Author Topic: Tales from Windy Meadow - a review by Jubal  (Read 554 times)

Jubal

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Tales from Windy Meadow - a review by Jubal
« on: February 04, 2019, 10:06:11 PM »
Tales from Windy Meadow - a review by Jubal

Game Type: Indie/Commercial
Genre: Choose Your Own Adventure

Link: https://store.steampowered.com/app/875660/Tales_From_Windy_Meadow/

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Tales from Windy Meadow, coming from Moral Anxiety Studios in Poland, is a story-game (that is, effectively a choose your own adventure) based on the struggles of three young people growing up in a small village in a fantasy setting. The first sections of the game involve a chapter for each of the three main characters (Iudicia, a herbalist, Fabel, an odd-jobber who dreams of being a bard, and Vena, a hunter/warrior).

The three core characters are compelling, and represent a good approach to diversity in a fantasy setting – one character, Fabel, has a severe mobility disability; another, Iudicia, is clearly intended to be autistic (and is also possibly implied to be asexual; her plotline centres around her marriage and her difficulties coming to terms with the idea). In general, these characters’ traits manage to construct their characters without wholly defining their characters, striking an effective balance in storytelling which I very much appreciated. The supporting cast are also effective and interesting, although perhaps a little large – by the time I knew all their names, I was getting to the end of a playthrough. This might have been helped by having slightly longer scenes with more ‘bulked out’ conversations to establish the minor characters. This would also have had the useful effect of stopping me over-thinking some of my other choices – in this sort of slice of life game, it’s perhaps better to have a bit more conversation that doesn’t focus on the key decisions and turning points, to allow the player to contextualise the decisions they make better.

The difficulties I had with the game are the same ones I always have with this genre, namely the frequent frustration at having a set of options in front of me, often none of which I particularly wanted to pick. That’s natural, I think – of course the characters’ range of possible responses in a situation will differ from what my own would be, and I did find something relatable in all three characters, be that Iudicia’s introversion, Fabel’s love of story-crafting, or Vena’s concern for her family. More of a downside was that some paths make some scenes that should be rather dramatic become a bit passed by – Fabel being introduced to the town’s sacred places/graves felt like it came fairly late in the story by which time I’d already more or less committed him to leaving Windy Meadow.

One thing that really interested me with Windy Meadow and which I’d have liked to see considerably more of was world-building, which was very well executed – I very much hope the developers go back and give us either more games or more content that will allow us to explore this setting more. The underlying tensions between mankind and a literally larger than life natural world were ones that I’d not come across presented in quite this way before, and I really enjoyed it. Whilst it’s in some ways an effective part of Tales From Windy Meadow that the city only appears via the characters’ attitudes to it, it does mean the player probably gets Vena and Fabel’s intrigue at its opportunities which is an itch that never gets scratched even if you choose to send the characters there.

Overall, I definitely enjoyed Tales from Windy Meadow, which stands up well on all areas for a solid 4 out of 5 overall score on my ratings system, and I’ll do my best to go back and try the other character paths, though my first playthrough felt like the “right” set of endings for me – I’m not a player who likes forcing my characters to give up their dreams! I’d recommend getting a copy of this game if you like compelling storytelling and interesting fantasy settings, and I’m looking forward to seeing if any more comes of it.
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...