Riftbound is a 3D Plants vs. Zombies style lane defense strategy game. It is developed and published by Barrel Smash Studios. For anyone looking to fill the gap left by PvZ, Riftbound goes above and beyond in many aspects. However, it doesn’t come without its flaws.
Riftbound is simple, there are 5 lanes you need to defend from enemy waves. You have various elementals and spells to assist you in your fight against darkness. All your spells and elemental’s have different status effects applied to the enemy. There are also combo spells you can use if your lane fulfills the spell requirements. And believe me when I tell you that combo spells are very strong. Therefore, you will want to play accordingly and choose your arsenal before the game to maximize your power.
Enemy types are varied and require different responses to their attacks. This adds another aspect of strategizing before the level begins. The game lets you know the different enemy types faced during the level beforehand and gives you a chance to plan. I liked the enemy variability and the strategic requirement of fighting each enemy type differently.
There are several scenarios you will come across as you play through the levels. Each of these adds a bit of a twist to the level and keeps things fresh. The most enjoyable of those scenarios for me was the boss fights. There are a couple of boss fights sprinkled between the levels. These fights require you to understand the boss and how it reacts to different elementals and spells. There were many nail-biting moments when I fought the bosses, which only amplified the fun. All the bosses I fought were different from one another. This game wouldn’t have impressed me as much without its boss fights.
There is an “evolve” system. With this, your elementals can evolve into stronger and sometimes different elementals. Acquiring new stats and abilities. I really enjoyed this part of the gameplay. Deciding what I wanted my elementals to evolve depending on the level at hand was fun.
The game follows a straightforward level progress system. Once you finish a level, the next one becomes available to play. Occasionally, challenge levels become accessible. Upon completion, they reward you with new spells and elementals. Even though they didn’t include any big bosses, the challenge levels were still a tough task.
There is also a upgrade tree available. Before each level starts, you get to select the upgrades you want from the possibilities as well as the elementals and spells. After each level the upgrade tree resets, and you need to select again for the next level. I was a fan of this design simply because it allowed me to experiment much more than I normally would.
Story and Technical Side
This is the part where I am not going to be as nice towards Riftbound. The graphics are fine, they don’t look out of place or especially beautiful so take that as you may. The sound design is pretty much in the same boat as graphics. To be fair most of the technical aspects of Riftbound, from graphics to animations to sound, is just okay. It is just mediocre. And sometimes it dips even further down into below mediocre.
This pattern continues with its dialogue and story as well. Both of those aspects are formulaic. Such as; nature is good, and darkness is bad. I’m not saying that those themes can’t be molded into something great. I’m saying that they weren’t. The game’s story and dialogue never go past cliché and become something good. However, since I doubt anyone will play Riftbound for its story or dialogue, I won’t spend more time talking about it.
There are a few positives I can say about the technical side, once of them is the enemy and elemental models. They look quite good and detailed. And the next one is full controller support. I am always happy to see full controller support in any game and thankfully Riftbound has it. Kudos to the developers for implementing it.
Riftbound tries some new things within the lane defense genre and succeeds with most of them. As someone who isn’t a big fan of lane defense games, I enjoyed myself for the most of it. If you can look past the mediocre graphics and sound as well as stereotypical story, I can easily recommend this game to anyone who likes strategic lane defense games.