Game review by
Carolyn Koh, Common Sense Media
Windward Game Poster Image
Sandbox pirate game provides creative but repetitive play.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn to strategize, exercise their creativity, and learn something about sailing physics as they play this sandbox action role-playing game. They learn decision-making as they select skills to support their play style. They also learn how to multitask in the multiplayer game by keeping an eye on the map to know where their friends are. Simple controls, amusing phrases, and continual help by allies also helps keep players engaged. Windward gives players a taste of swashbuckling and sailing fun.

Positive Messages

Kids defeat pirates, help friendly nations, earn favor with less friendly ones.

Positive Role Models & Representations

You pilot ships in this adventure game. There are no characters or role models.

Ease of Play

Simple controls, easy to learn.


Ships blown up with accompanying cannon sounds, explosions. Top-down perspective limits violence.


Typical piratical phrases such as "Curses!" and "Arrr!" are as offensive as it gets.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Windward is a downloadable open-world adventure where players chase and attack pirates. Though combat and sea battles are a key element of gameplay, with cannon fire and explosions, the top-down view limits the impact of the violence. There's no offensive content, and "Arr" is the worst language you'll here. Players can go online and engage in multiplayer co-op games, but there's no in-game chat between players.

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What's it about?

WINDWARD is an adventure game in which players captain a ship and sail off into the noon-day sun for adventures. Gamers start by choosing a faction to align themselves with, each with its own specialty. It's also a sandbox game, so there isn't an ultimate goal -- gamers can play however they want. They can hunt pirates all day, sail around exploring the world, trade, or find quests in various towns. Enemies are plentiful, but so are helpful allies and guard towers. Death or shipwreck is not painful, as the only penalty is that you lose your current quests -- which are carried aboard ship like cargo and passengers.

Is it any good?

Windward is set in a world that grows with you. The game is easy to learn, and there's nothing overly complex, so players will quickly get into it without much of a learning curve. Even better is that as your ship improves and your talents grow, so do the pirates and the allies you encounter. This can lead to entertaining in-game encounters, such as allies exclaiming, "Hey lads, there's (your ship's name)," when they sail near your vessel. But the overall essence of the game is a simple sailing sandbox game without an overarching story line or "save the village"-type goals. In effect, Windward is very much like a light version of Sid Meier's Pirates, in that it lets players determine what they want to do when they want to do it.

That means players can choose to sail the seas, charting the islands they come across, perform trade between different ports, or go hunting for pirates. The way you play will help direct the upgrades you'll want to make to your ship, as well as the kinds of skills your captain acquires. What's nice about the open nature of the game is that if you make a bad decision, you can quickly and randomly generate a new game world or edit it to your liking. That's actually necessary, because while the open-world nature of the game is one of Windward's strengths, it actually winds up being it's greatest weakness. Since there's no story, players will find themselves constantly sailing from one place to another, which quickly becomes repetitive and boring. Sailing and boat fans may find Windward amusing for a while, but unless you're willing to make up stories on your own about your captain and crew, you may play it for a while and then look for a more directed story experience.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in games. Does it make a difference when you're shooting cannonballs at a ship instead of a human character? Is violence ever justified?

  • Talk about pirates. How does the history and reality of pirates compare with their romanticized ideals seen in movies and games?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love adventure

Themes & Topics

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