Developer: 5 Lives Studios
Publisher: Koch Media
Reviewed on: PC
Also available on: Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One
Release: August 28th 2020
Windbound is a survival game developed by Brisbane based ‘5 Lives Studios’ and published by Deep Silver and Koch Media.
After a massive storm whilst at sea, the player is dropped onto an island with no possessions and nothing to survive. You must scavenge and collect your way to survival during your search for the surviving members of your tribe. While there was definitely something about the game that had me coming back for more, the lackluster plot made the end goal not all that worth the effort
Gorgeously designed and somewhat resembling the art style of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Windbound unfortunately lacks what made Zelda one of the best games on the Nintendo Switch - a compelling story. You start the game somewhat unsure what your goal even is and well, there’s no real story or direction from there to keep you motivated. Apart from a 2 minute video at the start, the entire story is delivered by the silent unveiling of a very cryptic mural. Albeit, not cryptic in an interesting way, more a confusing way that I struggled to follow. That being said, there is definitely something to this game that keeps you retying after each and every death.
While the game is undeniably beautiful, the gameplay mechanics are somewhat boring and clunky as hell, this immediately makes that game feel outdated and a little cheap. The crafting system, while extensive, is pretty much pointless. You can play the entire game using your original boat and not really needing to craft anything other than a spear, bow and arrow and a hand glider. This made one of the games most content heavy features a little redundant.
The biggest issue I have with the game is the gulf between the 2 difficulty settings, you have a choice between either survivalist or storyteller. Survivalist is unnecessarily punishing and the storyteller is boringly forgiving. I never really was able to settle on 1 or the other. Survivalist, has you start from the start of the game each and every time you die, losing the majority of your inventory and losing upto 10 hours worth of progress. Storyteller only makes you start from the start of the current chapter, losing maybe only an hour or 2 of progress at most. This mode however makes the game somewhat pointless, meaning, it becomes more of a walking/sailing/eating simulator than it does a survival game.
Hands down one of my favorite aspects of Windbound is sadly - the soundtrack. Which fits perfectly, most of the time. That and the beauty of the game, made the journey overall quite pleasant, which could be the reason I kept coming back for more. It just felt nice!
Look, Windbound isn't a terrible game, it's just not necessarily a good one either. There is something about it though that made me come back to it, even while writing this review and having already consolidated my final impressions of it. The problems it has houwever, are impossible to ignore and really ruin the premise that made Windbound sound like a game to watch out for.