I've used several "automatic", non-TTl flashes for years and found them excellent.

They work just about as well as centre-weighted metering in a camera. If you understand what they are doing, and don't point them the wrong way, they will reward you with well exposed flash shots.

Admittedly, the flashes I have used are good ones (Metz 60CT series, Olympus T32 and T20, various good Vivitar models).