Gamers of a certain age will no doubt remember the infuriating nature of the hot-air balloon rides in the depths of the lava levels of Donkey Kong Country 2. What if a game could replicate a tangibly similar challenge, only with a much more relaxing and modern-looking approach? This has been achieved triumphantly by mobile game DaWindci Deluxe. A physics-based puzzle game with elements of swiping skill, Da Windci Deluxe is a mystifying experience. It involves swiping the screen to create gusts of wind with view to guiding a hot air balloon as far as you can. Such an unusual premise in itself deserves a review, and that’s before you consider this game’s dreamy atmosphere and eye-pleasing design.
Premise and Gameplay
It’s difficult not to enjoy the outrageous simplicity of DaWindci’s premise. We’re talking about a game whose primary appeal is that you get to control the local weather system of a variety of different maps. The action’s viewed from the top down, and the reason you’ve been transformed into this weather-god is to guide a hot-air balloon across the aforementioned maps. Each level provides some hefty challenges in terms of terrain as well as the perfecting of your swipe-to-gust/blow/precipitate technique, so we’re dealing with a game split down the middle between physics-based puzzlement and skills-based swipery.
The gameplay itself consists of a top-down interface. That is, you’re viewing the vast expanses of terrain from a bird’s eye perspective, controlling the weather by swiping in a variety of ways on the screen. You can create everything from short, sharp gusts to longer-lasting breezes, through to hectic tornadoes and even rain/storm clouds. The interface feels much smoother than the original DaWindci as well, and it includes the ability to introduce wind streams with a curved shape rather than the gestures being exclusively linear.
A Matter of Progress
The many challenges presented to you in the game range from avoiding obstacles through to using them for your own ends. You’ll have to get pretty good at swiping up a windstorm that keeps your balloon away from hindrances, but you can also use buildings like power stations to whip up an electrical storm, or draw circular shapes in quick succession to whip up a terrifying tornado. You’re kept anchored by special hooks so that you don’t blow away completely, so the stakes aren’t quite as high as they could be in this respect.
How much DaWindci Deluxe appeals to you in the long term depends on whether you’re the kind of gamer who can be satisfied by the classic three-star system. Each level contains three stars, with each one being progressively more difficult to grab along the way. Three stars for a level means full completion, but you can get by on one star, which should allow you to pass to the next section. The best part about collecting the extra stars is that you can spend them on upgrades to your balloon’s look as well as the unlocking of extra levels.
A Good-Looking Game
You cannot look at DaWindci Deluxe and not be affected in some way by its distinct artistic style. It’s almost (but not quite) in the style of classic cel-shading. It’s most definitely 3D but the shading used makes it feel flatter and also serves to make the top-down perspective even more intriguing to look at. The music also weaves nicely into the equation, resulting in an extremely relaxing experience quite different to the sheer frustration and stress that other puzzle games can induce in its players. Its artistic style also elevates DaWindci Deluxe well above the relatively unimaginative visual design of fellow skills-based physics-launcher series (and global franchise) Angry Birds.
There really is nothing to lose when choosing to download DaWindci Deluxe. It’s a small (£1.49 on Google Play) fee for a game that can provide multiple consecutive hours of challenging (yet relaxing) fun. It also makes a nice change to the fixed-format balloon-based puzzle games.