Windbound review: Survive and sail your ship as the best warrior

If you've ever wondered if you would survive on a desert island, Windbound might solve your doubts. This indie game created by the Australian team 5 Lives Studios, takes survival and adventure RPG to a new level.

A twist on the survival genre

Windbound offers a new perspective on the survival genre by focusing on hunting and nomadic exploration by upgrading your craft. The game also offers the possibility to replay it over and over again as every decision you make and the dynamism of the wildlife on each island will lead you to new experiences.

The most interesting thing about the title is its absolute freedom when exploring the world, the intuitive "crafting menu" and above all (something that has especially caught my attention) the Vigor bar that we will talk about later.

Being a very balanced mix between a "survival-crafting game" and a "single player open world", Windbound is a 100% immersive experience that will remind you a lot of games like Breath of the Wild or Wind Walker with its touches of pure survival like The Long Dark or Don't Starve, I would even dare to compare it to Rime in certain aspects.

Get behind the controls of your ship and sail away

In terms of design, Windbound has a system that generates beautifully rendered islands that give the feeling of being handmade, like brushstrokes on a freshly painted picture. In addition, its fauna and flora regenerates almost randomly making each game experience unique both in terms of exploration and the way players choose to dominate the seas.

Ship building is completely free giving the player the possibility to create their ships as they wish.

The better your ship is the further you can go, so take your time. Also sailing is not so simple, you must understand the waters and let yourself be carried by the wind, in Windbound there are no powers that allow you to control your ship so easily.

A warrior who must survive

Kara is a strong and determined hunter of a tribe that sails the seas aboard small and beautiful sailboats. After a strong storm Kara ends up shipwrecked at sea arriving at a mysterious place called "The Forbidden Islands".

Without food, tools or a boat that can return her home, Kara must use all her wits to survive, gathering food, hunting creatures of all kinds and building boats with which to explore the islands and discover the past of your tribe.

Windbound will put you on the ropes

At the very beginning Windbound gives us the option to choose the way we want to pass the game:

  • Survival mode: in which if you die you keep only the objects held in the inventory spaces, you return to chapter 1 and the combat difficulty is standard. This mode is a real challenge, if you love survival games you should start with this one.
  • Story mode: if you die you keep all your inventory, the progress of the chapters is preserved and the combat difficulty is reduced.

The advantage is that you can change mode whenever you want so if you see that the survival mode is too difficult you can always switch to story mode.

The game doesn't go with stories when you start playing, by this I mean that there is no tutorial mode but as you discover materials and supplies the game will explain little by little what to do with them, it is a progressive learning mode that helps you retain the concepts and mechanics of the game much better than with any boring "tutorial".

Thanks to this we will learn how to create weapons, tools and even that raw meat is not good for your health. We will also learn that things like strategy and stealth are essential when hunting because many animals flee easily (and others can kill you in two blows....)

A game more realistic than it seems

A curiosity that I would like to highlight is that when creating utensils and weapons you need special materials that you will have to create with certain "intuition". For example, when you have to create objects with leather there is no tutorial that tells you how to get that material. You must use logic: hunt an animal to get its skin, then make a fire and cure the leather in the fire, if you don't know that leather is obtained in this primitive way or you have never played other survivals it is very difficult not to resort to some guide to help you, but don't worry, the item menu will give you the necessary clues of what you need.

The menu and gameplay of Windbound is very simple and intuitive. On the screen we can see different shortcuts to use the tools or take supplies and how to access the crafting menu where they will explain step by step how to create different tools and prepare food. Finally we have one of my favorite elements, the Vigor bar. If there is something that has surprised me for good about Windbound, apart from its simple gameplay, is that everything counts when it comes to "losing your strength".

If you explore, hunt, or create items your stamina bar will gradually decrease, in other words, you will get tired and hungry. If the stamina bar reaches zero, your life bar will progressively drop until you die of starvation, so be careful, always try to have supplies on hand and do not spend too much running or sailing to places where there is not enough food.

This little "realistic touch" of survival makes the player is forced to be well equipped and have patience when exploring because even if you have another island in sight if you do not equip yourself well you might not have enough energy to move to another island or return.

Graphics and sound that won't leave you indifferent

In terms of graphics and design, Windbound can be proud to expose its influences to the Legend of Zelda so evident, that aesthetics of bright colors and original creatures fits perfectly with its story full of magic and mystery. The piano will be the main instrument of the soundtrack and the sound effects are well chosen and balanced.

The Best

  • Undoubtedly, its gameplay stands out
  • Surviving is a real challenge, the difficulty is balanced and is 100% accessible both for people who have never played a survival game and for the most experienced
  • It is undoubtedly one of the most interesting indie titles of the year.

The Worst

  • At the beginning the stamina bar drops too easily, especially when swimming, so you have to be careful. Also the inventory spaces will be quite limited at the beginning so you should think well how and with what to equip yourself in each situation. But, although I don't consider it a bad thing, it's good to keep it in mind if it's the first time you play a survival game like this

In short, if you like exciting third-person survival games, with a nice design and an excellent soundtrack, you'll love Windbound. Survive, explore and discover the secrets of the arcane relics.

We have made the review of Windbound thanks to a download code for PS4 provided by Koch Media.

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