Weather Lord: Following the Princess is a time management game developed by Alawar Stargaze. In it, you take the role of an adventuring ruler on his quest to save a princess and possibly earn her hand in marriage.
This is the fifth entry on the series, but that doesn’t mean that you need to play the previous installments in order to enjoy this one, especially if you're a fan of Windows 8 games. Every game is a self-contained tale with a shared protagonist, the only important thing from the previous one is that our valiant leader is now king regent of his own kingdom. And while all is well in said kingdom, problems stir in the far east as a fairy comes seeking aid. An evil warlock had assaulted her land and kidnapped the leading princess, wreaking havoc to the natural balance and making beautiful lush forests turn into damp and horrid swamps.
Our hero is the perfect answer to the neighboring land’s problems, not only because he is a capable leader, but also because he has access to a strange power that allows him to control the weather (hence the name, Weather Lord). This allows him to tackle the common problems of the genre with his own, unique twist, and sees him prepared for the challenges ahead.
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The game’s art style is very colorful and bright, with each element popping into view. Most of the game is made in gorgeous 2D sprites, except for the units that are rendered in 3D, since they are the ones that will be moving around the most. As your units collect resources and make buildings, you can see how things shift from different stages of use on the fly. This is not only pretty to look at, but also a crucial part of the game since you can instantly tell how much of a given resource is left before you have to replenish it, allowing for smarter and faster decision making.
Beyond that, the game also has colorful illustrations of its main characters for when they speak to one another, usually at the beginning of each stage, so you are always reminded of what's at stake in the game’s narrative.
Gameplay wise, this game follows the time management formula with a twist. You need to send your workers to do certain tasks, and if you time things right you will be able to clear a level in no time. You need wood and gold for most tasks, and food for the more physically demanding activities. While there are plenty of resources to gather, you need to make sure to clear the rubble from the road before you can get to anything behind it; plan incorrectly and you will be wasting a lot of precious time. You will never be stuck in an unwinnable scenario, but if you are trying to get the level’s trophy you need to be quick on your feet.
There is also plenty of decision making: Temporal power ups are available on nearly every level, yet knowing when to use them is key. There are also building spots where you can choose what to construct, with each building giving its own advantages. It is recommended to always start with the houses, since you can upgrade them and they give you more workers for the level.
The biggest selling point of the game is the weather mechanic. You can control wind, rain and sunlight, and use that alongside your workers to speed up levels. These powers have two uses: clearing obstacles and replenishing resources. For obstacles, you might need to evaporate water with sunlight or clear away cobwebs with wind. There is no limit as to where you use this power, so plan ahead accordingly. As far as resources, they don’t come back on a timer, you are the one that waters the grains or winds up more gold from mines. It really makes for a more involved experience compared to other titles within the genre.
Weather Lord: Following the Princess is a fun whimsical adventure that gives its own twist to a well-known style of play, putting the emphasis on player ugency and choice and less on timers and randomness. It is well worth putting the time into this title.