Windbound is a new survival game that uses an tropical island aesthetic to weave a story about a warrior who must sail the seas to find her way back home. But this game is full of storms in more ways than one.
The Forbidden Islands are calling, unlock their secrets. Separated from her fellow warriors, Kara finds herself alone and without resources on a mysterious and picturesque island paradise. With no boat, food or tools, just the will and skills to survive, Kara will uncover this beautiful island’s rich resources and deeper mysteries. Scattered ruins reveal secrets of the past and glimpses of the future Unravel the mystery behind them all and you may find more than just your way home.
Windbound’s protagonist is Kara, a warrior from a seafaring group of people who find herself alone when seas show her no mercy one night. Kara starts the game by capsizing in a storm only to find herself in front of a mysterious portal which takes her to a new island that contains ancient history and dangers.
The first artifact she discovers is an oar handle which lets you paddle through the water on boats that you craft and is necessary for the first challenge of the game which is to visit three towers located on different islands and reach the top to activate them. Once they are active, you visit the next portal and continue to the next level or world.
This format isn’t bad but definitely lacks in terms of execution and quickly becomes repetitive. The towers that you need to reach are often hard to see in the distance until you get close. So you can end up wasting your stamina and food supply by heading one direction until finding yourself in the middle of the sea with your health quickly draining. While I get that it’s part of the rogue-like element of the game, it doesn’t help that the islands are barren except for wild animals which will attack if you engage and have limited food from the very beginning.
I tried to fight the first creature I found by using a grass rope to launch rocks at it but could barely figure out how to aim because of the reticle which felt very unclear for the first weapon I used. So this marked my first death of many of just trying to understand what the game wanted me to do.
The best strategy I found was just to collect the materials necessary to sail to the next island which is basically grass for boats and to keep the hunger meter from depleting. It felt like a waste of time to do anything else because you would be out of food before you reached the first gate.
Sailing the High Seas
The controls for this game feel underdeveloped and the user interface for the menus is even worse. I struggled so often to figure out how to craft materials, equip weapons, or even eat food to regain health. And when you finally do craft a boat, you have to hold down on the trigger for minutes. Yes minutes at a time because there’s no other way I could find to keep my character paddling in a straight line to reach the next destination. The game tries to cover up this incredibly annoying experience with music but it’s an exhausting waste of time to just hold down one button for that long.
The one thrilling part of the sailing experience was after completing the first level. My goal was to paddle to the new gate which was almost a perfectly one direction trip. But the thrill came from an underwater beast shifting beneath me which caused my boat to speed up in the direction of rocks and other obstacles that I had to steer to avoid. But there wasn’t much more it offered other than that sequence
Though this game presents itself with charming colors and pretty scenery, the lack of execution makes it feel more like a backdrop rather than a world to explore. Everytime I had to scale a tower I would groan at the fact that I needed to cautiously jump my way to each platform because Kara was unable to simply climb. This made coming down an even more painstaking process.
Deep Silver’s Windbound is a “open world” adventure game with minimal finesse and quality control. Amount of enjoyment that I could find from being in this new world of water and sky was equally matched by the amount of frustration that I experienced in just progressing through the game. Windbound’s sails feel empty compared to the presentation from its trailers. I wish that the menu system was not only clear but also better suited for the Switch’s screen because it gave me headaches at times to try and read the descriptions of the items I carried with me.
5/10 Just Another game.
This game is just another game, it has its pros and it has its cons. You definitely enjoyed it at the moment, but it is unlikely you will revisit or remember much about the game.
- Visual presentation
- Unique setting
- Story set up
- User interface design
- Exploration mechanics
- World Structure
A review code for Windbound was provided by Tinsley PR for the purpose of this review.