While looking for a game to play over vacation, when I’m away from my main PC, I decided to check in on Master of the Wind, and found that it’s now finished. The seventh and final arc is complete and the entire game is now available as a single download, for free.

Master of the Wind is my favorite game made with RPGMaker, a tool designed for creating old-school Japanese-style role-playing games. For those unfamiliar with the style, these games usually feature pre-set characters, a top-down viewpoint with separate turn-based battles, and an emphasis on story. I find that the most important thing for me when playing such games is the writing, and the writing in Master of the Wind is what really sets it above other games in the genre. The game’s themes include prejudice and racism, societal structure, and the true nature of justice and forgiveness, all handled artfully through the game’s narrative.

Try it out by downloading here, or read on for some more thoughts on the game.

The protagonists of Master of the Wind are Shroud and Stoic. They are superheroes, donning masks and protecting the town of Port Arianna from vampires and thieves. Shroud is a wind lancer, fighting with a pike and wind magic, but by day is simply mild-mannered Cade. Stoic, a fighter who wields a sword in each hand, is a skeleton. Yes, a skeleton. Raised into undeath by necromancy. But it doesn’t stop him from fighting for justice.

By day, the pair work in an armor shop in town, selling expensive but high-quality hand-crafted armor to the residents. That is, until one of the new Equipment King chain stores opens up in town, selling both weapons and armor at ridiculously low prices and muscling out the competition. It soon becomes clear that Equipment King is engaging in some shady activity to secure its dominance in the market, and Shroud and Stoic decide to start a little investigation.

From these beginnings, the plot blossoms into a grand adventure, full of interesting characters and the rich history of the world of Solest (apparently drawing on several earlier, unreleased games by the same team). Shroud and Stoic could easily have been generic heroes, but are instead fleshed-out characters with their own flaws and idiosyncrasies. For example, while few would argue that Equipment King’s methods are despicable, Shroud and Stoic show a vehement opposition to big business (and, occasionally, towards rich people in general) that hardly serves to further their cause amongst those they meet. The pair also show genuine character growth over the course of the game, which is a refreshing thing to see. While I have not yet played the final arc in the story, the first six are uniformly excellent, although the later ones become heavy on exposition and a little lighter on actual gameplay. The writing stumbles a few times in these later sections but overall remains high quality throughout.

Graphically, the game is a mix of original artwork and standard RPGMaker assets. The environments and backgrounds are typically made from stock tilesets but the character and monster art is mostly original. Some minor characters have stock portraits that clash with the original art for the main characters, but that’s a minor complaint. The music also deserves a highlight; while few (none?) of the tracks are original, they are tastefully curated and fit the mood of various scenes perfectly.

In terms of its gameplay systems, Master of the Wind is very traditional. The turn-based battles will be instantly familiar to anyone who has played the early entries from classic series such as Final Fantasy or Dragon Warrior. Battles are random, but there is an “encounter rate” slider in the corner of the screen which will warn players when the next battle will occur. Characters fight with a mix of standard attacks, special abilities and spells, and there are a variety of status effects that can be strategically applied to enemies, as well as elemental strengths and weaknesses to exploit. There is also a crafting system in the game, letting players craft new armor and equipment from ingredients found from battles. For those who tire of fighting for crafting ingredients, the ingredients can simply be purchased as well.

Some players might find the opening a bit slow, but I recommend sticking with it. It’s got plenty of content, great characterization and writing, and, best of all, is completely free. What is there to lose? I plan on playing through again, and I’ll probably write another post once I’ve finished and seen the ending. But I wanted to recommend the game now, for those readers who might be interested.

Here’s that download link again.