Windbound - PC (Steam) Review

windbound_splash Windbound - PC (Steam) Review

It's hard to play this game without imagining how awesome it could have been...

  • System: PlayStation 4, PC (Steam), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
  • Publisher: Deep Silver
  • Developer: 5 Lives Studios
  • Release Date: Aug 28, 2020

Windbound - Official Gameplay Trailer

Who it Caters to

windbound_splash Windbound - PC (Steam) Review
If you fancy a sandbox adventure that can be both relaxing and challenging, then this is an excellent choice. Windbound is a simple game about exploring the ocean to ultimately solve a mystery about a lost civilization, and it's up to you how much time you want to dedicate to each island. Sadly for some of you, there's something particularly important you need in order to better enjoy this title: patience.

What to Expect

windbound_splash Windbound - PC (Steam) Review
Given Windbound's nature, you can expect a lot of frustration. We'll be talking about what we were expecting and what you should expect in all the other sections, so for now, let's just say this is a good indie game that apparently was too afraid of being a great game. As you play, there will definitely be a lot of "I wish they had done that other thing instead of this" moments, so be ready for that, too!


windbound_splash Windbound - PC (Steam) Review
If you're creating a sandbox game about exploring islands, it better looks good! Thankfully, Windbound does an excellent job when it comes to the landscapes and color palette, especially because those are two of the reasons you feel hooked to it. Sometimes you're enjoying the sun while gathering resources on this beautiful bamboo island, and a few minutes later you're fighting the brave waves on a foggy, stormy night. Can we get more biomes and animals, please?

Sound, Music

windbound_splash Windbound - PC (Steam) Review
What a lovely soundtrack Windbound has! There are not that many tunes, but it doesn't matter; the music perfectly suits the mood of every zone, and the transitions are really nice and clean. In fact, even those musicless moments between tracks are priceless, because that's when the sound effects shine!

In case you didn't know, Kara is the only human character, so there are no dialogues, just grunts.


windbound_splash Windbound - PC (Steam) Review
After being attacked by a giant crustacean, Kara wakes up alone—yet alive— in front of a mysterious portal. Upon entering, she appears on a lonely island, where soon she finds the Oar of the Ancestors, an item that allows her to craft a canoe to explore the ocean and, hopefully, find a way home. That's the premise of the game, and you can play it in 2 difficulties: Survivalist and Storyteller.

As a survival game, it's a challenging adventure where you go back to the starting point every time you die, and you only get to keep your key items plus 7 held items. If you play it for the story, you respawn on a random island with all your inventory items, but at least you maintain your chapter progress—basically, you only lose your boat.

windbound_splash Windbound - PC (Steam) Review
Windbound is divided into 5 chapters, and your objective on each of them is to find 3 pillars that, once you interact with all 3 of them, grant you access to a temple that teleports you to a place where you are told a story through murals. As it happens with most indie games nowadays, the story is ambiguous enough to look deep, yet it lacks a proper explanation since these murals are ultimately up to your own interpretation—and the same goes for the cryptic texts you get when visiting the pillars or other important places to this ancient civilization.

The main issue here is that, on paper, Windbound is a great adventure that can be experienced as a survival game but also as a more relaxed, explorative experience. However, in reality, you're playing a game with enough good ideas to pique your interest, but most of them need a little more polishing not to feel bland. There are only 8 or so aggressive animals in the game, and once you know how to kill them, they don't pose a threat anymore. That's because the combat mechanics are too simplistic, but also because most of these are alone in the wilds. For a survival game, the only true danger is your own hunger: if you're hungry, you have no stamina, and if you have no stamina, you can't fight back... or run away.

windbound_splash Windbound - PC (Steam) Review
If you ask us what is Windbound about, we'd say it's about sailing and exploring. So, why is the sailing part so bad?! For a survivalist, the experience is vital, because that's how you know what's best for you in every situation. If you want to feel safe in the ocean, although it sounds counterintuitive, you're better off with a small canoe than a fancy sailing boat. With a canoe, you can row your way to wherever you want to go; sailing boats, however, are incredibly troublesome to maneuver and, sometimes, they don't move at all because the wind is not on your side.

Between chapters, there's a long corridor—an obstacle course, really—you need to sail through before reaching the portal to the next portion of the game, and it gets more difficult every time. With a canoe, getting to the other side is fairly easy; with a sailing boat, though? Good look avoiding all those pointy rocks! Sailing should be the most fun part of this game, especially if you spent that much time gathering resources to craft what in theory is a far better option...

Honey's Gameplay Consensus:

windbound_splash Windbound - PC (Steam) Review
We did have fun playing Windbound, and we definitely felt challenged by it, but we feel that's because of our own competitive/perfectionist personality and not because the gameplay is actually addictive. Sadly, every chapter feels the same, only that you get to explore a bigger part of the ocean; the islands are further apart, and there's more of them so it's harder to find the pillars, plus you can find a new biome as you progress.

If the story was less cryptic and really had a deeper meaning, if Kara had more personality, if there were more monsters, biomes, and craftable items... then Windbound could be a great survival game. In its current state, it's just a shadow of its own potential.

Honey's Pros:

  • Beautiful graphics and an enchanting soundtrack.
  • You can go from Survival to Adventure (and vice versa) at any time.
  • Simple, yet incredibly challenging.

Honey's Cons:

  • Unless you die a lot or take your time exploring, Windbound feels like it's shorter than it should.
  • Some bugged animations when gathering or crafting.
  • You're better off with a canoe; maneuvering a saling boat against the wind is the opposite of fun.

Honey's Final Verdict:

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If you're looking for a few hours of challenging gameplay, then go for it! Otherwise, you might feel like the content you get is not enough both in terms of quality and quantity.

Don't get us wrong, we love Windbound's concept, and we do think it's an OK game, all it needs are better sailing mechanics and a little variety in terms of enemies and crafting (please, give us an update!). Other than that, we enjoyed learning from our own failures and discovering new islands, although there are a lot of things we still don't understand about this ancient civilization. Time to play it again, maybe?

windbound_splash Windbound - PC (Steam) Review

Author: Yaz L.

Hey, there! I'm a soon-to-be marine biologist who just happens to love video games, dream pop music, and BL/yaoi stuff. When I was a kid, I lived in Colombia for 3 years and now I'm a sucker for hot chocolate with cheese. My favorite treat while watching anime!

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