Windbound developed by 5 Lives Studio and published by Deep Silver is available now on PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Google Stadia and Xbox One.
Players take on the role of Kara, a warrior who was lost at sea due to a fierce storm. With no food, water or shelter Kara must do whatever she can to discover where she is, survive and get back to her tribe. Players will explore multiple procedurally-generated islands and activate shrines that will guide you through multiple chapters and give you a backstory along the way. I felt that it was a little difficult at times to follow the story. It took quite a while to get to each point and while the developers have done a great job in using art and sound to convey its backstory, it just didn’t engage me, I was to busy wrestling with the survive mechanics which we’ll get to in a bit. The introduction to the game is interesting it does get you interested enough to continue but something felt missing the further I got.
Windbound’s gameplay is a mixed bag it’s a survival game but also similar to Zelda Breath of the Wild. Kara will have to eat to survive, learn and craft better items along the way and upgrade everything to ensure it isn’t too tough of a journey. I felt that the combat was a bit difficult at first but it’s something that I eventually got the hang of though starting over and over and losing everything got to me at one point, it became more of a slog than anything. The survival mechanics I think feel a bit rushed, you’ll get really hungry fast, it’s punishing but perhaps the point is that this journey is going to be difficult? There is an easier mode for those who prefer the story but I went survivalist to make sure I got the full experience. I feel that Windbound would have been way better suited at being crafted into an Adventure with RPG elements. The exploration is really fun already so if more points of interest were added and then you had a levelling system with skills and the already existing crafting system, I think it would have been better but always having to find food and everything else can become quite a pain at times. The boat I also struggled with when using the sails, I don’t know if it was me being useless or the wind and boat system didn’t work quite right, it was really hard to get going.
Where Windbound shines is in its design, the game is beautiful, the art direction is flawless, the grass swaying in the breeze, the sky with a thunderstorm going off in the distance, the magical creatures that fills the mysterious isles and so much more. The art and sound are why I kept ongoing. Exploring each of the islands with the music playing to your every action, the monsters actions and the world around you was amazing, I truly got lost in it all.
Windbound is not a terrible game at all, I felt like it was having an identity crisis, I don’t think this should have been survival. I enjoyed my experience to a point and I think the art and design make up for a few things that went wrong with the title along the way.