Hi Arcen Community
I recently got the game and spent a couple hours into it, there is some feedback that I wanted to give based on my experience so far.
First some compliments:
From a design standpoint, I love it. A Valley Without Wind is a vast game with lots of meaningful and useful systems that tie the whole experience together extremely well. While it does require you to stop and read a bit, and also use your head to figure out how certain things work (i. e. this is not a game you play mindlessly or get away with stupidity), you can get into it fairly easy and the game has numerous ways to guide and help you figure out how it works, even despite so many "hidden" features scattered across its design that are not so apparent at first.
Also the way its designed to have infinite gameplay and focused support for co-op is just awesome.
Now for some critisism and suggestions...
The Uncanny Valley effect of the aesthetics in AVWW:
Ever since I saw the trailers and screenshots, the visual side of AVWW felt really out of place and wierd, in a bad way. However what got me interested in the game so much to get it, was its design and idea behind it.
Now that I've actually played it for a couple good hours, got a hang of the gameplay and seen it all in action, I'd like to give some constructive critisism about this issue because after playing AVWW, my eyes are extremely tired and I have a minor headache too. There are multiple aspects what is wrong with the aesthetics.
Please, don't get me wrong, the massive effort that went into each graphical asset is obvious, so I must stress that I'm not berating the actual artwork assets. They're lovingly crafted and detailed to the last perfection. The point I'm critisizing is the aesthetics, in other words how all those assets work together ingame. The overall mood and feel.
1. Detail Overload
In AVWW, you move very fast, change areas often and constantly explore ever new areas in this game. Every time you enter a new area, your eyes and brain are overwhelmed by massive amounts of new information, most of it critical to your survival, so you cannot ignore it so easily.
Whats worse is that that information is extremely rich in detail. The scenery, the terrain surface, the background, the enemies, your character and the UI are all so extremely detailed that it makes your face melt from the sheer brutal amount of information you get bombarded. And the fact the game is fast paced and keeps taking you to new places at a fast rate, your eyes and brain are subconsiously heavily strained. This makes the whole game VERY hard on the eyes and difficult for the brain to handle in the long run.
I really don't want to say "make your art more simple", but for things that are in the background, its probably necessary (and perhaps the only way) to simplify them and kill off some detail from those background-orientated elements. In theory, this can be achieved using blur, desaturation and lowering contrast. There is no need to do new art from scratch, just tweak the existing art assets to be more kind on the eye as a whole.
2. Too Sharp Contrast, Brightness and Saturation
Simply put; the background, scenery, projectiles and actors blend together too strongly, are too bright and too colorful.
What happens is that it becomes sometimes hard to distinguish actors, projectiles and objects in the game. Its not a complete mess, but it really takes heavy effort from the brain and eyes to identify what is what on the screen. Again, the fact that everything is so detailed and how fast you move in the game only add to the problem.
Turn down the saturation, brightness and contrast for things that are in the background and the opposite for more active and important things that are in the foreground.
3. Menu Information Overload and UI Text Size
I'll be blunt; the default UI text is so damn small that I need to squint my eyes to read it properly. And my eye-sight is sharp.
And it doesn't help at all that there is lots of that said text, most if not all of it quite interesting and useful (and funny, I love the gravestones humor in the tutorial btw, very clever).
Probably try a bigger font size or different font or having more division of text paragraphs so they're more spaced out and thus easier to follow and read.
The aesthetics are pretty much my only legitimate complaint about AVWW I have so far that has had a negative effect on my playsession. The rest of my post is mostly suggestions that could make AVWW better function-wise.
Key Combo Input to use spells and custom key combo editor for said purpose:
The movement, inventory management and attacking work very smoothly in AVWW, but managing your spells is very cumbersome on the fly. You can indeed pause the game and stop to manage your spells, but that kills the momentum of the game too often.
Currently you can use 2 spells (with the mouse buttons) at one given time effectively without needing to stop or make your hand to bend and stretch over the keyboard to hit a 1-9 hotkey or right-click the icon in the spell hotbar without messing your concentration, aim or movement. But commonly, you end up using 4-5 spells/items on a regular basis so this is not so good and the combat fun suffers from this.
One idea I had is to allow the player to assign a custom key combo to a spell in his/her inventory. A shining example is that "Storm Dash" spell that makes you run super fast (I love that one spell so much btw).
Some spells might have pre-set combo to use them automatically, while others don't, but allow you to assign them or edit such a key combo for automatic use.
A key combo can be any sequence or simultaneous combination of keys using the movements buttons (WASD), spell usage buttons (Mouse 1 & 2) and perhaps a special modifier key (F key is a good candidate, it also seems like a free key according to the default control setup).
You could pause the game or otherwise select a spell and have an option to edit a key combo for it. It would open a small window where you can enter a sequence of keys and then save it for that spell. You can also remove key combos in the same window.
With this feature, you would be able to use more spells actively exactly how you want, without needing to pause the game and thus keeping up a higher ingame momentum of action.
Default key for Pause is a bit cumbersome:
Okay, this issue can be fixed by the user in 2 seconds, but seriously, pausing in this game is something you would do often and its also very useful otherwise, so having it bound to P by default doesn't make much sense. You have to either let go of the mouse or abandon your movement controls (Not good) to reach the "p" key on your keyboard every time you want to scan the enemy or pause the game to re-arrange your spell or otherwise.
I personally have set it to Q (I hope that "cancel enemy targetting" function wasn't anything important) and its much better.
"Look forward" function is too limited:
You have a lot of vertical movement in AVWW, and when I pressed 'g' for the first time to use the "look ahead" function, it was dissapointing.
I'd suggested that while you hold 'g', you may move your mouse cursor freely and the camera would follow it any direction you drag it towards. The limit would be that the you cannot look so far that the player leaves the screen, but you can actually look ahead freely in any direction you want as long you hold 'g', not just limited to forward only.
If you've played ever played Soldat or King Arthurs Gold, that is the kind of camera mechanic I'm talking about.