Windbound Review – Against The Wind

Windbound is an excellent island. It’s just a shame that it’s a poor archipelago.

For my first few hours with the new roguelike survival game from Five Lives Studios, I walked a knife’s edge–blissful relaxation on one side, speedily encroaching anxiety on the other. You would be forgiven for being lulled into a false sense of security. The sunny skies and gorgeous ocean are inviting. The art style charmingly stakes out a familiar middle ground: cartoonish gloss, realistic proportions. The monsters are memorably designed, and even the most imposing are at least a little cute. But as welcoming as it can look, the red and yellow gauges at the top of the screen are a constant reminder that this world isn’t friendly.

You’ll stumble around early on, unable to do much of anything. Okay, you have grass, but what can you do with grass? Okay, you crafted a grass rope, but what can you do with a grass rope? You may try to wade into the water in hopes of swimming to the closest island, but your stamina gauge will quickly dash those hopes. Deplete it and you’ll wake up on the beach, back where you started. Eventually you’ll find a shrine on the island where you’ll receive an oar, which is, in some way, legendarily significant. Locating this artifact will unlock some new crafting recipes. Turns out you can craft a grass boat with enough rope and some elbow grease.

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