Winds of Change originally released on Steam back in 2019 and, as you can see from the reviews, it was a critical success. Indie developer Klace opted to share the love of its point-and-click visual novel with the Switch, which is arguably the best format for visual novels. (Fight me.) The game has plenty of promise with a nice combination of visual novel and otome mechanics. However, for Winds of Change to have that same success on the Switch, Klace needs to fix one major problem: game crashes.
Admittedly, I didn’t get very far in Winds of Change, because I rage-quit after the fourth crash. Each crash wiped out at least an hour of gameplay. While it certainly didn’t crash on me as often as Cyberpunk 2077, at least Cyberpunk has frequent auto-saves. Since this is a visual novel/point-and-click adventure, there aren’t any. Before you ask me why I wouldn’t save more often after the second crash, let me cut you off at the pass. I started a habit of saving the game after exploring each area, which is far more often than I usually save with games like this. However, sometimes one area would take up an hour just from exploring and conversing with party members. I’d save before I made a big decision, since these decisions actually do change the course of the game. But that often wasn’t enough to not lose considerable gameplay. The last crash wiped out two hours, since it happened in the middle of a vision. I was done at that point.
I am interested in picking the visual novel back up after patches come through. What I had played intrigued me quite a bit, especially since it was nothing like I expected.
At first glance, Winds of Change appears to be about furries, but that wasn’t really the case. Are all of the characters anthropomorphic animals? Yes, yes they are, but it’s because this all takes place in a fantasy realm called Alestia. The player is a Seer/Seeress from the independent country of Valinorth, which is about to become not quite so independent. The game begins with a vision that feels so incredibly real depicting the end of Valinorth. In a surprise to no one, the player is the key to helping the Rebellion overthrow the tyrannical and possibly evil Triumvirate. Well, she and a magical sword called the Blade of Exodus. The path to changing Alestia’s future lies in your interpretation of the visions and your decisions.
A lot of games claim that the decisions made within the game are important, that they drastically change how the game world develops. Not many are able to follow through to prove that the choices truly matter. According to the game developer’s blog, the developers really wanted to craft a world where choices do matter. And hoo boy, do they ever.
Some of the choices are obvious game changers, such as when you are told, “Hey, you make a choice.” Or when you’re talking with party members and choosing to flirt or remain friends with them. Others, though, are far more subtle. For example, the books you find along the way are more than just collectibles. By reading them, they give the Seeress more info on decisions to make and open up additional dialogue options you wouldn’t have without this background knowledge. The order you choose to explore areas also greatly affects the story. Just by choosing to go out of order in exploration, I triggered a potential downfall of the Rebellion. That is all it took.
Obviously, this fuels the need to save early and often in addition to the game crashes.
I am disappointed I didn’t get to see more of what the Switch port for Winds of Change had to offer. It has so much going for it, from the dialogue options, to the romance options (you can romance anyone, regardless of gender), to extra party banter and parallel scenes, to exploration. It’s a shame it’s not quite ready for the Switch just yet.