You have a game or two like this, in your mind somewhere. It lurks. You wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a particularly good game, or even your favourite. You might even forget it exists for long periods. But occasionally, perhaps twice a year, or every two or three years, you get an unaccountable craving to play it again.
That’s what A Valley Without Wind is to me.
Arcen released AVWW, a procedurally generated open-world adventure, in 2012, to a largely disappointing reception. Acknowledging player feedback, they put it through major revisions throughout the following months. Barely a year later, they released a sequel that tried putting the same ideas together in a new configuration, and even bundled the two games in together for free, as a gesture to players who were still unsatisfied. I barely touched that one (although I’m listening to its lovely title music right now), but this complicated journey is emblematic of what a strange game A Valley Without Wind is.
Like most of their games, it’s interesting and bold enough to try unusual things. But where, say, Bionic Dues just needed some time and adjustment of habits on the part of the player to show its greatness, Valley never got there for most players. It just didn’t quite come together.
And yet I get a powerful urge to play it every few years, have a solid, comforting time with it for a couple of weeks, and then put it back in its box. I don’t even know why I kinda like it, I just do.