A bit like Runescape but with more Wind Waker and fewer runes.
Windscape builds off of a few different concepts. Its core is pretty obviously 3D Zelda. Its combat and perspective appears to take inspiration from the Elder Scrolls franchise. Finally its visual presentation (and perhaps its title) puts one in mind of the classic RPG Runescape. The resulting experience is one brimming with its own unique character brought to life through diverse design. Early in my playthrough, as I arrived at the first town, I distinctly remember commenting to my wife “This game is so damn charming.” That sentiment exemplifies my entire journey with Windscape. While a ways from perfect, Windscape is always charming, and I couldn’t help falling in love with it.
Windscape features a semi-open world. The world is split into multiple continents that unlock as you progress through the story. Once a continent unlocks you’re free to wander the surprisingly vast environment as you please. The primary story quest will take you through multiple dungeons on each continent. While never reaching the complexity of a true 3D Zelda, the dungeons generally each have a unique hook that makes them interesting. They’re fun to explore, with plenty of visual variety and secret areas to uncover.
Windscape is presented in first person, making the world exploration feel a bit like Skyrim. Combat also emulates that classic Bethesda feel very closely. On the bright side, if you’re a fan of that combat you’ll likely love the combat in Windscape. For myself I found combat a bit simplistic, but I can’t say it isn’t functional. Unfortunately, this has the side effect of making many of the boss fights uninteresting. The same goes for any dungeon with a more pronounced combat focus. There just isn’t much variety in combat, and even with multiple weapons it all winds up feeling the same. Progression in your combat abilities in structured around crafting new weapons and armor from supplies gleaned through defeating enemies, finding chests, and of course breaking pots.
The world is full of villages, caves, and side quests, all rendered in a beautiful low-poly art style. You’ll navigate through the story and side quests via a quest system that is generally functional. At times I did notice that I’d come to the end of one story quest with little idea of where to go to start the next one. I little wandering and I could quickly rectify things, but these odd gaps in progression felt more like an oversight than intentional design. On the bright side, wandering in the world of Windscape is fun, and I regularly found myself distracted from the main quest, just to explore my environment. All of this is accompanied by an excellent score by Ruven Wegner that reminded me of GameCube classics. One village theme in particular felt like it could have been taken straight from The Wind Waker.
Windscape is an incredibly ambitious game and developer Dennis Witte deserves a lot of praise for pulling it off as well as he has. While there are certainly areas, such as combat, where things have been kept simple, the vast majority of Windscape represents a thrilling adventure that is simply oozing with charm.