Another retro styled JRPG from the busy bees over at KEMCO means that I’m starting to run out of clever ways to introduce these games. I shall therefore just fall back on the bare basic facts. Gale of Windoria is the latest JRPG to arrive on our shores, and while the look and feel may be familiar to anyone who has played a KEMCO title previously – deja vu is an occupational hazard with these titles – the story promises to be all new.
And that’s a bit of luck as it’s the story which is traditionally a strong point for KEMCO and their attempt at JRPG world domination. So it proves here – so much so that I have often wondered how many stories there are in the world; as something is written down, does it then get removed from the central pool of ideas, or is it just a matter of inspiration striking?
Anyway, back to the narrative here. The world of Gale of Windoria is protected by four things called the Tetra Quartzes, each one aligned to different elements – Wind, Water, Fire and Earth. Of course, if everything was tickety boo with this system, it would be a short and boring narrative, and so the Tetra Quartzes have become sullied. Now, as it would happen, each civilisation has a Maiden that is attached to the Quartzes (not literally, you understand) and when something goes wrong, the default reaction seems to be to sacrifice said Maidens. We start the game as Shan, a simple Beakle craftsman’s son (more on those Beakles later) who decides that he isn’t going to let Wina, the Wind Village Maiden, be killed. They take it upon themselves to run away together. That then sets the scene. Can Shan save the world, can he unite the separate nations, and will anyone ever care? All these questions and more may well be answered on the journey.
Oh, and the Beakles? They are a form of transport that was invented a long time ago, utilising the power of the breeze to fly about faster than we can walk. After acquiring one in our travels, we can find and be rewarded with upgrade parts for it, to make it able to cross water, for instance.
In terms of the visuals and I’m afraid that if you want to know what Gale of Windoria’s graphics are like, then you could simply read into any of the other umpteen games from KEMCO. They all have a distinctive retro style, and are obviously of the opinion that non-broken things need no repairs; it is very much business as usual. Largeish sprites wander around in dungeons, or an over world map as they move between locations, and the design of the characters is a highlight. Each nation or element is represented by a different looking protagonist, with Water nation folk having tails like dolphins, while Fire people are literally hot headed, with flames coming out of the top of their heads. However, the novelty doesn’t extend to many of the enemies you will fight, with a lot of them being recycled from earlier games – like the Panchos. Whether this is KEMCO’s attempt to make an iconic monster, like Dragon Quest’s Slimes, I’m not sure, but they are here again.
And then we’ve got the audio and again it is very much as you’d expect; all stirring battle music, swooshing spells and clanging swords. Pretty much all of it is ripped out of the big book of RPG sound effects.
So how about the combat system, I hear you ask. Well, I’m glad you asked, as this time around things are a little different. In combat, there are attacks, and there are skills to perform, and that is it. No items can be obtained or used, so if someone needs healing, you’d better hope your healer is in a position to help! Healing spells come under the “Skills” menu, and each skill has a certain amount of SP associated with it. If you have enough SP, you can perform the action. If not, SP are generated each turn, so a turn spent using a basic attack will usually see you gain enough SP to use a more powerful skill. With me so far?
The skills that each character can use are tied to Quartzes that you find, equipping them to a character. These Quartzes allow the use of special attacks, healing spells, or even support skills such as raising attack power for a short period of time. As you equip Quartzes, some react with each other in different ways, giving extra effects that can prove decisive in the battles to come. For instance, one particular combo gives each combatant an extra 5 SP at the start of each round, so this is useful as you can imagine. Quartzes can also be strengthened by sacrificing other ones, so the positive effect or powerful attack that you like can be stronger and help you out this way. The Quartz system found in Gale of Windoria is an interesting one as it challenges you to shake up your tactics almost for every boss, as they are all weak to different elements.
How about issues with Gale of Windoria? Well, apart from a very strong feeling of “been there, done that”, there is only really one problem – the traditional KEMCO difficulty spikes. As usual, you can romp through a dungeon, laying waste to all and sundry with the automated attack system (which is actually pretty smart, using skills and attacks equally) until you get to the boss, who flattens you – again and again. So, you go back into the dungeon, grind another five levels or so, and then come back to win. It’s tedious, to be honest, but the roadblock bosses are a feature, so you best make sure you are over-levelled at all times.
All in all, Gale of Windoria is one of the better KEMCO JRPGs, mostly thanks to the flexible Quartz system which lets you build your team in different ways. It is almost worth the price of admission alone. Other than that, it is business as usual, so if you like KEMCO games, you’ll like this one. If not, it’s a tougher sell.
Gale of Windoria is on the Xbox Store
Another retro styled JRPG from the busy bees over at KEMCO means that I’m starting to run out of clever ways to introduce these games. I shall therefore just fall back on the bare basic facts. Gale of Windoria is the latest JRPG to arrive on our shores, and while the look and feel may be familiar to anyone who has played a KEMCO title previously – deja vu is an occupational hazard with these titles – the story promises to be all new. And that’s a bit of luck as it’s the story which is traditionally a strong point…
Gale of Windoria Review
Gale of Windoria Review
- Quartz system is interesting
- Good story
- Elemental system is quite promising too
- Difficulty spikes are almost vertical
- Vague deja vu all the way through
- Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to – KEMCO
- Formats – Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch
- Version reviewed – Xbox Series X
- Release date – 4 Aug 2022
- Launch price from – £12.49
h/t – We Got This Covered