There have been many comments, as soon as the game was revealed just a few months ago, regarding Windbound and its in a certain sense marked resemblance to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild. In fact, if we had based only on the first videos arrived on the net, we would have had the impression of finding ourselves in front of a clone of the Nintendo pearl, with a mammoth open world to explore far and wide, on land and sea, procuring weapons. and power-ups to get stronger, while we also think about filling our belly. Of course, a similar comparison would have been risky even if only remotely, yet the first impact with the Windbound images has aroused this feeling in more than one user. Fortunately, it only takes a few seconds of play to realize that the production of 5 Lives Studios is of a different kind, a navigation-based survival game that has proved in many ways a pleasant surprise.
Windbound does not introduce us to the game with many words, indeed, none. The short opening video shows us Land defence, our protagonist, shipwrecked with her boat due to a strange storm, and then wake up without any explanation on the shore of an unknown land. Without knowing what happened to her companions and how she got there, a continuous one begins for the girl struggle for survival, but which turns into a journey not only through the waters and the archipelago, but also within an ancient history. Driven by her instincts and unknown forces, Kara finds herself without a boat and without any tools. His island adventure begins here, facing the inaccessible waters of the forgotten islands, creating his own boat, hunting animals for food and resources, but also exploiting the flora for the same purposes.
Our goal, however, in addition to mere survival, will not be clear right away, but slowly the canvas will be woven revealing a really interesting background. For all islands, which are procedurally generated and placed for each chapter, there are scattered towers on top of which we will find some details keys in the shape of a shell. Each chapter will see us collect 3, which will enhance our pendant and allow us to open a particular portal. The game chapters there are in total 5, and each of them will make us retrace the steps of the ancient history of those islands and their civilization ... but also of the seashell spirits who lived there.
The real story is told to us in textual form from the towers that we will reach, and in a visual way with details murals which will be revealed to us at the end of each chapter, once we pass through the portal. After each chapter, there is always a very particular part of the game, which will put your navigational skills to the test: the crossings. Clearly, like the game chapters themselves, the difficulty of the crossings will be increasing, with the waves, rocks and more giving us a hard time. Clearly, we won't go into narrative details for spoiler reasons. After each crossing we may use the in-game currency (i Marine Fragments) to purchase "blessings“, Useful for improving some aspects of Kara. These special altars will be available even if, sadly, you succumb and start the chapter all over again.
"Come on baby, craft my fire"
As mentioned, much of the gameplay is focused on maritime exploration, but also on land, and especially on the crafting. Each island we visit will have a different conformation, and the materials, flora and fauna that we can find are always different. Some islands will be rich in bamboo, on others we will be able to find dozens of sticks, on others we will even be able to find raw metal! However, there is always a preceding step, and know that to obtain many of these materials, you will have to first create a suitable tool to pick it up (like a hatchet for wood, or a shovel for clay). Some materials will be available immediately thanks to the small knife that we have supplied with deafult, but what we can achieve with it is destined not to be enough very soon. Even the fire it will play a very important part, which will allow us to cook food, but also to create or shape other materials (such as turning animal skins into leather). Clearly the recipes and materials needed to obtain certain items will not be available immediately, but they will unlock when you get certain materials.
also the weaponry play a decisive role in the game, however hunt and above all defend oneself from creatures that inhabit the archipelago, from the most harmless to the decidedly more lethal ones. In addition to food, you will also be able to obtain materials to create weapons and fabrics. Some weapons, particularly powerful ones that we could almost define "unique", also exploit gems in the construction, which can be extracted even if they are not very common. Finally, some items of clothing will give us some interesting bonuses.
I will survive
Even if, on balance, a little skill is enough and the game could end even without too many upgrades, Windbound has few but effective survival features. In addition to crafting, which we have focused on, the game published by Deep Silver will see us forced to feed ourselves, as well as to heal ourselves. In addition to the life bar we have a very special yellow bar, which will not only mark ours bunting (with an undercarriage that will wear out with further effort if we finish it), but also the fame: the hungrier we will be, the more the maximum capacity of the bar will decrease, forcing us to eat often to remain vigorous and resistant. Cooking, mushrooms and berries (the latter two consumables also on site) therefore become indispensable in order not to succumb, and it is better to consume them in a short time instead if carried with you ... since food is subject to spoilage, both raw and cooked. Too long a wait will spoil and become unusable the hard-earned food.
Another strictly survival basic question concerns inventory: from the first moments we will understand that space will be indispensable… e always too little. In addition to the objects held "in hand", we will only be able to carry a bag with us, and therefore a limited quantity of the various materials, foods and equipment. To overcome this problem we can also take advantage of the containers created on our boat, or racks where to keep other bags and exchange them. Proper inventory and equipment management equals faster and safer progression.
Warrior and navigator
While it might seem like a simple game, Windbound is the right complex, even when it comes to the combat and navigation. With the triggers of the pad (in case you use this, and we have tested the PlayStation 4 version) we will manage the aiming of melee and ranged weapons, with the possibility of also dodge. Especially in the initial stages, the weapons available will not inflict much damage, and therefore you will need to be very careful, take advantage of the environment to cover and / or escape, or maybe refresh yourself to continue at a later time. Some creatures in particular, land or sea, are particularly grim to knock down, with even the potential to inflict massive damage and altered status, some even at incredible distances.
Navigation in any case, it remains the flagship of Windbound: building better and better ships, equipping them and so on is only part of the job (because it is work, including collecting, studying and so on), because navigating will be a real separate game. Accuracy and physics with which the effects of the wind have been reproduced are commendable, with the direction (variable) that will have a decisive influence on our routes. Tensioning and hoisting the sails, rotating and taking particular directions, making sure that the boat is balanced even in weight so as not to overturn it at the slightest turn, are all characteristics that we feel we can promote with flying colors. Navigation therefore proves to be an ever-new challenge, as well as decisive for the success of the game. However keeping a "low profile" can still be a pay off strategy: a simple wooden canoe is much narrower, and can “dribble” rocks, nasty fish and obstacles in a more natural way (without taking up much space).
It does not spray!
Survival games are titles of a medium-high complexity, even when they are held at acceptable levels in terms of the number of possible actions and constructions, as well as being variable. However Windbound presents us with a particular choice, which we can do at the beginning of the game and change at any time: we can play the game in a more human mode, where dying will make us restart from the beginning of the chapter with the inventory still with us (but unfortunately not the boat), or in "survival" mode, which at each death will strip us of all the objects in our possession (except the aforementioned objects "in hand") and will make us start again from chapter 1. Clearly even the fights are more difficult, and the punitive being of the game reaches extreme levels, also due to some camera bugs in exploration and combat phases, or some general imperfections on terrain and objects.
If you are not a masochist, and you are still open to new videogame experiences if you are not an expert in survival, Windbound can prove to be a fair compromise, even if a little patience is needed to become familiar, especially because apart from the basic commands not much will be explained to us. The game interface, especially the inventory and crafting menu, could also be created to be more intuitive.
On the visual level Windbound shows a graphic poetic in animated style, which makes good in the phases on the ground, limps with the polygonal models of envoirement and creatures, but which once again it gives its best in the water, even if there is something more to say about the latter: this adventure is fundamentally based on navigation, and as pleasant as the foam effect is, complete with a trail left behind us by our boat ... there are no splashes . Whether there are high waves, flat calm or the hell of a crossing, there are no splashes of water. Such a pity. It is not a question of a split zero, mind you, because a minimum of white foam rises from the keel when we sail the sea ... but nothing more.
Last mention should be made for the sound compartment. For the entire game we will never hear Kara speak, nor anyone else, so there are no voiceovers to judge, unless we want to calculate two or three lines of pain or joy that come out during the game or the videos. The music tracks are 3 or 4 in total, always the same, which we will learn easily but which unfortunately will get bored almost immediately. Very welcome however the musical "theme" dedicated to each creature more dangerous than you encounter, which changes according to the animal itself (adding these small themes, you will have more tracks of the general soundtrack). Full Spanish localization is a very welcome pro, especially given the complexity.