Windbound is released today for all major consoles ( Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Google Stadia, Microsoft Windows ) and is a survival game where you play as Kara, a shipwrecked warrior stranded in a place surrounded by clouds (think Laputa Castle in the sky) and endless oceans. Kara must survive and unravel the mystery of these strange seemingly abandoned islands by building a a raft and hopping to each one to discover it’s secrets.
Gameplay is kinda what you expect when it comes to Windbound, See grass, pick it up, see a rock, pick it up…stop, craft, hammertime. This game is a full on survival game but tamer than say “Don’t Starve”, enemies are fairly easy to defeat and resources are plentiful but it’s all time consuming…There’s a cooking element in this game where you have to manage meats and use them before they rot and become useless, this sounds good but holy moly its slooooooooooooow, I was near death and the only meat i had on me was a large piece of beef, I pop it on the fire and have to wait 3 minutes, mean while a massive beast has spotted me and decided I’m it’s next meal whilst I have no health or even raw meat to consume because its stuck on the fire so I die being flung across the sand. None of this wouldn’t be a problem if it was instant and enemies didn’t respawn about ten times faster than any resources in the area (grass, sticks, berries etc) leaving me super vulnerable…and this is in the “Story mode” in survival mode you die and you only regain whats in your hand and on your person…basically screw that. Anyway back to the game Kara is really easy to control though finicky and her dodge isn’t incredible, stamina slows you down something rotten and regains slowly too, if she is knocked down she takes forever to get up and if you’re fighting a large beast that beast can spam you on the floor and really take a way your health, but traversing the world as Kara is quite satisfying with the ability to climb up rocks and give yourself the high ground advantage and her combat skills all work very well. Sadly this does not translate as well to the sailing.
Sailing comes in to play almost immediately you find a mystical Oar that grants you the ability to build your own boat/raft so you can travel from island to island, you open your very simple but deep crafting system where not only can you craft a boat you can build fires, create weapons and storage bags…but the boats are where it’s at or at least that’s what the developers want you to think…personally I hated it it was fine to begin with use your Oar to get from place to place but yet again its slow, no worries though because you can eventually add a sail once you find different resources….the sail is awful I’m sorry I couldn’t get my head around it, you have no control over the wind so you have to use real sailing mechanics to get from island to island that way but it sucks I get that the game wants you to explore and find your health power ups but when the wind forces you to go so beyond where you’re aiming for and you hear the same piece of charming music over and over its gets boring…no tutorial of how to function the sail properly other so in the end i just took the sail off and made B-lines which island I wanted to see next…it’s technically slower but with no control over the wind going by oar was so much faster if that makes sense.
Ok so the elephant in the room is the visual presentation…this is a great looking game but looks very familiar, maybe a little too familiar. The Cel-Shaded graphics are like a cross between two very popular Legend of Zelda titles (Wind Waker and Breath of the Wild) and as a result everything looks great and won’t age too much as time goes one, Windbound however may have leaned too far towards that style especially considering there are a slew of BOTW clones out there, heck the game even starts almost the same way a Links Awakening, because of this people may be too harsh on this game for its visual style over game play and where as I don’t like the game play and thinks its tedious the look of this game is really cool and if you like a survival game the game play will carry this game for you so I guess don’t judge a book by it’s cover as I really enjoy this style of game…kinda reminds me of retro gaming as even 30 year old games chose their look so carefully that they still to this day look awesome (Mario World).
So I have been hitting this game hard I don’t think I’ve been all that nice to it, as a survival game its works it functions as you would expect, the story unfolds at your pace and is genuinely interesting but for me these where not enough. I despise destructible items (which has me worried about BOTW as I’ve not played it yet) and limited inventory (unless it’s Resi 4). If this game was a straight up action adventure id be all over it but its slow pace and uneven respawn rates just puts me off so I can only give this game a low score and honestly you may see this as too low and feel free to tell me I’m wrong but this game as beautiful and competent as it actually is for me is 4/10.
Check out my video review below.