Monday 12 May 2014

Bound By Flame

In the gaming industry today, it's hard to find a relatively small developer that’s tackling the next-gen consoles and hasn't been manhandled by a large publisher. One of those developers is Spiders, a company originating from France who have created past titles such as Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper, Of Orcs and Men and the awesome Mars: War Logs. Made up of less than 50 employees, Spiders is one of those developers I love to root for. However, while some of their past games vary from great to awful, I was quite looking forward to Bound by Flame. Watching the previews videos it came across like a mash-up of The Witcher, Fable and a number of classic PC era RPG titles of yesteryear. I was intrigued, but because some of Spiders previous games were a little disappointing, I cautiously embarked on my journey into the world of Bound by Flame. Did it live up to expectations? Read on...

The story in Bound by Flame is simple, and is set within a bleak and desolate world in which an undead army has wiped out most of the population. You play as mercenary with the codename Vulcan, and are tasked with protecting a group of Mages as they try and save the world from the Ice Lords. They're the bad dudes of the game, and have turned the world into a not so friendly winter wonderland. However, after a summoning ritual goes awry, Vulcan is possessed by a flame demon. Now, with the world being held captive by the Ice Lords and the hero now magically able to utilize fire at will, he's the last line of defence between the Ice Lords and global annihilation. It's a very, almost painfully straightforward story, and one that comes across as generic and tired. In fact, it's attempts to be edgy at every turn work against it, which usually come in the form of bad language. It's like Spiders watched a few episodes of Game of Thrones, said “let's do that!”, but forgot to also add in what truly makes Game of Thrones good; complexity, interesting characters and, you know, a good story! Bound by Flame has none of that, and in terms of characters and narrative, comes across like it was written by an “edgy “15 year old.

Bound by Flame is a third person action role-playing game, and at its outset it lets the player create their character. There's a good deal of customization here, but what's more interesting is that Bound by Flame also contains a good/bad alignment aspect to it, much like Mass Effect and Fable. Through your good or bad deeds you'll physically change, and at times the game can end up being considerably varied. These options, that come through the various dialogue trees, in Bound by Flame are its most alluring aspect. Though it's not exactly Deus Ex, Bound by Flame makes a good attempt at giving the player choice.

However, the heart of Bound by Flame is in its combat, which is sadly also its worst element. Though at first the combat feels thrilling, and its array of weapon stances and in-depth skill tree options seems promising, it all goes downhill very quickly. The action is muddled, confusing and is hampered by a high number of fighting areas that are cramped and tiny. This grinds action to a standstill, which is only further harmed by how awful the player’s team members are in battle. During my time playing Bound by Flame my team members either perished within 5-10 seconds, or just got in the way completely. Needless to say, the A.I is just dreadful so combat is often infuriating to slog through. Bound by Flame's woes also extend to its horrific camera, unreliable enemy lock-on mechanic and the fact that team members can't be revived during battles. Ugh.

I had high hopes for Bound by Flame, but while it does contain an interesting alignment mechanic, at its foundation it's a mess of a game. From its generic characters and story, to its truly terrible combat, Bound by Flame is a failure on so many levels. 

Bound by Flame doesn't light up the competition and gets a 2/5.


Denis Murphy

Bound By Flame at CeX

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