If you enjoy gaming with pals then you may want to stick around and read my Riverbond review to see if it belongs in your collection.
Riverbond is a simple and delightful game. Basically, up to 4 local players can cooperate to take on 8 different mini-campaigns that each require anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes to complete. Every campaign is composed of a succession of quests and there’s a wide variety of objectives to accomplish. For example, you’ll find yourself having to defeat enemies, destroy all the furniture in a room, or find a key in order to progress. Along the way, you’ll come across plenty of NPCs that you can chat with who provide cute little tidbits and occasional advice. Fighting enemies is simple as all you do is swap between a variety of melee and ranged weapons then attack with twin-stick controls while rolling out of harm’s way. Aside from combat, you’ll also take part in light platforming and explore for treasures.
It may sound like a rudimentary game but its simplicity makes Riverbond easy to pick up and play. To complement the easy breezy nature of the experience, you’re treated to adorable visuals that are filled with colourful voxels which compose every character and environment. Watching the cute little chums run around and even dance during loading screens is downright adorable. Meanwhile, the audio is filled with a gentle soundtrack that suits each campaign as well as satisfying sound effects that make beating up enemies feel more rewarding. Overall, it’s a treat to watch the world of Riverbond come to life in all of its graphical and aural delights.
As you play through each of the 8 campaigns, you’ll gradually unlock additional playable character skins and some of them are from other indie games such as Bastion and Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime. These additional characters don’t change up the gameplay but they look adorable so unlocking them makes for a fun reward. You’ll also come across loads of different weapons such as a giant glove that you can slap enemies with and a spear with a squid on it. Experimenting to see what each weapon is capable of is a ton of fun but unfortunately, you don’t permanently unlock them as they disappear as soon as you complete a campaign. Nevertheless, the amount of variety within the characters and weapons makes the gameplay feel fresh even after completing a few campaigns.
On the downside, Riverbond is certainly lacking when it comes to challenge. For starters, there are no repercussions for dying as you’re merely sent back to the previous checkpoint with enemies remaining defeated and such. You acquire points as you play as well that you can achieve high scores with but there are no leaderboards so these scores mostly feel tacked on and meaningless. With the almost complete lack of substantial difficulty and fruitless high scores, you would hope that there are some rewarding replay incentives yet aside from earning trophies or achievements and unlocking all of the characters, there’s really nothing to do. As a result, you’ll likely play through each campaign then never boot up Riverbond again. I wish there were collectibles or challenges to master.
Riverbond is definitely an appealing game, especially if you want an easy breezy co-op experience to wind down with. However, the lack of both challenge and replay incentives means that you likely won’t get more than a few hours of passive enjoyment out of it.
- + Simple and enjoyable co-op twin-stick gameplay with a variety of quests
- + Lovely visuals and satisfying audio
- + Lots of cool characters and weapons
- – Almost completely lacks a sense of challenge
- – Meaningless scores (no leaderboards)
- – Very limited replay value
6.6 out of 10