By Michael "Magic Mike" Dumee on August 28, 2020
I really like a great adventure, especially when it's a survival game or at least contains survival elements. In my experience, it's these games that always offer you a decent challenge. So when Windbound was announced, I thought it would be a game right up my alley. So, let's check it out and see if it is.
Before you start your adventure, you can choose a difficulty setting: Survivalist or Story Teller. Story Teller is the setting that makes things a bit easier for you. Your inventory and chapter progress will be retained upon death and combat difficulty is reduced. For the brave souls out there, the game offers the Survivalist mode. Only items in "Held" inventory are retained upon death, you will return to the first chapter upon death. Also, the combat difficulty is somewhat higher. So, if you feel brave (or lucky), go for survivalist, I know I do. But if you're not sure, or this is your first time playing a survival game, don't be ashamed to pick Story Teller. It's a nice way to get to know the game, without running the risk of having to start all over again if you make a mistake.
So we start this game by being in the water. I'm not sure why, but the main character, a girl named Kara, is floating in the water. But you don't where you are or why. When you wake up in the water, surprisingly you can walk on it. There is a portal in front of you, so should you enter it? Well, there is not much to do otherwise, so yes, let's go! After you enter the portal you will take your first steps on an unknown island and this is where your first chapter starts.
The first chapter is called The Lost Islands and this is absolutely fitting. In this chapter you will visit a lot of islands. First of all to complete the chapter, the main goal is to collect three keystones, so you can open the portal to the next chapter. But secondly, and even more important and fun, you visit these islands in order to collect resources. Yes, I needs lots of stuff, so I can craft more stuff, other stuff, bigger and better stuff!
What's that? You want an example? Okay, I got a pretty one for you. So, you want to travel from island to island, right? Well, you could swim, but you have to consider your stamina, you character is a human being and not a machine, after all. So, instead of swimming and drowning (and subsequently restarting the chapter) be wise and check your menu, so you can discover that you are able to build a boat. with the right resources, that is. Later on, you can make adjustments to your boat, so it will be faster or stronger. I built a mast and a sail, so I don't need to row anymore and use the wind to get around.
The wind element in the game is actually done very well. I always seem to have my eye on the island that makes me sail into the wind. Yes, yes, I of course could choose another direction, pick another island, try it later when the wind has changed, but I don't want to do that. I'm 35 years old, damn it! I'm old enough to make my own decisions and when I decide I want go North, I'll go North! But it's not a problem, because just as in real life, if you know how to sail against the wind, you can do it (luckily I do know how to do this because I'm the son of a skipper).
You'll also want to know about the items that you might or might not loose, depending on your chose difficulty setting. Well, throughout the game you can collect a lot of items and resources. You can carry this stuff in your Held Inventory, or put it in your Bag. I must say during the first chapter I had practically nothing in my bag, because in the Held inventory I can hold like eight things already. Plus, they get categorized automatically, so if you collect more than one bundle of grass, the number will increase, but it will not take up more room in your inventory.
So, does the threat of death only come from drowning or falling down from a mountain? Well, ladies and gentlemen, the answer to this question would be a resounding "no". There are also wild animals that cross your path while you're out exploring. The little ones, like squirrels will be afraid of you and run away, so they are no threat to you.
But there are bigger creatures out there and they are not all that friendly. If they get a glimpse of you, they will start their attack. Fighting back is an option, especially because you might need the remains of defeated animals for resources, but always remember keep an eye on the damage that you are doing. If you see that you do very little damage, it might be wiser to flee, upgrade stuff or build new weapons and try again later.
I wanted to play Windbound because of the survival elements present in the game. It also has a bit of a Zelda look and feel, while at the same time retaining its own style. I like how you have to be smart and make the most out of the resources and items you find. The puzzle element is fun too. The game sort of speaks for itself, but you can easily miss the point at first as to why you have to travel back and forth between locations. Windbound is definitely a great game for every brave explorer out there!