I know this might sound shocking but it was only a few years ago that I played my first The Legends of Zelda game, shock horror right? Well after diving into Breath of The Wild and moving onto The Wind Waker, I got pulled into the magical world that these games had to offer and just fell in love with the art style. Which brings me onto my next point, wouldn’t it be amazing if we had something like that but on different platforms? A game that was in some ways identical but for the PlayStation and Xbox seeing as The Legend of Zelda is Nintendo exclusive. Well, I think I might just have found that in a little game called Windbound.
It’s an action-adventure game with survival elements thrown into it. You play as Kara who is a warrior of a tribe but after a fierce storm, you become shipwrecked and separated from the rest of your tribe. You must adapt, explore and navigate through the seas and explore numerous islands collecting resources to stay alive and find your way back home. The game is filled with mysteries, ruins and many locations for you to sink your teeth into. Collect resources to be able to craft weapons, tools and different boats to help you on your journey. The story in the game is a little lacking in a sense there is one there but it doesn’t present itself to you or that’s how I felt. You stumble across various things and get a bit of dialogue or text that slowly unravels bits of the story which for me, didn’t grab my attention.
Like most survival games you’ll start with nothing and have to find resources to build things and get better gear, not only this but finding food is a big factor in Windbound as you lose stamina due to hunger and using your stamina and if that gets too low you start losing health. Living off the land is a big selling point for Windbound and is one that I enjoyed as it added a sense of emergency to the game because you would need to make sure you have food on you at all times or know where to find it. After a while food spoils which is another interesting mechanic, that means you always have to be on the hunt or lookout for fresh food. Exploring the world is made easy when you get your boat, this can be upgraded and becomes your home away from home, it can be used to navigate from island to island as well as used for cooking food and storing resources. As you progress through the game you’ll be able to personalise your boat to your liking and make it more durable to the seas and coral riffs that surround some of the islands.
Your boat does take damage and that’s the last thing you want. If your boat breaks you’ll be stuck a sea and when swimming in the seas your stamina drains quicker which in turn could easily turn bad as when you run out of stamina you start losing health. Windbound is amazing as you can explore everything you see, if it is visible to you then you can travel to it and explore it. This made me happy as I love a game that encourages exploration it’s just trying to find the time to sink enough hours into it, you know what I mean. Weapons and tools can be crafted and made better when you find better resources to make them more sturdy and durable. My biggest problems with Windbound are the combat system and crafting/inventory menus, the menus are so annoying to navigate through and are confusing at first but takes up a lot of time opening them and closing them and trying to find everything you’re looking for, I feel that they could have been made easier and more appealing to use but that could just be me being picky.
When you open the menu you have both the inventory and crafting system available, however only one can be used at a time, instead of being able to scroll across to the crafting menu while looking in your inventory you have to press R1 which cuts off your inventory like I said it sounds silly but I don’t like spending a lot of time-shifting through menus when I could be playing. Then the last big problem is the combat itself, it just feels sluggish, unfinished and buggy to the point where it feels unplayable. I have died or come close to death so many times because the dodge button didn’t register or seemed delayed and the lock-on system just feels dated, some of the enemies are quick-moving so trying to get a hit in when Kara’s combat feels slow is annoying and your kind of find yourself trying to find loops in the animations just to get hits off. It irritates me because this is the one thing that makes this game go from being amazing to average.
As you have all these awesome mechanics and making to be an awesome game but it is floored when the combat is so basic and broken that I just find myself avoiding it or trying to find exploits in the enemy’s movements. Seeing as Kara is meant to be a warrior, she doesn’t seem like it when you’re facing off against Gorehorn and are kicked to the kerb before you have even started because attacks don’t land for some reason or you just get caught in a loop where your hit, downed then get back up to have the same thing done again. Frustration to the max. If they can get this fixed before launch or have a patch after launch that would be amazing but for this one issue makes the game unenjoyable to play. I do however like the bow and arrows and the different weapons you can use and then it’s even better trying to get the stronger versions of these weapons to hit heavy and do more damage. Which again incorporates the whole explore, adapt and survive elements that this game is built on.
Graphically, Windbound is gorgeous it’s one of those games that I could just sit there for hours taking in the scenery and cell-shaded design. Each creature you come across is unique and looks amazing and Kara herself is awesome. The way that each island is different helps shake up gameplay and makes you want to explore that little bit more and of course the thrill of coming across something new that can be used to your advantages. When sailing on the wide-open ocean you can’t help but feel so relaxed and one with the sea as you peaceful navigate through the water, it’s nice as well that you can customise your boat to your liking. The boat in this game is like the second character, kind of like the Jackdaw in AC: Black Flag, you will find yourself using it a lot and when you have equipped it with the right stuff it can be used to store goods, cook food and get from A to B quicker, not only this but by finding better resources you can build sturdy boats. Audio-wise, it comes with a relaxing soundtrack that helps add to the game when exploring and sailing the seas, when in combat you get a more dramatic melody that adds to the fight but all in all the game has a very pleasant soundtrack. The main character doesn’t talk like Link and just makes noises when hurt, running and so on, you can hear ominous noises when you are by points of interest which help you locate objectives and hidden things.
Windbound does have some replay value but not a lot. If you explore as you go on your first time around you will probably get the most out of the game and not need to play it again. If you want that platinum trophy it might take you some time as you can play the game in two different modes, this being story difficulty which caters for players who just want to play the game for the story and when they die they get to keep their stuff and continue from the point they died at and a survival mode which is very challenging as this is like a permadeath situation because when you die you lose everything and go back to chapter one in the story so it technically makes you start again. Which is very frustrating seeing as one of my biggest bugs with the game is its clunky combat. It is very easy to die against big enemies due to this.
After watching the trailer for Windbound and seeing some gameplay I honestly thought I was going to get The Legend of Zelda on the PlayStation 4 or a game that is so similar to it that it feels like it is. Sadly, however, I feel like I have got some cheap knock off and an unfinished attempt at something that if had more time and maybe a bit more attention to the small things could have been something great that could have rivalled The Legend of Zelda itself. It feels heavily influenced by the Nintendo giant but falls flat when the core combat mechanics are just not up to standards and makes for a lacklustre experience. Don’t get me wrong it had some redeeming features like the exploration, survival elements and the peaceful sailing of the deep blue but that can only take you so far when it comes to the overall experience that Windbound offers. Maybe it was just me but I do heavily feel let down by the combat and is one of the main reasons this game didn’t live up to my expectations. However, if you can work with it or see past the combat problems that I experienced then buckle in for some enjoyable sailing, brilliant visuals and enchanting islands because this is where Windbound shines and makes playing it worthwhile. For these reasons, I’m going to give Windbound a score of 6 out of 10.
Windbound is available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Google Stadia, and PC.
This review is based on the PlayStation 4 Version of the game.
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Shipwrecked alone on an uncharted island, explore, adapt and navigate the land and perilous seas to stay alive. As Kara, you are a warrior, caught at sea in a fierce storm, adrift from your tribe. Thrown from your boat, at the mercy of the turbulent waters, you are tossed on to the shores of the Forbidden Islands, a mysterious paradise. With no boat, no food or tools, just the will and skill to survive, uncover this beautiful island’s rich resources. Craft tools and weapons to hunt and defend yourself against nature itself with its wild and fantastical creatures. Whilst exploring further islands and the scattered ruins across their lands, secrets of the past and glimpses of the future are revealed. Unravel the mystery behind them all and you may find more than just your way home.
Product Currency: GBP
Product Price: 24.99
Product In Stock: SoldOut