Windbound, by Devs 5 Lives Studios and published by Deepsilver (Conan Exiles, Metro Series, Dead Island), is a single-player survival RPG where you awaken on a strange island having survived a horrendous fierce storm that saw your boat sunk and your tribe vanish. With an intriguing mystery lying in front of you, let’s get adventuring!
In Windbound you play as Kara, a strong and determined female warrior who must now use her crafting and hunting skills in order to survive and journey onwards from island to island, slowly unravelling the secrets that lie before her.
There are a couple of ways to play Windbound. Firstly there is Survivalist whereby if you die you only keep the items you have in your ‘held’ inventory, return to chapter 1 and face a standard combat difficulty. Secondly, there is Storyteller mode where you keep your full inventory upon death, retain chapter progression and the combat difficulty is slightly reduced. The best bit about your decision here is that you can change the difficulty at any time during the game.
With no boat, food or tools, it is down to you to uncover the beautiful island’s rich resources. Through careful exploration, you can locate and gather the materials required to begin crafting weapons, tools and equipment. You must use your wit and skill in order to prioritise what you need to do next as resources are limited. Talking of limitations, you can also only hold so much in your backpack as well, however, this does expand as you unlock new skills and abilities later on in the game.
Each island holds its own key to a mystery and unexpected revelations however it is the curiosity of it all that drives you to craft a boat and begin your expedition on the challenging seas towards the next faintly glowing light that you can see on the horizon.
Travelling between islands in itself can be treacherous with obstacles such as coral reefs, rocks, hostile sea life and storms that are all out to get the unwary sailor. I must say I loved the sailing mechanic in Windbound, having in the past sailed boats myself, 5 Lives Studios have the physics behind it all spot on. Sailing is one of those things in life where it is easy to get the hang of but tricky to master, especially with the changeable wind speed and direction.
Whilst exploring further islands and the scattered ruins that lie across their lands, you will come across unique environments, resources and creatures that will challenge you to make the best decisions in the heat of the moment. Should you stay and fight or should you run?!
As you progress further into the story you can upgrade and craft more superior tools and weapons as well as better boats to make the crossings between islands a lot safer. I quickly upgraded my simple canoe to a catamaran complete with sail and, possibly a little recklessly being made of wood, a pot with a campfire to cook my food on.
There is a lot to explore in Windbound and I really enjoyed the sense of not exactly knowing what I needed to do next. Your will to survive and determination to succeed is your driving force.
The graphics on Windbound are mesmerising, utilising a gorgeous painted effect on everything you see around you, it runs very smoothly for sure. The various landscapes that you come across appear in the distance as large menacing objects that don’t give away what they are until you are too close to turn back. The sea itself is wonderfully animated and you can almost feel every crest as you sail towards your waypoint. Add to that the night and day cycle that makes way for eerie shadows and uncertainty if you will see the next day, they have certainly made a good job in this department.
The soundtrack, as ever, provides the ambience to the situation and sets the mood of what is happening onscreen. Calm waters lend to a soothing piano melody while dramatic tribal music accompanies you when you are in a battle. The haunting scores are amazing when exploring gloomy spooky islands that are encased in fog and the way that the low bassy digeridoo plays when you are close to something mystical is a great touch.
The sound effects in Windbound are equally on par with the soundtrack. Each animal and monster has it’s own unique sounds, I particularly liked the interaction with the long-eared rabbit looking creature that was in fact the sound designer slowly laughing and sped up.
Now, this is a good one. Unless you keep on dying repeatedly, something that can be avoided with a bit of tact, Windbound is insanely addictive. There is something about the storyline, character and thrill of sailing that kept me captivated for hours on end.
Windbound, to sum it up, is like a mixture of Breath of the Wild and Moana. The whole mother earth style tale, using nature to your advantage and adventuring is brilliant. If you want survival, immersion and a brilliant storyline then this game will not disappoint,
I award Windbound the prestigious Thumb Culture Platinum Award. You’re welcome! 😉
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.