Windlands works in large part because it was built with virtual reality in mind, and it shows in the title's overall execution. The sense of movement creates some truly awesome moments and the visuals are bright, crisp and engaging. Things are not perfect by any means, but by and large Windlands manages to move past its flaws and creates a quality Oculus Rift experience.
I call Windlands an experience, because it has a very relaxed approach. What I mean by that is there are objectives - you can find collectables along the way and they give you some additional purpose as you explore, but with a somewhat thin story, Windands is really all about exploration. Some of the areas are designed in such a way that progress has a puzzle-like feel to them, but they serve as a challenge, not some specific goal that must be conquered in order to progress.
The visuals are not a technical masterpiece, with textures that lack detail and there is not an abundance of background movement. That said, the colors are incredibly pleasing to the eye and the level designs look good. It is easy to be moving along quickly and know what is what - there should not be any visual confusion along the way and the simple but varied colors help to enhance Windlands' calm, almost Zen-like feeling during play.
As is often the case with these types of games on Oculus where there is a lot of movement and your head's position can be adjusted by using the right analog stick on the controller, Windlands can be a pretty intense experience. I think it holds up better than more claustrophobic titles like Dreadhalls, which suffered from repetitive tiles and cramped corridors that limited your line of sight, but Windlands can still make me a little uneasy after extended periods of play. By extended, I mean a couple of hours, not five or ten minutes, so while the movement can cause some unease after a time, I have experienced far more intense.
The primary benefit of Windlands is the movement. With a first person view and a grappling mechanic that rather made me ache for a virtual reality Spider-man game right now, exploration is a treat. It was less about advancing the admittedly shallow story and finding collectibles along the way is neat, but seldom my true reason for playing. Instead I was exploring. I was searching out for some of the highest, most amazing looking vistas that Windlands has to offer, and there are quite a few of them worth seeing.
Windlands is clearly an 'early' VR title still, with some control clunkiness at times and it still wrestles with the potential for VR sickness, though it was not nearly as bad as some others I have played - likely due to its more open environments. While it is clear that Windlands had virtual reality in mind when it was made, you can play it as a standard title as well. I suspect however, it would be a far more average experience in that instance. Sailing through the air using grappling hooks and finding awesome vantage points is considerably more immersive with the Oculus. If you have an option to play it with virtual reality, Wiindlands is a better experience that way. The 'oh wow' moments certainly pop more and they help to elevate Windlands into an experience worth trying.
PC - Oculus Rift
Psytec Games Ltd.
Psytec Games Ltd.
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Article by Nick