Playing the Early Access version of Windborne made two things very clear to me. The first is that Minecraft-like games are not going anywhere. The second? Putting a shiny coat of paint on the formula doesn’t do much to change things. Windborne is a sandbox game where the world is yours to create and destroy as you see fit. It has a nice look with its cartoon-like aesthetic, but as of now that isn’t enough to make Windborne worthy of huge praise.
Windborne begins with something every sandbox game should require: a tutorial. The game is very good at getting players acquainted with its mechanics and the world around them. Sandbox games, especially those similar to Minecraft, don’t play too differently from each other but I still found it helpful to have a refresher course in case anything was sweepingly different in terms of mechanics or ideas. Windborne, however, stays pretty close to the normal formula of "break squares and place them elsewhere" to build something. I’ve never been much of a builder when it comes to these games but it was easy to see the potential within the game. That being said, even the most intense and talented builders won’t find much to utilize in Windborne's early stages. Right now the main attraction seems to be playing around in the environment and building things out of earth, dirt, and stone.
What Windborne has going for it right now is a beautiful environment. Hidden Path Entertainment has made a world that looks like a true step up from most sandbox games. The world is colorful and smooth and besides the few graphical glitches I ran into it runs smooth and plays well on most machines. Again, this is an Early Access game so to judge any sort of glitches or lacking issues is unfair to the developers.
My biggest issue with Windborne in its current stage is that it costs $20. There are so many indie games that cost less in the Early Access pool. Sandbox games are a dime a dozen, and recommending one over the wealth of other games available to preview at this time is a difficult thing to do. If you truly love the sandbox genre and need to play every game that fits into that niche then try Windborne out. It’s a pretty face in a typically simple-looking genre. However, if you’re on the fence about sandbox games I don’t think this early version of Windborne will do much to sell you.