Riverbond from Cococumber is a voxel-art style dungeon crawler that doesn’t actually take place in too many dungeons. I liked this aspect of it. Most of the nine “dungeons” are set in light, fun, and colorful spaces. Without spoiling too much, the first is set at sea, on a series of docks and pirate ships, where I faced off against angry parrots with swords and bombs. The levity seen there is the same throughout the game. Its no hardcore dungeon crawling experience, but it’s still a very fun game.
The gameplay is simple and learned through an optional five minute tutorial. It’s intuitive, and easy to learn quickly. You get some weapons, then you use the weapons to kill enemies, pick up more weapons, rescue villagers, collect items for quest givers, etc. Some weapons are more effective against certain enemies, and the ability to swap between ranged combat and melee on the fly is incredibly fun. Things may start to get chaotic, but when I felt overwhelmed by a swarm of enemies, I’d switch to more appropriate weapons, and make short work of them in no time.
On the graphics side, the 2D/3D art style is very complimentary to the Switch’s capabilities. Only a few times did I have issues viewing certain perspectives. Occasionally I couldn’t make out how to navigate a certain area right away because the path was blocked behind the line of sight, and there’s no way to manipulate the fixed camera angle. Also the aiming for ranged weapons is slightly off, since the direction you’re pointing is often blocked by the environment or your character model. Aside from these minor issues, the game is really pretty. I like the use of contrasting colors, and it’s fun to see the voxels fall apart as you defeat enemies, and the very cool destructible environments. I found myself just spending time slashing at different objects to watch them shatter into hundreds of little blocks. It’s also interesting to see and how much more detailed things can get with larger models, as seen with the bosses, which are generally many times the size of your character.
Musically, the game has a nice varied soundtrack with different moods for each dungeon and level. It’s very well done and relaxing to sit and listen to while playing. The sound effects are simple and nothing special, but fit the theme and style of the game very well. There’s no voice acting, but all NPCs emit little squeaks or grunts when speaking with them, which manages to avoid being annoying. Overall, it’s a pleasant game to play with the volume turned up a bit.
The game also handles like a dream on Switch. That might sound like an exaggeration, but I have a lot of gripes with controls on the system, and this game manages to play simple enough and map the buttons in a way that avoids any cramping or frustration. So as far as the Switch is concerned, this is a well designed game from a control perspective.
The plot is light and nonsensical, and differs between dungeons. It’s pretty much absent of any substance. But you do have goals, and the little stories are told throughout completing those goals via the interactions with the various NPCs. But this is completely optional, and there’s little depth there, and not much of an overall story to be told. This game is made by it’s great gameplay, fun aesthetics, and peaceful music.
Riverbond is a great time killer, and an awesome fit on the system. Playing on the go is as fun as on the couch with the big screen. It’s also very easy to jump in and jump out of the game, and break things up into smaller play sessions. It’s one of the few multiplatform games that I feel loses nothing from being ported to the Switch, and feels perfectly at home on the system.
**DFAT was provided with a review code