art this time around, which is why it looks so much better than the first game.

        • pakoito says:

          Didn’t they crowdfund it?

          • Premium User Badge

            Crimsoneer says:

            Nope. They considered it, but thought it’d be better to invest in the sequel themselves, and offer it free to everybody who bought the first game. I think RPS posted about it at somepoint.

        • Eclipse says:

          it looks much better, but that doesn’t mean it looks good, seems like this new team stayed quite close to the original material in therms of making something as shitty looking as possible

        • Mctittles says:

          Have you seen the studio that did the artwork? Their site looks like a geocities page:

          http://heavycatweb.net/hcs/hcs.html

      • Kitsunin says:

        In response to myself: Having played the demo, I can say that the game looks much better than the original. The trailer made me think it was only marginally improved, but it’s actually quite pretty, or at least not ugly at all, now. The animations do suck, but otherwise it’s nice.

  7. Brosepholis says:

    Nope.

    Won’t get fooled again.

    • malkav11 says:

      …if you bought the original, the only investment involved in checking out AVWW2 is the download, you know.

      • DK says:

        Which still isn’t worth it. This is still incredibly bad. And the clever part is by calling it a SEQUEL instead of an UPDATE, they get the ol’ Arcen “I’m sure they’ll fix it in time” for a second time free instead of realizing that this is their attempt at “fixing it in time”.

        • Kitsunin says:

          Wut. It IS an entirely different game, with some similarities in that the action view (Or whatever it’s called) controls the same as AVWW and the overworld looks ever so slightly similar. Other than that, it isn’t the same at all. Who gives a shit anyways when the game is free to anyone who owns the first game? You can call it an update and imagine it is if you want to be a dick, it’ll be just like a completely game-changing one that requires a separate download. You don’t even have to pay again.

          And it’s not “Incredibly bad” I found that while many of its aspects felt lacking, overall the experience was surprisingly enjoyable. I wouldn’t buy it because I’m not that into the type of game it is, but it was fun for the time I put into its demo.

  8. Murmur says:

    Man, with all the vast improvements over the original, I think the lack of improvement (or maybe even a step backward) with the animations is really going to hold this back. There is a great game here, but I think the majority of people these days are going to be turned off hard as soon as they see the animations. Sad, but I think it’s true.

  9. Trashware says:

    I’m not sure. I might secretly like the quirky graphics (or at least laugh at them) and animation if the game is interesting and the gameplay is smooth enough. Have to check out the demo.

  10. dE says:

    Oh dear, oh dear.
    I recommend everyone to try the Demo. They did some things with the controls that, going by the uberhuge complaint thread, will annoy a lot of people. If you can enjoy the controls though, you’re getting a much more coherent experience than the first one.
    I got it for free, since I bought the first one ages ago, so I don’t want to rant too much. Let’s see, what’s the nicest thing I can say about it, well… I enjoyed it more than the first. And the music is great. Yeh.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      It does have some really nice music, and a lot of the art assets are quite pretty. I think the strategy game also has a lot of potential once you get a few turns in. It’s definitely worth a try to see if you like the feel of the exploration/side scrolling mode.

      Re: the animations, you don’t really notice them when playing due to how fast-paced the game is, and you’re usually focused on your target and the behavior of your attacks (which are much more interesting than in AVWW1), not your character.

      It’s a unique game, there’s nothing else like it that I know of. I do like the game intellectually and have a lot of warm fuzzy feelings for the concept and developer, but I’m just not compelled to actually play it much.

      I dunno, could be it’s just not my kind of game. To the point, I don’t think reviews or impressions from others will help here; just try the demo for yourself.

      • rusty5pork says:

        “Best Title Screen Music Ever” is what I would say. The music is great.

  11. Premium User Badge

    Saul says:

    Wow, that was fast. This game’s been through through more reinventions than Madonna.

  12. Panoptical says:

    This made me appreciate AVWW 1 a lot more (even though I’ve put 15h into it) for some reason.

    I really think they should’ve just made something in a Metroidvania style without the jumping 15 feet ability that AVWW games have.

    After 5 minutes of playing AVWW 2 I fell for probably 5 seconds, and entered a door, Really? It’s just so unimmersive and weird (lazy design?)

    To me this is like Dragon’s Lair (SNES) + Master Chu & The Drunkard Hu (NES) + Fist of the North Star (NES)

  13. malkav11 says:

    In case people care – Arcen promised for a long time that A Valley Without Wind license keys purchased before they got the game on Steam would be registerable on Steam, but they weren’t. I’m not sure when exactly that changed, but it did. You can now add your existing license key and receive both AVWW and AVWW 2 on Steam.

    • KDR_11k says:

      It took months after the release, the problem was AFAIK Steam taking its time to add the keys to its external key list.

  14. The_Great_Skratsby says:

    Was really interested in the first and all the issues and bumps put me off. Was hoping the second was going to turn that around, and I was liking the changes. It’s shame reading the feedback here atm, guess I’ll stay on the fence.

    • goodgimp says:

      There’s a demo, you should try for yourself. I’m really disappointed in the RPS community regarding AVWW2. For whatever reason, it’s just the cool thing to hate on around here. It’s not that there aren’t criticisms that can be made about the game, but most of the people commenting haven’t even tried it.

      Give it a shot yourself. Maybe you’ll hate it, maybe you’ll love it. Maybe it’ll fall somewhere in between. For what it’s worth, AVWW1 gave me eyestrain and I didn’t find it that fun, despite liking Sandboxes. This one I quite enjoy.

      • Kitsunin says:

        Yeah, I don’t get what it is, but people just love to hate on AVWW. I might be wrong, but it seems like loads of people were stupidly negative about the original too.

      • Premium User Badge

        Crimsoneer says:

        I know, right? It’s really sad, because Arcen is a great indie company, who has been really generous here.

      • Brise Bonbons says:

        Agreed entirely; people need to try the demo. The art is still strongly influencing opinions, the game has a very unusual balance of strategy and platforming which makes it hard to recommend (one person might like the strategy but not the platforming, another the opposite, and who can say how much you have to like each to find the whole enjoyable?), and the controls are polarizing.

        There is nothing to really compare the game to, so again, you have to try it yourself. The demo is generous (and a small DL) IIRC, so no reason not to.

      • rusty5pork says:

        That title screen music is awesome.

  15. Urthman says:

    It’s weird. I hated the ugly graphics in the first game, yet also somehow found them compelling and charming at the same time. Like, so bad it’s good, maybe? I kept telling myself, “This is really ugly,” but I also kept playing it.

    • rusty5pork says:

      It’s not quite as ugly this time around and actually legitimately beautiful in some places, especially the background art.