Riverbond is perhaps one of the most easy-going, simplistic games you’re likely to play this year. Taking place within a beautiful voxel world, you’ll embark on a number of missions set within eight different environments ranging from idyllic sea resorts to dark, dingy caves. The gameplay is a typical hack ‘n’ slash affair with elements of twin-stick shooting thrown in for good measure, and there’s a lot here that will feel quite familiar to Zelda fans without actually going so far as to copy the legendary series (although those green gems look awfully familiar…). It’s a light, breezy experience that may well be lacking in challenge, but more than makes up for this with charming personality.
You can tackle the game on your own or with up to three additional players in co-op. Cosmetic skins are available from the start if you wish to customise your character, with plenty more unlockable as you progress through the game. You can choose to be a pug, or even an eggplant, but crucially there are no advantages or disadvantages to which skin you choose. There are also a boatload of different weapons to collect as you navigate the environments. You can hold up to five at a time, mixing up between melee weapons and long-range weapons, with bigger weapons inflicting more damage whilst being slightly more unwieldy.
Most of the game consists of meandering around the levels and taking out the myriad enemies roaming around, but there’s almost always a key objective to complete, whether it be collecting a selection of eggs, or taking down nests containing more enemies. There’s very little depth to the game, but it’s actually very suited to handheld play, allowing you to jump in and complete the odd objective here and there, with the average level taking approximately 10 minutes to complete.
Riverbond isn’t the most in-depth game on the Switch this year, nor is it the best looking. It does, however, boast an interesting art style, and its gameplay is simple yet engaging enough that almost anyone of any skill level can give it a good crack. There are plenty of unlockable skins and weapons to try out, and although there’s little incentive to replay once you’re done and dusted, it’s a decent way to spend a few hours during the quieter winter months.