Back in 2013, I was lucky enough to review the gentle, pastoral splendor of Proteus. That is a procedurally generated explore ‘em up that was more a piece of art than a game. It was the first thing I thought of when donning the headgear and stepping into Winds & Leaves.
This is as undemanding and relaxing as gaming gets. You play the part of a kind of farmer/eco warrior hybrid. Here, you are charged with entering a barren, burnt ochre wasteland, in order to populate it with a brand-new swathe of flora. You dig holes and plant seeds And then use a wind-powered device with a warp mechanic to accelerate time, and in turn, the growth of your mystical shrubbery.
Winds & Leaves: Harvest & plant
Your trees will in turn yield fruits, which of course you can harvest, and plant. You do this by grabbing onto the trees with your Move controllers and ascending them to reach your bounty. Not much more is asked of you other than to perpetually sow more and more crops. If you stray from the pre-ordained farming areas your energy, represented by an odd wooden vessel, will deplete and you get whisked back into a safe spot.
There are certain areas where only specific types of seed will grow successfully. This adds a mild puzzle element where you need to match certain symbols to plant the different seed varieties. To begin with, there is a tutorial which tries to explain the rules and conventions of your agricultural travails. But I found that the text boxes are easy to accidentally skip via your movement. It led to an initial period of confusion, but this isn’t actually a bad thing. It means that there is a certain mystery to proceedings. You are dropped into this strange wasteland and try to figure out your part in the grand scheme of things.
Great looking, despite the pop-in
The gameworld is great to look at. Seeing the trees bloom from beneath your feet is a genuinely thrilling experience. There are some jarring instances of pop-in, mind you. This causes trees to suddenly looming into view as you stroll through the forest. The VR aspect and controls work well. Wind & Leaves provides a gentle, undemanding few hours’ worth of entertainment completely at odds with some of the more high-octane romps emerging for PSVR.
This will not be for everyone. Even my Minecraft-loving eight year old baulked at this one for being too slow for his tastes. And I suspect this will not be an uncommon reaction. This charming jaunt was a delightful, verdant explosion of summer, underpinned with a sound ecological message.
Looks and sounds nice
Conservation message is a good one
Wont be for everyone