Visual novels fill a very particular niche in the gaming world. It's easy to see why people like them: as the name of the genre suggests, the best of these games really do feel like you're reading a novel that's being acted out before your very eyes. The great ones usually feature a compelling story, stellar voice acting, and hopefully some way for the player to have an effect on the story. Winds Of Change does do a pretty good job of setting up its world and lore, but it definitely hits on some pretty familiar narrative territory.
A Song Of Ice And Furries
In Winds Of Change you play the role of the Seer, an individual who's capable of receiving visions of the future that can be used to help your people. You start the game in the midst of one of these visions, as your village is burning to the ground. There's a group called the Triumvirate who are trying to take over all the lands of your country by taking souls, injecting them into suits of armor, and turning them into soldiers for their army. It's your job as the hero of the story to try to stop these evil fiends while also potentially befriending or romancing characters you come across.
It's a pretty standard fantasy story for the most part, what with you literally being the "Chosen One" archetype and going up against an evil empire. There's also a rebellion, some kind of vague spiritual energy, and a bunch of other stuff you see in epic stories like this. The big difference here is that everyone is some form of animal person. You got fox people, wolf people, cow people, etc. So it does freshen things up a bit to see familiar characters being played by a talking rabbit.
Obviously You Can Romance The Fox Ladies
However, it also gets kind of weird because you can flirt with a bunch of these humanimals. There are various romance options, as well as other kinds of interactions you can have with various animal people in the world. It's a little bizarre trying to get it on with a literal foxy lady - but then again, a lot of players have tried to get with Tali or Garrus in Mass Effect so maybe it's not that different.
For a visual novel, there's an awful lot of player choices, which really helps you to stay invested in what's happening. You have a variety of dialogue options, branching paths, and there are are even some side plots. In certain areas you have a map you can travel around. Various characters will join your party, which will lead to unique dialogue options around the various locations.
Lots Of Talking And Staring
And I do hope you like dialogue, because Winds Of Change has a lot of it. There are multiple voice lines, and they can vary depending on what questions you choose to ask. Just about every line is fully voiced, although the quality of the voice acting is kind of all over the place. Some actors are definitely very talented and nail their performances, while others have the personality of a pet rock. Of particular note is the voice actor who reads every book you find aloud, who would do a good job reading audiobooks that intend to put you to sleep.
The art work is good, but it definitely has a Disney by way of Deviantart kind of vibe. Everything looks like it was sketched and colored by talented artists, although there's only so many poses and facial expressions, and after a while you'll probably be sick of seeing everyone cycle through them all. Also, some of the characters tend to have this kind of dead-eyed stare which I found kind of unsettling. Like this:
That's the face you'll see just before you're murdered at Furcon.
A Tail As Old As Time
Winds Of Change is a decent visual novel that actually allows the player a lot of chances to see the story play out how they see fit. The voice acting and art is mostly solid with some occasional low points, yet the story can be a bit cliched, and full of some pretty predictable fantasy tropes.
It's bit of a mixed bag, but if you like high fantasy, or you just really want to romance some furry folks, then Winds Of Change may be your jam.
3 out of 5
A review copy of Winds Of Change for the PC was provided to TheGamer for this review. Winds Of Change is available now on PC.