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Riverbond (Switch) Review

January 16, 2020 | Posted by Genna Boyer
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Riverbond (Switch) Review  

After a long day of dealing with the seriousness of life, it’s nice to sit back and dematerialize the world. To answer those destructive desires, Riverbond supplies a silly adventure filled with stuff to hack n’ slash. You embody a hero prophesied to rescue the Endra spirits, godlike beings who protect the citizens of the environments you’ll explore.

Riverbond embraces a cutesy, pixelated art style that excels at producing stress-relieving environments. All nine maps have their own unique aesthetic and boss battles. Gameplay pays homage to Bastion and Enter the Gungeon, both honored with unlockable skins. There are many other skins to unlock, ranging from original characters to a strip of bacon. Once I unlocked The Kid from Bastion though, I never chose anything else.

Every map has multiple levels, one objective per level. Exploration reveals chests that grant new skins or weapons. Melee weapons tend to vary by swing-speed, usually slow, average, or fast. There’s not much gun variety, but it’s fun to say I’ve shot baddies with rainbows.

There are a few facts about this humble adventure that many might interpret as faults. Firstly, difficulty is nonexistent. In Riverbond, points are accumulated by collecting valuables in the world, such as coins and gems, and also by killing the map’s boss as quickly as possible. I haven’t found a way to lose points. Death is a minor inconvenience with no point loss, so the adventure is largely a time trial with no deterrents.

Secondly, guns aim poorly and hit boxes are incredibly small, even for bigger enemies. I mostly used melee weapons during my time in Riverbond. Lastly, after reading all the dialogue and killing all the things, I played for about 6 hours total. Considering the replayability of this game depends on speed-running, there’s not much more to experience a second time through.

Taking all these potential negatives into account, Riverbond’s charm is its simplicity. Sprawling RPGs with interesting stories are my preference, but I admit that it was satisfying to play Riverbond and not think too hard about anything. I loved hacking n’ slashing the environments and watching everything crumble into pixelated blobs. The lack of a challenge makes it soothing, while the levels still bring something to accomplish.

Riverbond may not be the sprawling adventure many might prefer, but there is value in its simplistic charm. I liken the maps as bite-sized respites during times I don’t feel like playing an attention-intensive game. Riverbond would also make a good option for kids to play. It’s capable of being a co-op experience, so it could even be an adventure among friends and family alike.

The final score: review Average
The 411
Positives: Stress-relieving pixelated destruction, cute aesthetic and dialogue, rainbow gun awesomeness, also great for kids to play. Negatives: Zero difficulty, guns aim poorly, tiny enemy hit-boxes, barely any replayability factors.

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Riverbond, Genna Boyer