As much as I am a huge fan of the Legend of Zelda series, there has always been one game that stood out above the rest, Wind Waker. I’ve yet to ever try and find another game that is remotely similar to it until I was provided with an early copy of Five Lives Studios Roguelike game, Windbound on the Xbox One (also available on the Switch, PlayStation 4, Stadia and Microsoft Windows) where I realized that maybe, just maybe, a game trying to be like Wind Waker in some ways, isn’t necessarily a very good idea. Windbound has you playing as Kara, who eventually ends up washing ashore on The Forbidden Islands attempting to piece together along the way what exactly has happened to her tribe. The game is incredibly beautiful and does an excellent job of creating a very delightful to the eyes environment. The game provides you with two difficulty settings, Survivalist and Storyteller with the latter being without a doubt a much more casual gameplay experience. For those wanting a more Roguelike experience, the Survivalist difficulty is where you’ll want to start as once you’ll die you’ll lose all of your equipment and is rather brutal in the sense that you actually have the start the entire game over from the very beginning.
On my playthrough I opted for Storyteller and for those looking to appreciate the story without fear of starting all over is what I would absolutely suggest. The gameplay itself takes a lot of hints from Zelda such as being able to lock on to enemies and move around them as well as being able to dodge, however, I felt that Kara’s movements were rather slow and sluggish especially when using weapons such as a spear of which you’ll have to get in quite close to attack any creatures along the way. Fights in the game are very risky in the sense that you won’t be very powerful in this game and you’ll end up risking your health and your hunger which also serves as your stamin where you’ll end up having to take these risks in order to gather food and other supplies along the way. That’s right, this game also takes a page from Breath of the Wild in the sense that you will in fact be having to craft items such as an axe to gather wood or a a pick axe for stone and various other materials. Since Windbound is a game in which you will be on the water you’ll also have to craft your own boat which come in various forms and there are sharks and various other creatures in the water that can not only easily kill you, but also can take out your boat in one hit.
The game is split up into various chapters, each with their own unique islands and creatures along the way. There isn’t any voice acting in the game so cutscenes are rather silent. You’re tasked in each chapter to find three obelisks of which you’ll have to climb which in turn opens up a portal to the next chapter and the next part of the ocean where you’ll once again have to manage your health, stamina, supplies, weapons and making certain that you have a proper boat that can handle the distance. Rowing your boat also uses up stamina, so before you think you can reach that far off island, you might want to make certain that you have proper health along the way. You can swim in this game but I definitely wouldn’t recommend trying to dog paddle your way to a far off island as swimming, much like rowing, also uses up stamina. Windbound does do an excellent job of using it’s chapters to build upon it’s gameplay. So in the first chapter, you’re essentially taught the importance of crafting and using your boat, whereas in the next chapter you’re going to learn just how important survival is as well as maintaining it then in chapter three you’ll learn the importance of combat.
Windbound isn’t a game that is going to be about discovering new areas so much as it is really about progressing through the story and making sure that you are able to keep up with the various gameplay elements along the way. Unlike Breath of the Wild where you were given so much to explore and many unique areas to search through, I didn’t feel that so much here. The areas did seem rather repetitive and yet remarkably beautiful. I really wish Windbound gave me more to do considering the game does come in at a $29.99 price tag. However, for those looking for a beautiful Roguelike version of Zelda that can also be quite relaxing on it’s easy difficulty, Windbound is the game for you.