Bottom line: Riverbond is a simple shoot-n-slash dungeon crawler for the entire family. It's not too challenging or very in-depth, making it best geared for younger or casual gamers.
Cute voxel art
Simple but challenging gameplay
Easy to learn controls
Variety of character skins and weapons
Fun co-op gameplay
Skins are cosmetic only
Definitely geared for a younger audience
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When it comes to games, one of my favorite genres is definitely the good ol' hack-n-slash dungeon crawler. Think Diablo III and the like — these are the games I live for. So when I saw Riverbond on the Nintendo eShop, I was intrigued. I'm not a huge fan of Minecraft itself, but I like the voxel art style that it popularized, and how can I say no to a game that promises frantic fun?
A good introduction to hack-n-slash dungeon crawlers
Riverbond for Nintendo Switch: Features
The first thing that you'll notice with Riverbond is the art style. It goes with the blocky voxel style that has been made popular with Minecraft, so this will definitely appeal to kids or fans of the style. Because of the voxel aesthetic, all of the characters you encounter in the game can be considered cute, yes, even the baddies. And there's just something about things exploding into smaller blocks when you hit them hard enough, you know?
Since Riverbond is a good introduction game into hack-n-slash dungeon crawlers, the controls are easy to pick up and not overly complex. You simply move the left joystick to move around on the map and also press A to move faster than normal. Jump with B, press Y to attack, or hold it to charge your weapon and release it to perform the weapon's Charge Attack. If you press R, you'll do a Special Attack, and you can use ranged weapons by using the right joystick to aim and pressing ZR to shoot. You can hold up to four weapons on your character at once, and you can use the left and right arrow buttons to switch between them.
Various weapons are hidden in chests and boxes on the level. To interact with them, you'll press X to open, and then X again to equip or use an item, such as a health potion.
Sometimes you will also find a new character skin in the gift boxes, which only affect your character's appearance since they have no statistical changes. When you start the game, you'll only have a handful of character skins to choose from, but as you find more, the selection widens. As far as selecting your character's skin, you can do that at the beginning of each level, but you can't change into a new one until the next mission. The skins are fun to collect, because you can be something entirely wacky, like play as a slice of bacon, or you can even be The Kid from Bastion.
Save the leaders of the Eight Worlds Each area is unique
When you play Riverbond, there are nine different areas that you can play in. Each area consists of several stages, with each of them having a single objective that you must clear before you can move on to the next. The goals range from "defeat all of the enemies," "rescue all of the hostages," or "find the key." Once you complete these missions, you'll find a boss battle at the last stage, which is pretty much the only challenging part of the game.
Each area has its own NPCs and enemies to fight against, which you should learn the patterns and behaviors for quickly. Defeating enemies nets you points, and while dying may lower your score a bit, you literally have an infinite number of lives. And when you respawn, you just pick up where you left off — enemies still have the same health levels that you left them with, including bosses.
Once you beat the boss for that particular world, your score is tallied up at the end so you can see how you did throughout. The score probably has more meaning when you play with others (up to three more can join), so you can see who contributed the most when it comes to taking down the adorable but deadly baddies in each area.
When you do play with other players, everyone can pick their own character skin, and there is a colored ring to help you differentiate each other on the overworld. Honestly, while you can play Riverbond entirely as a single-player experience, it's more fun when you have others play with you.
Good mindless fun
Riverbond for Nintendo Switch: What I Like
As a fan of dungeon crawlers, I like that Riverbond is a game that doesn't require a lot of strategy. You can simply pick the game up and start hacking away to your heart's content. After a long day, sometimes that's just what I need to relax. And while the game looks simple on the surface, some enemies and bosses actually are more challenging than I originally thought.
The voxel art style is also nice to look at. It's hard to get voxel wrong, and the game is full of bright and bold colors that would especially appeal to kids. And while I prefer more open-ended games like Diablo III where I can do whatever, the missions for each stage are pretty straightforward to complete.
Another feature that I like is the fact that you pretty much get infinite lives. I'm finding the boss battles to be more challenging than what I was expecting, so I appreciate the leeway with deaths in this game.
A bit repetitive
Riverbond for Nintendo Switch: What I Don't Like
Unfortunately, I find the gameplay of Riverbond to be a bit repetitive in the long run. You select a world, complete the objective for each level, go on to the next one, repeat, and then eventually face off against a boss. Plus, the weapons are mostly the same, and since there aren't any stats, it doesn't really matter what you use, just as long as you like the style. The skins also don't do anything but change your appearance, so there's no advantage to using one skin over another.
I also noticed that when you complete a world and do another one, your weapons reset. So any cool swords or guns you picked up previously don't carry over. That's a bit disappointing, to say the least, but I suppose it makes sense, since each world is not connected to the previous ones and you can play them in whatever order you want.
Cute and challenging hack-n-slash fun
Riverbond for Nintendo Switch: The Bottom Line
Riverbond is a pretty basic dungeon crawler compared to other options out there. However, it's not bad if you don't mind a bit of repetitiveness and just want to team up with friends for some mindless hack-n-slash action. Plus, there's just something about being a donut or slice of watermelon or bacon just slashing away or blasting lizard warriors away.
Cute hack-n-slash dungeon crawler
Loot for everyone
Riverbond has cute voxel graphics that will appeal mostly to kids, but it still has some challenging gameplay even for adults. Who can resist playing as a bacon slice shooting down bad guys?
Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.
When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.
By Tammy Rogers