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Riverbond Review: Voxel Cuteness

/ Sep 16th, 2019 No Comments

Riverbond Review

For many the idea of a higher power looking out for them is comforting and helps them get through the day. Radical belief in that can help you endure hardships, but what if you knew that higher power left you. How would you deal with that adversary knowing there isn’t some grander purpose?

The villagers in Riverbond face this plight singularly with everything going to ruin as the Eldra Spirits abandon them.

Riverbond has a lot of positives like a great voxel art style, solid hack-n-slash gameplay, and a captivating story. However, it is missing that X factor that keeps it from being great.

Why Have Thou Forsaken Us?

It is prophecized that a Hero will be born from The Great River to help free the people of the land in their darkest hour. That time has come as the Eldra Spirits have abandoned them. Now the people are being terrorized by great beasts and monsters. This turmoil has caused villagers to go missing, valuable resources to be ruined, and general disarray to rule.

The Eldra Spirits have looked over the people and kept them safe. Their original goal was to make them strong and were given magic and power to do so. However, they coddled the people and when they left they were too weak to proctect themselves. They failed and the their failure resulted in The Dark Knight imprisoning them.

Riverbond Review
It is up to you The Hero to stop the forces of evil.

It is up to you as the Hero to stop save the people, stop The Dark Knight and free the Eldra Spirits.

Riverbond has a surprisingly in-depth narrative. At first glance, all the dialogue seems like filler meant to give minor context to missions, but mostly serve as a vehicle for humor from quirky characters. To that end, the dialogue is funny adding to the charm of the game.

Riverbond Review
Riverbond is a gorgeous game, but something doesn’t quite click.

However, the story becomes much more complex as you save villages and vanquish the giant monsters holding them hostage. The Eldra Spirits that villagers keep referring to are in fact real and have been cut off from the villages they protect. It turns out the Dark Knight’s origin is much deeper than it seems.

Hack, Slash, Bludgeon, and Shoot

Awful creatures have started attacking the peaceful townsfolk ever since the Eldra Spirits have left. They are causing havoc for these simple villages by kidnapping villagers, harming crops, destroying satellite links, and generally cause a ruckus. The worst among them are giant monsters that are the ring leaders.

It is up to you, the hero, to stop them! By using a trusty sword, club, mace, axe, claws, gun, ice cream bar, sais, go signs, giant foam fists, or any other number of weapons, you need to dispatch these troublesome monsters. 

Every village needs help riding them of the big bad. Before you can face off against them though, you’ll need to address everything that has been messed up by their minions. 

Riverbond Review
After a while, hack-n-slahing in Riverbond can feel a bit dull.

Each village basically has similar needs like freeing kidnapped villagers, restoring an essential resource to its former glory. By taking on these missions and satisfying their set number of objectives you’ll open a gate to move forward. Completing all of these missions opens up the way to face off against the boss.

The missions you’ll encounter are pretty standard stuff like collecting items, activating macguffins, or wiping out a set number of enemies. Regardless of the specific mission type, you’ll spend a lot of time fighting enemies and looking for loot as you cut a path to the boss. 

While the hack-n-slash is fun, it can get tedious after playing for too long. The similarity of mission types for each of the game’s 8 villages can make things feel stale. 

Riverbond Review
The boss battles are where the game shines.

This is a shame because you have to get through these missions to fight the bosses. Boss fights in Riverbond are where the game comes alive. There is a good amount of challenge to these fights with different attack patterns, minions to deal with, and their powerful blows. It is also where you get one of the coolest visual effects in the game when you defeat a boss: they explode into a million voxels.

Even though the boss fights are more challenging, Riverbond suffers from a lack of challenge. That isn’t to say you or your friends won’t die. You’ll probably die a good amount, however, with infinite respawns it doesn’t really matter. The game also offers generous checkpoints. Much of the challenge becomes killing the same area of monsters again. 

Overall

Riverbond is an absolutely gorgeous game with a mesmerizing voxel aesthetic. It has a lot of charming aspects, and there is also no denying its hack-n-slash dungeon crawling is fun. However, it seems to be missing something that keeps all its elements from gelling together. Ultimately, the game becomes fun in spurts, but playing it for too long can feel a bit tedious.

Riverbond was reviewed on PlayStation 4 with a code provided by the developer.

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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RIVERBOND REVIEW: VOXEL CUTENESS

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall71%

GAMEPLAY6

While technically proficient with great boss battles, Riverbond can get a bit stale after playing for too long.

GRAPHICS9

Riverbond’s greatest achievement is the remarkable gorgeous voxel graphics. The world and its inhabitants ooze charm.

SOUND6.5

Riverbond’s music is a missed opportunity to add to the game’s charm.

STORY7

Riverbond’s story is full of quirky side characters and an intriguing plot.