+ Nearly endless way to mod/customize your weapons & Armor.
+ Combat is very fluid, and rewarding once mastered.
+ Environments are beautifully detailed.
+ Branching story options, and good replayability
– Companion AI is absolutely useless.
– Voice acting, for the most part, is terrible at best.
– Steep learning curve, especially on the higher difficulties.
Final Score: 8 out of 10
As we now reach the six month marker of our next generation consoles being on the market, we still have a lack of games. For the most part that is. Ever since launch, I’ve been looking for a next-gen game for me to sink some actual time into. Granted we’ve had a few amazing ones so far. AC:4, Tomb Raider HD, *cough* the Lego games *cough*. However majority of titles released had been your run of the mill shooters that, in all honesty, we have grown bored with at this point.
So learning of the release of a RPG onto next-gen truly peaked my interest. Granted, I knew going in this wasn’t going to be a tipple-A title like Dragon Age, or the FF series. Something different was what I have been begging for, and it looks like my wish may just come true.
Spiders Studios have a few titles under their belt, most noteworthy in my opinion is their sci-fi title “Mars” released digitally on last gen consoles. So how does their new entry fair? Are you going to burn right through it, or is it just blowing a bunch of smoke?
The game revolves around a band of mercenaries for hire called The Freeborn Blades, and their latest contract it to escort The Order of the Red Scholars to an ancient temple where they are set to preform a sacred right in hopes of awakening an unknown power to help combat The Ice Lords. These evil doers are Necromancers who have risen a undead army to do their biding, and are slowly but surly taking over all the lands, and ushering in a snowy apocalypse.
You take control of Vulcan, the newest member of the Freeborn Blades that has a sharp tongue, and even sharper blades. While the Red Scribes are attempting to summon this great power, The Ice Lords undead army shows up and breaks through you ranks, and in to the interior of the temple. It is there that humanities last chance at survival is born.
While attempting to save one of the Scribes lives, the rite is completed, and a powerful demonic spirit is summoned. It quickly latches itself onto the most powerful creature in the room, which just so happens to be you. Standing in your way is not only the legions of undead, but also your own inner demons.
Will you use this new found power of yours to strike fear into the hearts of the masses, and rule with an iron fist? Or will you learn to master your own demons, and channel this power to save the lands? The choice is yours alone, and with a branching story it is fully welcomed, and encouraged to playthrough the way you’d want to.
Don’t fret however, even though you are the last hope of this dying world. You are joined by other fearless warriors in hopes of saving the world from this evil, each however has their own private agenda. Some would see you become the most noble knight in the land, other would like to see the demon take full hold of your body.
These allies of yours spans all job classes from Mage, Warrior, to Archer. So to be truly successful you will be needing to select the correct companion for the encounters ahead. Now one thing about these companions, is no matter which one you select they will just stand there during battle being completely useless for the most part.
For most of the game, my AI teammates were either unconscious, and playing dead on the ground somewhere. Or they had gotten lost along the way, and left me to due battle by myself. Every now and then they do prove to have their uses. Sybal will heal you even while beating beaten to death, and Edwen will occasionally be able to interrupt an enemies combo.
For the most part you will have to be relying on your own skills to pull you through these sometimes unbalanced battles. I have to admit that the battle system in this game is some of the most fun I’ve had in a third person RPG in quite sometime. It’s fast, fluid, and unrelenting combat makes it quite the “Edge of your seat” experience that makes sure I’ll be revisiting this title down the road.
Another thing that adds additional depth to the combat of this game is the immense customization of not only your weapons, but also your armor. Changing the hilt, or blade of your weapon not only changes the overall appearance of your death machine, but also the damage value, poison effects, or overall speed of your weapon. I spent far to long building the perfect set of weapons, and armor. In the end it defiantly changed the course of battle, and made me feel stronger with each upgrade I made
Besides that, your weapons also governs your primary class. which means that if you are using a brute of a two handed weapon, you will be using your Warrior class. If you decide to change weapons, which can be done in battle by pressing a button, you will switch to your daggers which is quite the bit more nimble all the while switching into your Rouge class and perks. The final class can be accessed by ether of the classes, and that would be the demonic fire power of a Pyromancer.
Probably the biggest bone I have to pick with this game is it’s god awful voice acting. I felt like I was playing back through one of the earlier Resident Evil titles. Almost every character sounds as if they are speaking in monotone, all while reading off of a cue card. The lack of motivation these supposedly actors had while delivering their lines is mind numbing.
The one voice in the game that seems the actress actually tried with is Edwen. Seeing that her characters personality is a smart-mouthed sorceress, combining that with a British actress that reminds one of Christie from DOA, and you have an awesome character.
Gratefully, to distract you from the less than good voice acting that this game has. The environments are defiantly a treat for the eyes, and looks like they belong on a next-gen platform. Your journeys will take you from deserts, to swamps, into icy barren wastelands. All of which are extremely pleasing to the eyes do to the gorges detail they put into it.
One thing that sadly did not meet up to par, is the character models. Overall the faces are mid-grade PS3/360 grade visuals, and the you can almost see the polygons on some of the characters body models. Now granted this is for the most part avoided by the well detailed armor that you equip onto your character, but when it comes to Edwen showing a little skin, you almost want to ask the poor girl to cover up.
Musically, this game has a very interesting original soundtrack that fits it quite nicely, in the sense of a classical sound. One track that sticks out in memory, is the really cool track they use in they last boss battle. Instead of going the normal route of having an epic score kick in right off the bat, they wait until the boss unveils it’s true form, and then proceeds with a silent vocal piece that truly set the desperation of the situation.
While Bound by Flame has a lot of cool, and unique ideas inside of it’s packaging. It is brought down by a number of issues that bring a dim light, to a other wise gym. I think that with a little bit more tweaking, this game could have been something truly memorable.
With its unique “Feat” tree, it challenges the user to overcome in game goals to unlock special perks for their character, or the lengthy crafting system that allows one to dive deep to create the ultimate warrior. This game offers a true RPG experience, mixed with a level of difficulty that will punish your every mistake.
If you can overlook it’s flaws, you will find a fun experience that worthy of a run through, and with the possibility of some of these issues being patched down the road. We could be looking at a game that is worth revisiting a few times.
Bound by Flame is Developed by Spiders and is out on all platforms.