Welcome back to the fantasy world of Alestia! It’s been a while since I’ve talked about Klace’s new visual novel game, Winds of Change, and thanks to it entering Early Access on Steam I’ve been able to purchase the game and experience it for myself, finally – or at least, what’s available to experience, as the game’s not complete as of now.
So let’s dive back into the world of Alestia and see just how Winds of Change operates. For those of you that missed the first talk about this game, don’t worry! I’ll be going over practically all aspects of the game so you’ll be able to easily get up to speed.
Winds of Change is centered around a conflict between two factions: The Triumvirate, a mysterious organization that rules over Alestia, and even claims to be its creators; and The Rebellion, a faction born out of resistance to The Triumvirate’s often tyrannical ways, the tipping point being the brutal and violent occupation of the harbor nation, Mazeo.
Players take on the role of a Seer – or Seeress for you female gendered players – who hails from the nation of Valinorth. Seers are powerful characters who receive a good chunk of power from Alestia’s spirits which enable them to receive cryptic visions, and it’s a vision of Valinorth being attacked by the Triumvirate that sees you thrust into the conflict.
But you are not alone, as your scribe, Valessa, and your mutual friend, Fortaime, tag along with you on this adventure. You will eventually join up with The Rebellion and learn to use a magic sword, The Blade of Exodus, to help them take down the Triumvirate…or at least, that’s how Rebellion leader Damek hopes things will go.
The plot is pretty exciting, and seems more fast moving than Klace’s previous game, Major\Minor, so those looking for something a little more…lively will find plenty to like here. I like how The Seer is fleshed out as well – true you ultimately fill in for their personality and choices, but I like how they have something of an established history with Valinorth and Fortaime and Valessa. Helps give you more grounding for a role to fill in.
Characters seem fleshed out enough, with some having layers that might not be evident at first, or reasonable motivations for why they do things – Pro is just more than someone who’s a conman, for instance – and you’ll be in for a few good tear-jerking and heartfelt moments. Just wait until the dating scenes or when you hear about Fortaime’s nightmare, provided you make the right choices to get to those scenes.
Not only that, but there seems to be a lot of intriguing twists and turns up ahead, and Act 3, which as of this writing isn’t out yet, is said to be the chapter where things really rev into high gear.
The music, on so far, is amazing. Fox Amoore once again provides the main theme, which starts out calm enough, but soon goes into a full-on orchestral piece that invokes an otherworldly sense that helps transport you into a fantasy world. What more is there to ask for? Well, there’s also Joel Stuedler’s original score – that was recorded by a live orchestra – that also contributes to this great fantasy world. It’s nice that a lot of the tracks not only conjure up a fantasy world, but different aspects of one. The Tavern Theme has a great ye olde fantasy party feel to it, and when you parade around the streets of Mazeo there’s an accordion-led piece that brings to mind adventure in the high seas – suitable, as there’s loads of pirates that operate in Mazeo.
There’s some interesting themes going on with the music too – supposedly the theme for The Triumvirate is a reverse of the theme for The Seer. Hmmmm…two sides of the same coin, perhaps?
Speaking of audio aspects, the voice acting is really top notch. It helps add another layer to these characters as you can get more of a handle of who they are by how they talk. Even voice actors tasked with two characters – Sean Chiplock provides the voice of both Sovy and Pro for example – manage to pull them off great and create two distinct personalities.
My only major problem is that there are some inconsistencies: on a careful listen, you can tell that some of these voices were recorded in different setups than others. Just listen to a scene where Zamira and another character are talking. It’s not too jarring, but it’s definitely something you might notice.
As far as game play goes, it’s still a visual novel at the end of the day, so game play’s going to remain relatively basic. Though, there are some elements that give more control and action to the player. You can freely roam from one location to another once it’s visited, though we’ve yet to see if certain plot advancements will restrict your ability to revisit certain places or not. Most areas you visit will activate a point-and-click mode where you can click on background objects to get your own thoughts, or occasionally have one or more party members chime in.
Most areas will also have one or more books you can find that will reveal more about the world of Alestia, and some may even increase your knowledge in various subjects that can affect future interactions. The other neat thing about books is that there’s a handy Library in Rebel HQ that you can use to check out any previously read book – take that backtracking! Speaking of Rebel HQ we also have the War Room…but unfortunately, as of this writing that part is not available…yet.
Oftentimes you can also chat with one or more party members, but we’ll dig deeper into interactions with them later as there’s four major ways to interact: regular conversations, Party Banters, Parallel Chronicles, and Heart-To-Heart. As expected, you will also have to make some serious choices about things, so get used to being put on the spot.
Speaking of choices, there’s various stats that are affected by your choices as well. After you meet Damek in Mazeo “Party Morale” is unlocked as a stat, and begins at 90%, with the game hinting that certain choices may influence morale, and keeping it up is vital to helping the Rebellion succeed. Then there’s Purity and Corruption, both of which are affected by major choices. But as mentioned in the previous article, the game doesn’t tell you until after the consequences are felt…or until you check the save or map screen.
P&C choices can affect other things as well – we’ve already seen one early choice affect a Party Banter scene. P&C is also not on a sliding scale, so you can earn points in both sides. Both sides will also carry some baggage with it, so fully going “Purity” doesn’t mean it’s quite the good guy route you might think it is. And some choices might catch you off guard with what stat they increase.
Winds of Change has also switched to using the Renpy engine, which adds a bunch of neat features like saving and loading on command, quick saving and loading, auto scrolling text, a text to speech option, and even a handy text log! I think it was quite the improvement over using RPG Maker.
Given that this is a visual novel, character interaction is important – and I’m happy to say it’s working at full swing! Most areas will allow you to stop and chat with at least one party member, usually concerning topics that were discussed in that area. Some options might even have branching dialogue options, so watch out for that!
You’re also given more than two choices, and some choices will even have icons next to them signifying what kind of response it is. I like the flirt options myself, as it’s kinda fun making Damek and Fortaime flustered at my unexpected advances.
Occasionally, you’ll see a heart above a party member, indicating that you can enter into a Heart-to-Heart Conversation. HTH is a chance to really develop your bond with that party member, and learn more about them and see them change and grow as the game goes on.
Each character will also have a big moment in their HTH where you can alter the course of the relationship and enter into a romance with them – the game fortunately lets you know when you’re at that point, however. I’ve tried dating different characters and it’s nice as each character has their own pacing for things – Valessa feels like there’d be no time for a relationship, Fortaime takes you to a back alley where you share a Mazen apple together, for example.
It’s nice though, as I don’t feel like the game’s just biding its time until I can bed them like with some other furry VNs. I feel like the game wants me to actually care and get to know these characters. And if you do go to the bedroom? Well if Ulric’s date is any indication, it’s handled in a tasteful fashion – enough details to let you infer what’s happening, but vague enough to keep it PG and tasteful.
You can date any of the six party members regardless of your or their gender – and you can even date multiple people! Other characters will notice, however, and who you date can cause different scenes to show. Date Fortaime and he’ll tell Valessa about it later on. Date Fortaime, and then agree to meet Ulric in his room at Rebel HQ, and you’ll get a scene where they find out you’re dating them both.
You’ll also see Party Banter sequences from time to time, and these show pairs of characters interacting with each other in various ways. It’s a nice element to have and helps develop these characters, as well as help you see how they feel towards each other. Watch out though – previous choices like who you date or what P&C choices you’ve made can affect these! Like with the Library, you can also head to the Barracks in Rebel HQ to rewatch any Party Banters seen.
On top of all that, there’s also Parallel Chronicles, which shows what other characters – including the villainous Sovy and the Triumvirate – are up to. While optional, they’re great to watch as it shows more of the story, and also reveal important stuff about other characters like Sovy, which is nice as it doesn’t seem like he’ll become a party member and thus you miss out on seeing him develop through things like Heart-to-Heart and Party Banter.
It’s hard to lie – I’m impressed so far! I was already impressed by the first two demos that had came out, but this has pretty much sealed the deal – Klace has a real winner on his hands here, and seems like he might have a knack for doing some great visual novels.
It’s great being able to really get to know and see these characters, the music is awesome, and I just want more of the story already! The dating sequences are nice too, and it’s really great that each character kinda moves at their own pace. It’s clear that Klace wants you to get emotionally attached and really into these characters. Personally, Damek and Fortaime are my favorites so far.
If you like fantasy, furry, visual novels, dating, adventure, or heck, all of these, definitely check out Winds of Change. If you seem hesitant…well I don’t mean to shameless plug but I’ve got a run of the game all the way up to the end of Act 2 on my own YouTube channel! Check it out and I’ll see you out there in the battlefield, soldier!