Tag Archives: Deep Silver

Windbound Review: A Breath Of Fresh Air Or Load Of Old Guff?

Generally speaking, I do enjoy a survival game. Starting with nothing and having to build up your inventory. Search for and gather materials, make basic tools and slowly progress, evolving your weapons. Learn how to craft new items and defend yourself against the evils of the game. Every survival game follows the same basic recipe… and this can be a title’s downfall. Survival games can tend to get a bit ‘samey’ and soon become rather tiresome. So, they need an interesting kick, a spin on the genre that separates it from the many others already available.

Windbound is a new survival game on the market, but is it different enough to stand out against the others? From developer 5 Lives Studios and publisher Deep Silver comes this new title.

You play as Kara, a warrior, who after being caught in a storm is washed up on the shores of a small island (one of many). Separated from your tribe, you have to explore your surroundings, build your resources, discover the secrets of the mysterious islands and hopefully, regroup with your tribe.

In typical survival game fashion, you start with nothing. Waking up on the beach of an island, you begin by gathering the basics, small rocks and dry grass. As you pick up items, you learn new crafting skills, but you’ll soon find yourself pretty much trapped, the island you start on is rather small, though randomly generated each time you play. You’ll soon find an oar… a very special oar. This then opens up the ability to build a boat. But given your lack of resources, your boat is limited to a simple grass canoe. Still, now you can get out there onto the seas and explore what are known as the The Forbidden Islands.

The game is split over several archipelagos and the main aim is to explore each island on each archipelago, find the strange alters that have a connection to the amulet you wear. Once all of the alters have been activated, you can open up the gateway to the next archipelago. But there is a progression system installed to each of the archipelagos and the islands found in them. For instance, the first one you find yourself in really has very little going on. You’ll find bare basic resources and a few wild animals. You start with nothing and gain little more then a pointed stick as a weapon. Still, kill some of the wildlife and they’ll drop new items such as bones and skin. Set up a fire and dry out the skin to turn it into leather, maybe the wildlife dropped some meat, so get that cooking to fend off hunger and top up your health. Soon you’ll be able to upgrade your pointed stick to a bone tipped spear and take on bigger enemies.

WINDBOUND FIRE

Progress to the next archipelago and you’ll find new resources. Bamboo, which can be used to upgrade your vessel. Go from a pretty crappy grass canoe to a more versatile bamboo raft, why not stick some hulls on it to make it more nimble and sturdy, build a sail and use the wind to carry you from island to island. Upgrade to a bow and arrow to take on bigger and more aggressive wildlife. Find even more new resources and so on. Keep on going, slowly upgrading your weapons and boat until you have a pretty mean arsenal and impressive catamaran. You’ll also find in game currency as you explore and inbetween each area, you’ll have the chance to spend that currency on (randomly generated) upgrades to help you in your adventures. Keep moving from island to island, archipelago to archipelago and discover the secrets of the Forbidden Islands.

Windbound is, at heart, a survival game… but it’s also a something a little different to  survival games you may be used to. There’s no base/home building here as you are continually moving from island to island, progressing though each archipelago. You never settle, just keep moving. Things like food management are here, but it really takes a bit more of a backseat over other elements of the game and other survival titles. You’ll probably not really enjoy the sailing aspects of the game either, I certainly didn’t, not at first. But as you progress through the game and learn how to upgrade your vessel, the sailing becomes more of a joy… sometimes, though as you build your vessel bigger and bigger, it becomes much more cumbersome to control. Plus, when I was playing, I found I had to sail into the wind more often than not, which really slows you down.

WINDBOUND BOAT

Truth be told, I found Windbound a little too restrictive as a survival game and seasoned survival gamers may feel the same too. It’s too simplified too linear. There’s no real exploration as each of the islands you visit are really very small all told. You find one, gather some basic resources, active the relic and move on. You spend around ten minutes on some of the larger islands and literal seconds on the smaller ones. Spending most of your time at sea finding the islands than on the actual islands surviving. As you do progress through each archipelago, the islands do become more interesting I admit, but the issue is that they only get really interesting in the final one or two areas.

Plus, there is the lack of game modes here… just the one. There’s a story mode and two difficulties to chose from to play through that story and that’s it. For a survival game, Windbound really lacks punch and the small islands just don’t offer the exploration a title like this should. The game needs a proper free-roam/survival mode where you can discover the game at your own leisure without the story and larger areas to explore too. But with the game deigned as it is with small islands spread over five archipelagos, there’s just not enough here to take in. I honestly found the opening three archipelagos a bit dull, then when the game did finally kick into gear and grab me towards the back end, the credits were rolling. Very much a one and done title for me as there’s just nothing to pull me back into it.

WINDBOUND BOW

Still, saying all of that, I didn’t dislike Windbound. It’s a very nice little game. The obvious compassion to Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and Breath of the Wild games in terms of some of the gameplay elements and graphics are fair I feel, especially the sailing and degrading of weapons and tools. I’m pretty sure that developer 5 Lives Studios were influenced by both games. Windbound features some great weather effects, you can see the dark storm clouds form in the background, lighting flashes away. But do you chance going into the storm to get to the next island or wait it out for the storm to pass? Windbound is full of nice little details like that and as each game is randomly generated, it’ll be different each time you play.

For me, as a bit of a survival game fan, Windbound is just lacking. It needed more meat on its bones, the islands should’ve been bigger with more to explore. Plus the fact you do spend so much of the game at sea, there’s surprisingly little to actually do when you are sailing, no fishing for instance and very few places to explore. It needed more than the one game mode too. I finished the game in about three sittings over three nights, only playing for a few hours at a time and as much as I enjoyed it, there’s nothing here to make me want to play again.

 

Metro: Exodus – Movement Of Jah People Oh Oh Oh, Yeah!

So I have a confession to make – I was never a big fan of the Metro games. It’s not that I thought they were crap but more a case of they just didn’t grab me as they did with others. The previous games, Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light released in 2010 and 2013 respectively were both critically and commercially successful with favourable reviews across the board as well as strong enough sales warrant sequels all from the same developer, 4A Games.

4A Games

Well 4A Games are back with the third game in the series, Metro Exodus and after being given a review code (thanks to publisher Deep Silver) I thought I’d go back and experience the first two games once more before I tackled the latest entry… and I really enjoyed myself too. I found the games much more entertaining than I originally remembered and seeing as the first game is coming up to 9 years old this year – it holds up surprisingly well. Anyway, the point is that I was initially wrong.

I guess a quick bit of coverage of what the Metro games actually are would be good. Well, the best way to describe them is that they are first person, survival horror shooters – with a blending of resource management, stealth and action. The first game is based on the novel of the same name from writer Dmitry Glukhovsky. And you play as a guy called Artyom who has to fight and defend his home and people from the horrors lurking in the metro tunnels after a nuclear war in Russia. Artyom and others struggle to survive in the harshness of nuclear fallout as they fight the mutants created as well as have to scavenge what they can endure and withstand the horrors of nuclear fallout.

Metro Exodus Gasmask

Look, just go play the games as they’re really enjoyable but make sure you play them on the hardest difficulty to get the most of of the survival horror elements. I need to crack on with looking at the newest game Metro Exodus.

Well Artyom is back doing pretty much what he was doing in the previous games, killing mutants and scavenging whatever he can to help him and his fellow survivors stay alive. I suppose the first thing to cover is the new gameplay style. See, the first two games were pretty linear with you being stuck underground for the most part. Occasionally you would pop up the the surface but the majority of the previous games took place in the underground metro, it’s stations and tunnels. Then when you would go above ground now and then, it was still a linear experience as you had to follow a pre-set path to get to your objective. Now things have changed as while there still is some of that underground metro action (the game starts out like that), most of the game actually takes place in the open. The linearity of the previous games has all but gone, save a few sections, in favour of open world hubs. Now you have the freedom to explore and interact with these open world hubs however you wish.

Metro Exodus Openworld

While you will always have a main/story objective to complete, there are plenty of side quests you can discover and complete too. And you can do these at your own leisure as long as you are on the hub in question. You’ll find yourself going off the beaten track and seeing what else the map has to offer, not only to find more and more side missions, but also to scavenge for ammo, weapon upgrades and the like. Then each of the open world hubs are graphically very different from each other and offer their own unique characteristics. From snowy areas to deserts (watch out for sandstorms) and cities. One of the things that bored me in the first two games was the lack of variety in the graphics, I just got tired of seeing the same brown tunnels over and over. Metro Exodus addresses this by adding a lot more deviation and this made me want to see what the maps had to offer.

The upgrading of weapons is back from the previous games, only now with a lot more to play round with. These upgrades no only change how the gun looks but also how it feels and works. Add a scope and longer barrel to an assault rifle, an increased magazine size to a sub-machine gun, pimp out a sniper rifle to make it even more deadly – you can take a simple revolver and turn it into a hand-cannon. There is so much to the upgrading and customisation of the guns that I could play around and experiment with it for hours and create new and different guns each time. Speaking of the guns and coming off replaying the previous games recently, I found the gun-play here to be much more snappy and responsive too. Guns will also get dirty with excessive use making them less effective and prone to jamming, so you’ll have to find a workbench to clean it up and repair.

Metro Exodus Gun Upgrades

The open world hubs also give way to open styled missions. Do you go into the enemy camp all guns blazing, killing anyone you see… or maybe you go in sneaky, stealthy quiet as a mouse and just knock the bad guys out. How you play will affect the ending too. If you go around doing as many side missions as possible and knock people out instead of killing them, then you get the good ending. But running around like a loon and putting bullets into any and everyone you see while ignoring the side missions and you’ll see the bad ending… as I did.

Metro Exodus Enemy

Resources are scarce. Ammo, scrap and ingredients to make equipment and upgrade guns are around… but you’ll really need scour every nook and cranny to find them. Search dead bodies, find and open lockers and lock-boxes to gather much needed ammo and resources. Resources you’ll need to make more ammo, medi-kits, throwables and so on. You’ll even have to look after your gas-mask which will become damaged especially after a particularly brutal fight, as a gas-mask with a gaping hole in it is no good against nuclear fallout. Survival is key and while Metro Exodus isn’t a hardcore survival game, it’s a FPS first and foremost, the survival elements are still important and work very well especially on the hardest setting, which is how a Metro game should be played.

The graphics are stunning too making the world you are in believable. The burnt out husks of what used to be buildings, the desolate wastelands left after the nuclear war, the grotesque and unrelenting mutant animals you’ll come across all look beautiful in a macabre way.

Metro Exodus Flying Enemy.jpeg

Metro Exodus is a wonderful game and a thrilling title. For me, the best of the three as developer 4A Games have taken what made the previous games enjoyable and tinkered with the formula just enough to keep the game as it should be but also bring forth a slew of great features to keep the concept fresh.

Now full disclosure here. I played through the game on easy just to finish it so I could do this review. The Metro games (as I previously said) should be played on the hardest possible setting. This is when the survival elements really come to life as you desperately need to conserve ammo and resources, scavenging is harder as there is less loot around and enemies are harder to kill while you are easier to end. I have started a play through on the hardest setting and it’s amazing, the fear is amped as I run out of ammo for my weapons and filters for my gas-mask. On easy, Metro Exodus was thoroughly enjoyable but on Ranger (hardest) difficulty its a whole new game and one I’m loving every second of it’s brutality.