A Valley Without Wind is a Valley Without a Whole Lot of Stuff…?

Is there anyone else who played A Valley Without Wind and feels seriously disappointed?
For the uninitiated, here’s a glowing preview that kotaku wrote about the game:
I understand what it’s trying to be, an infinitely big metroidvania game, but there’s so many elements of the game that leaves me perplexed I have to wonder if it’s worth it to consider investing the time to play it.
So I get what it’s suppose to be about, you try to beat the boss every map and you just do whatever you want until you get there. There’s a planning menu that gives you a list of things you might want to acquire, but I don’t understand how more than half of it is suppose to work.
Rescuing villagers? All I see are boss tower missions on the overland map. And why bother? The tutorial says I’m suppose to get benefits from them, but all I get are a bunch of idiots milling around town and spewing nonsense. I’m not even getting clues to dungeons like those Castlevania 2 idiots.
I’m suppose to upgrade buildings how? There’s no building menu, I looked, god I looked everywhere. And the buildings already in existence… don’t do anything. It’s not like you build item shops and markets and mines with intuitive, practical purposes. They’re just a bunch of stuff, that’s suppose to give guardian stuff. Stuff stuff stuff, but nothing in my inventory or enchant window. And now I have a bajillion building materials and nothing I can do with them.
And spell upgrades? You get crafting materials… randomly out of random veins out of random buildings out of random terrains. And the spells aren’t even all that different. The ones that’s worth jack are all “shoot stuff at where you point to”. Cooldowns, mana limits, they all make even basic attacks feel like a chore.
On the subject of upgrades, why permadeath, why? To say you don’t lose anything when you die is a blatant lie. You lose all your upgrade orbs. That’s as far as I can see, the only mechanism to increase your health pool. So if you die, you lose that, permanently. And it’s not like anything in the world is posing a real challenge… the stuff that shoots stuff at you are just sitting there spewing stuff, and there’s stuff that run at you… and you either stand still and be absolutely raped or you find a ledge and be completely immune to damage. Roguelikes permadeath feels meanful because you can do proper risk assessment and if you take a risk and die, well you had it coming. Death in here just feels cheap. Goddamned cheap. Hey you spawned in a boss room about the size of a dog house with the boss’s feet right on your head and you killed everything on the way so there’s no health orbs to restore health and it’s a boss tower so there’s no branching path and by the way you are on a mission so if you port out you lose, you get nothing, good day sir!
So I spammed attack in the boss room and died.
Of course, I didn’t lose anything because I’ve been hoarding my upgrade orbs like a madman, because I don’t want to lose those upgrade orbs because frankly they’re a pain in the ass to get, and if I died cheaply like I just did, I would have thrown the monitor across the room and screaming obscenities.
Oh yeah, and killing mobs don’t do anything for you. No exp, no drops, just meaningless achievements and the fact that they getting in your way every 5 seconds. And that includes bosses. For all the cleverness of all the spell trajectories, cooldowns, distances, elemental resistances, you know what I’ve found to be the most effective way of dispatching all of them? Press tab to auto target, and spam one of the two attacks that doesn’t get resisted. This works for EVERYTHING. This works optimally for EVERYTHING. I’m actively being discouraged from finding useful and clever ways of dispatching my enemies, because the dumbest way works best.
Am I doing something wrong here? I don’t know why, but I’m so goddamn mad a this game right now. There’s so much potential here – MineCraft is a lot of fun to me, but sometimes it just feels so directionless… I gave up Terraria in about 3 minutes because it felt like it’s MineCraft with a less intuitive interface, a more awkward block placement system, and a map size that feels claustrophobic the moment I generate it. I don’t play Metroid, but I loved Castlevania from SOTN on, and the thought of being able to play a game like that forever is super appealing to me, but this game, from the few hours that I’ve experienced, feels like it’s stabbing me in the back every time I find something good about it. I’ll probably give it a go for another day or two, but I have a sinking feeling I’ll just go back to MineCraft, Legends of Grimrock, Dungeons of Dredmore, or other similar experiences without suffering all the faults in this game… or the graphics, for that matter.
I mean, you look at the screenshots and yeah… it’s not a looker. You don’t judge a book by its cover, I know that, but look at how much bile I just spewed about what’s inside the cover. So it goes without saying that not having the shiny coating of graphic goodness hurts the overall experience all the more.

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