Windbound Review - Tries Too Hard
September 12th, 2020
I might get some flak for this, but while I enjoyed Breath of the Wild, I felt like something was missing from the game. It's a great foundation, but it felt like there was some depth missing from the game. Exploration was awesome, but items and dungeons were pretty disappointing.
You can feel Windbound's inspiration from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild from the moment you start it up. The graphics and art style is very similar, as is the music. A subtle, on and off background type of music. Even the main character has some similarities to Link, except gender-swapped.
Windbound's biggest problem is how the game comes across as trying to be a Legend of Zelda game that tries to make up for what the last Zelda game was lacking. Mainly deep systems and difficulty. However, it falls completely flat. It's a hodgepodge of several different, unpolished systems trying to over-compensate for Breath of the Wild seeming to be a bit too simple at times. There's a crafting system, which feels kind of clunky and unrewarding. What you need to make stuff is easily available. I found a metal spear weapon in a vase after about 30 minutes of playing. There was no sense of working hard to scavenge the materials to craft a better weapon, I found it in a vase. Which is a perfect summary of what's wrong with the crafting system.
Battles are quick clunky, It's not very responsive and your best bet is to just get a long range melee weapon, like a spear, and attack from a distance. It's just some doding and some slow attacks.
Windbound also seems to take a lot from Wind Waker, as there's a lot of sailing around by boat. You can't swim very far at all, so it's all up to your boat. The first one is made of grass, and you can find it anywhere. But it takes damage very easily, just from running up against shore.
I can understand what Windbound was trying to do, it makes sense. There's a lot of long-time Legend of Zelda fans who have had difficult games in the past, who were disappointed in how easy Breath of the Wild was. I am one of them, I beat the final boss of Breath of the Wild on my first time, and I was left salty because the higher difficulty is DLC. You would think Windbound would be a dream for a gamer like me, but it fails because it tries to do too much and hasn't polished enough of what's there.
Windbound is an interesting concept, I can see the Legend of Zelda influence very clearly. But it's like they were disenfranchised with the original Breath of the Wild and over-compensated by adding a ton of different systems to make up for BotW being somewhat simple. Maybe Windbound is for you, if you liked Breath of the Wild and feel like it needs health, stamina, and hunger bars, worse combat and a crafting system that feels tedious.
It's too bad, Windbound has a great sense of exploration, I found myself climbing on high points, trying to figure out where to explore next. I felt danger when the sun went down and big monsters came out. But I didn't want to pursue exploring because I didn't want to have to bother with the rest of the systems added onto the game. Windbound could have been great if they cut some of the systems down, refined what's there, and just made it more of a difficult BotW clone.