Genre: Adventure, Action, Arcade, Party
System: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: EU 7| US 10+
Price: $24.99 US | £17.99 | €
Release Date: 10th December 2019
Review code courtesy of Stride PR.
The Adorable Voxel World of Riverbond
The Eldra Spirits have disappeared. Everyone is counting on you to defeat The Knight and restore the spirits of Riverbond. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get to it!
Upon launching the game of Riverbond, you are greeted with a menu where you can either jump right into the game, run through a tutorial, visit The King’s Garden, or adjust the in-game settings. I chose to go through the tutorial first.
Tutorial – Welcome to Riverbond
Entering the tutorial, I got my first taste of the beautiful world of Riverbond and its vibrant colors and soothing music. I was greeted by Tutorial Bunny, an adorable NPC bunny who guided me through the remainder of the lesson.The controls were pretty straight forward and should feel familiar to most gamers into action-adventure games. Those new to the genre should be able to pick it up pretty quickly as the controls are not overly complicated.
Surprisingly, I found that most objects in the tutorial (and later in the main game) can be destroyed, which I totally love! I spent a good portion of my time in the tutorial destroying everything in my path. What a great bonus stress reliever! 🙂 You may find it better to leave some objects intact as somethings can be picked up and lobbed at enemies.
The tutorial level lets you try out a small array of weapons. As in most of my gamin adventures, I had way more luck with the melee weapons. The blaster is fun though and I did get better with it over time. Gamers with more coordination than me should have no problem with it at all. 😀
The tutorial also introduces the health mechanic. The player has a certain amount of hit points, which are displayed in a red bar above their head. Enemies have a similar bar so you can see if you’ve almost got them beat or if you need to retreat to find a health potion! Health potions will drop randomly when destroying the objects in the world around you or occasionally after defeating an enemy. There is no character/weapon leveling system, however, you do receive points that go toward your final score for defeating enemies, talking to NPCs, and based on the time it takes to complete the area.
This is where you are also introduced to skins! I started off as a ninja bunny, but as cute as that was, I chose to start my first tutorial mission as a pink sprinkle donut. In the mission, I was introduced to Special Attacks. As a donut, my special attack involved squashing a large area of enemies all at once by performing a belly flop of sorts. I found out later, that the special attack is the same no matter what skin you have applied. The tutorial mission also introduced Rally Points, or checkpoints, where you can set your respawn point in the case of your untimely death. This came in handy in the later quests of the main game.
The tutorial ended when I defeated all of the enemies, including a final boss. As Tutorial Bunny says, “You now have all the skills you need to move forward.” Plus, I received another adorable skin!
The King’s Garden
The King’s Garden is an area you can access directly from the main menu. Inside, you’ll find all of the game’s skins walking around as NPCs, those you’ve unlocked and those you have yet to earn. To switch your skin, just walk up to one you’ve unlocked and equip it! This can also be done before entering a stage in the main game, but I prefer the King’s Garden so that I can see what a skin will look like before having to commit to it. Be sure to stop back frequently as there are chests full of goodies scattered throughout the garden that refill with each visit!
The Main Game
After leaving the tutorial, there are 9 areas available to choose from to hone your skills and save Riverbond. Laid out in a grid pattern, it was unclear to me if it mattered which area I tackled first. I went with Stonefrost Peak to start because of the cute, yet angry-looking, penguin boss in the preview. This area was covered in snow and full of adorable, yet dangerous, woodland creatures. My first quest was to rescue some wolf pups. “I’m on my way, doggos!“
There are no cut-scenes to explain the plot of the game. However, NPCs will be scattered throughout each quest area and their conversations will be your only way to keep up with the unfolding storyline. Its completely possible to get through each mission without ever talking to one, but you do get points for reading what they have to say, so those going for high scores won’t want to miss them. After finishing my first quest, it was immediately onto the next. Each area will have a series of quests to complete before getting to the area boss.
Facing the area boss wasn’t as daunting as I’d expected. The weapons I’d come across throughout my quests made the battle more fun than frustrating, as boss battles can be. There is a time bonus for defeating the boss before the bonus timer counts down to zero, but I had a good experience just attacking him on my own time. I could always go back and try for the high score on a subsequent run. After beating Stonefrost Peak’s boss, Pumpiron Pengo, I was awarded a new skin and a high score. I was then brought back to the main mission menu to continue my adventure in a new area.
Which Way Should I Go?
This time, I chose to enter the first area, Restwater Valley. This area had less quests than the Stonefrost Peak area I had just finished. My weapons didn’t come with me from the last area and the ones I had didn’t do as much damage. That wasn’t an issue though as the Restwater Valley enemies were far less difficult to defeat. This lead me to believe that there must be a specific order you should enter areas, even though the menu isn’t obviously linear. To test this theory, I entered the area listed last.
As expected, the weapons I acquired in this area, Crystalwatch, do far more damage than in Restwater Valley and there are far more quests to complete. I completed all of the quests and took on the final boss. The NPC dialogue suggested that I was now at the end of my adventure and my duty is somewhat complete, but there is no other distinction that this is the end of the game. There is no further dialogue, cut-scene, or credit roll.
This minor detail was not a hindrance for me at all. In fact, I enjoyed skipping around to different areas and replaying completed ones to beat my previous high score. If you’d like to follow the story, I suggest completing stages from left to right, top to bottom. If you’re here just for the game play, you will be happy, whichever order you decide to play in.
- Ranged weapons do not require ammo, just have a cool-down.
- Currency, which adds to your overall high score, is picked up automatically as you approach it.
- There are tons of hidden nooks and crannies to explore!
- Health potions are not picked up automatically like currency is. You must click “X” on it, which can be frustrating in heated battle.
Overall, I really enjoyed Riverbond. It was just challenging enough to keep me on my toes, without becoming frustrating. I thoroughly enjoyed the art style, mechanics, and beautiful background music. I highly recommend it!
Final Verdict: I like it a lot!