It was a rocky start, but now it’s nothing but open seas, that is how I would sum this game up if I had to in one sentence, but luckily for me, I have much more than one sentence to use, and Windbound deserves so much more than just that.
I’ll get the bad out of the way first, I looked forward to this game coming out months before it was released, it was a beautiful looking open-world sailing/survival game, with touches of inspiration from Zelda: Breath of the wild, but that was a good thing.
But when the game released and I downloaded and played it on my Switch, it was not the fun-filled adventure I had hoped for. It was a test of my patience, in the first 2 hours of playtime the game outright crashed 5 times and glitched more times than I can count, I lost my entire inventory multiple times sending me back an hour each time, and sometimes losing items that only appear once in the entire game, but I really wanted to love this game so I held on, I waited, not patiently I admit but after another month of waiting the developers released an update to correct the problems.
But oh how the wait was worth it.
It initially took me a few minutes to relax and enjoy the game as I was still constantly expecting the game to crash, but once I realized it was OK i was loving it, you wake up stranded and alone on a desert island as a woman named Kara, she was separated from her island-hopping tribe and is forced to survive, from the first island you can see the effort and passion that went into this game, the islands are each a different paradise, from the traditional sandy beach and palm trees to the deep wooded areas on others, each comes with its own beauty and danger.
On every island there are different types of animals or some you could call monsters, from the cute Bleenk who looks like a small purple bunny to the stealthy and dangerous Gloomharrow, each creature has its own unique looks and also its own sound, to explain, each creature in Windbound is prefaced by an instrument that starts to play along with the music that plays as you explore, so you will know what lurk around the next corner if you can recognize their instrument, now I love this because as the game music plays. You meet new creatures, it feels like a whole orchestra starts up as each different instrument plays for each creature. It also gives finality to each as you hunt and kill them to survive each new instrument suddenly stops bringing a harsher realization to the effect you have on the world around you.
The shipbuilding mechanic is very enjoyable, you start off just making a canoe from the thick grass you find all around you to get to the next island, and as you explore you find bamboo which allows you to build a bigger boat by placing a platform across two canoes, allowing you to explore even further, as you work your way through the game you find stronger resources to make larger boats and new items to make better weapons and equipment to survive.
But for each area you must find and collect 3 nautilus shells, each residing atop a large tower which you must climb, each one collected tells a short piece of information to help to tell the story of what happened to the world, once collected you must bring them all to a shell that is the size of a house and has been turned into an altar where you must present them and then being magically transported to a new area.
In between each area, you must pass what is called the Crossing, a test that you and your boat are put through where you must face huge waves, Sharks and rocks piercing the surface of the water like daggers, the music that is played as you make this arduous journey is an energetic piano piece to preface the real danger and challenge that you are facing.
In each crossing, you are shown more history of the world telling the sad story of what happened to all the nautilus that used to inhabit the sea.
Fortunately at the end of each of the crossings, you are given a gift to help you along your way and to make the journey easier
Even with the memory of the month of waiting for the update I had to endure, this was worth that wait, Windbound is a wonderful adventure on the open ocean, and I think it deserves more attention. I hope you will give many more people the enjoyment that I felt.