"Where Winds Meet" is the latest surfer on China's new wave of video games
The longest queue on the public floor of this year's Gamescom formed for a Chinese game called "Black Myth: Wukong." The largest booth on the public f...
The longest queue on the public floor of this year's Gamescom formed for a Chinese game called "Black Myth: Wukong." The largest booth on the public floor of Gamescom this year belonged to a Chinese studio called "HoYoverse." And one of the most intriguing hidden gems in the press area of this year's Gamescom was a Chinese open-world adventure called "Where Winds Meet." China has a rich history of video games, but even with the recent government regulations complicating development plans, it seemed that this year at Gamescom was a sign of an upcoming wave of Chinese games as the world becomes a little smaller. The West has embraced Japanese games since the 1980s, and now China is making its entrance with style.
While playing "Where Winds Meet," I pondered extensively about "Ghost of Tsushima." Regarding Tsushima, there were two main camps discussing the controversial origins of the game. As a Japanese samurai-themed game created by Western developers, some saw it as an example that anyone can create art about anything. Many people in the West find samurai awe-inspiring, and thus Tsushima is built upon this philosophy of admiration. The fact that it won the Player's Choice Award at the Game Awards and received enthusiastic reviews in Japan indicates a significant endorsement of this perspective.
However, concerns have been raised by others that the game is out of place, and perhaps even constitutes cultural appropriation. This position was reinforced by the anachronistic use of Hwachas, haikus, and even samurai swords, none of which existed in the era in which the game is set. "Where Winds Meet" emphasizes the value of a developer who not only admires the culture of the game but also possesses knowledge of it. I have only played for 25 minutes and I am not an expert in Chinese history, but based on the way the developers spoke about their research on the era (the game is set between the Tang and Song dynasties, in the eastern equivalent of our medieval times) and Chinese mythology, it seems to offer a deeper and more accurate exploration of Asian history than the superficial imagery of "Ghost of Tsushima."
Certainly, it is also simply cool, just for the sake of being cool. The name "Jackie Chan" is mentioned three times in our brief discussion, and I was able to employ fantasy martial arts to freeze men in their tracks, throw a bear into a waterfall to uncover a hidden chest, and steal a wallet from across the street. In the demo, I was armed with a sword, spear, and bow at different times, and also gained various powers ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime. While much of the game offers fast-paced and diverse combat with three different blocking techniques to reward players who read their opponents' moves best, you can also magically summon a goat to run people over or pick up a barrel and roar like a lion to frighten them.
The majority of combat in "Where Winds Meet" consists of smaller skirmishes in the open world, where you engage multiple weaker enemies simultaneously, utilizing combos and blocks to take them down. With the martial arts combat throw that hurled the bear into the waterfall, you can also throw enemies at each other, and if they are hostile towards each other (let's say you threw a bear into a group of soldiers), they will fight amongst themselves, leaving you undisturbed.
However, I also experienced a boss battle against an ogre who summoned ghostly hordes to fight by its side. Here, it is important to master your own abilities and consider how to approach each enemy. The fundamental combat is something that open-world players have become accustomed to, but the humor and variety of special abilities that serve a purpose beyond just dealing a certain amount of damage are a significant reason to try out "Where Winds Meet." I have seen the game described as a Soulslike, but based on what I have played, that feels inaccurate, particularly in terms of difficulty, as "Where Winds Meet" is much more forgiving. It lies roughly halfway between "Elden Ring" and "Ghost of Tsushima," perhaps leaning a bit closer to Tsushima but with more direct confrontations.
With limited playtime and the urge to pick up a barrel and roar like a lion, I skipped most of the character creator, but it is among the most detailed I have ever seen. I believe there were at least eight different sliders for eye size alone, and that's before considering shape, angle, and color. In the opening scenes, you are depicted as a baby and child, whose gender is not clearly discernible, and then when you start the actual game, you have the choice to play as a male or female.
"Where Winds Meet" felt like an open-world game with fresh ideas that knows how to get everything right. The only thing that makes me cautious is that in the development build, I saw four different areas where I was transported for specific things, and open-world games mostly live or die by their open world. If "Where Winds Meet" exaggerates the scope or becomes overloaded with unnecessary tasks and filler content, it will be a significant mood dampener for the "Shout Like A Lion In Medieval China Simulator." However, based on the craftsmanship and attention to detail in the graphics seen so far, I am confident that it will get everything right.