Published on January 12th, 2013 | by Mat Lezama1
Review: A Nation of Wind
Jameson Wilkins’ solo project, “A Nation of Wind” is a charmingly retro real-time strategy game featuring an armed airship set out to protect the floating colonies across a prodigious sky.
As the captain of this great sentinel flying steed there are many responsibilities you must undertake to leading the sky-people to glory. They need protection, they need villages and universities to study and learn about their new homelands. They need jobs harvesting food, collecting wood, or mining steel. All the while you have to worry about your own needs. Food to keep your crew-mates abreast, wood to help them repair the ship, and a whole ton of backup for the roaming beasts above, out for the blood of your under-equipped brethren.
This game is currently free to play on Desura with a full 50 plus levels packed in and an excellent production value.
A Nation of Wind is composed of many levels represented on the world map as floating islands. Each with its own ratio of terrain types and enemy abundance. Once an island is selected a randomly generated map is created and players are set out to build their colonies. Levels are completed by building temples in the designated spots to claim obelisks. The more obelisks the player conquers, the more tenacious the enemies become in destroying the player‘s thriving civilizations.
From the opening intro alone you can see Wilkins’ devotion to his pet project. The presentation from the choice of music to menus is both enticing and concise. The music meshes well with gameplay and the old-school graphics; relaxing and soft, accenting the bright colors and lofty airship strolls across the sky.
The tutorials are well thought out and easy to understand but fall short just before explaining the magic system, giving the player no chance to see them first hand. A supplementary manual is available to read at any time that does explain these abilities as well as what was already cover via tutorial.
First time players may have a slow start collecting the necessary resources. Waiting for new stocks of wood, stone, and food from buildings to go out and build the next important facility, the wait, then build again. While there is the trading post to go to, venturing outward leaves your colony defenseless against attacks. Lulls in waiting mixed with light skirmishes prove entertaining, but the real strategy and management comes when magic is involved.
There is a lot of space to be covered and players cannot easily be everywhere at once. This game is begging for a co-op mode, while there is the wind sprite item, it is only for local co-op setup for the use of controller buttons (unexplained). Nonetheless, the game has a lot of things to take into account. More health means a faster airship speed; resources are used automatically to upkeep the ship’s main functions and ammo; building’s area of influence determine the payload at the dawn of each new day; magic spells you gain are based on your obelisk construction, a very intricate balance to master.
In addition to all of these in-game variables the game features and experience point system that acts as currency to buy your own airship and building upgrades. Hatching phoenix eggs,collecting artifacts, and finishing levels promptly can help increase your end-of-level EXP bonus.
After the obelisks are captured the boss battle is the last obstacle fro each level before it is completed. These battles bring out the finesse in airship control. Conservation of ammo is necessary as you run through it faster than it can recharge, and taking in hits leaves your airship more vulnerable with every unnecessary collision. As an added stress enemies will still spawn and attack you buildings, making it harder to replenish your resources, and manage your colonies as the final battle continues.
A single bug I noticed is that sometime when I collide into a floating rock, or even the isometric world tiles, my ship will continue to stay put, constantly colliding over and over again until all of my health is drained, or at least rendering me completely immobile.
Besides this one bug this game is held back from a perfect score for its lack of an online co-op mode, a few tutorials short of a full lesson, and a few other small problems such as: you can suspend a game already in progress by simply hitting the Esc key in-game and using the quit game option. It is very helpful as levels can take a few hours to complete and yet no where is it advertised. The game’s story does not go far past the intro either, although it is not exactly necessary for this game, it would be a great plus.
Anyone interested int the soundtrack for the game can find a direct link to the composer, ” Saskrotch”, by simply looking up the credits in the main menu. I think this may be a very good practice for indie developers to continue to help the musicians see some extra coin on record sales. An interesting approach indeed.
Wilkins certainly won me over to his side with this very in-depth game, with perhaps more gameplay and strategy I have seen in an Indie title to date. I am excited to convince on of my friend to play with me using the sprite character, (pictured above) and working towards the elemental spheres found in the corners of the world map. I’ve made it a point to tell people this game is free to play, and I await the next installment.
Summary: Conquering floating islands, and protecting newborn civilizations is all in a days work when captain of the airship in this RTS shooter:well paced and full of gameplay hours.