+Insanely fun and addicting same-screen brawling antics
+Creative use of indie characters from other franchises such as VVVVVV and Guacamelee
+Level designs are insanely well designed and picture book-esque
+Character designs are unique and creative
–Hard to sometimes follow a character
–PC version made it semi hard to follow unless using a large monitor to play on
It’s hard not to say that I haven’t enjoyed my fair-share of same-screen brawlers before. I grew up with the likes of Super Smash Bros. and eventually joined in on the indie scene with Guacamelee, VVVVVV, and even TowerFall: Ascension just to name a few, but that does not change the fact that I’ve had my fair share of entertainment when it comes to games that have yet to release, have released, or are in early access, but one thing’s for certain: this game is ludicrous.
This time around we enter the scene with Paperbound, a game that ones you to play characters that have been imagined for a paper book-esque title and allows those characters to come to life on screen in this smash-up brawler. So what’s the point of this game? Get a few friends or family members together, plop on the couch, and go to town on each other to see who really has the best combat skills on a 4-person player screen – if they aren’t there, bots do just fine, and provide just as much if not more than enough of a challenge to make a few gamers yank their hair out and scream in agony.
Unlike other games where each character has a different set of skills, Paperbound does away with that and delivers a unique twist on appearances alone, which means every character comes into combat with the exact same skills as the others. This means a pair of scissors that can be thrown in a select direction to nail an enemy or even an inkwell to ‘blow’ your enemies off the pages with. This means that skill is something that will be needing to show when players are bouncing around in multiple directions in order to go against gravity while taking each other out in one on one. That alone leaves this game hard to master since players will be traversing each map as they manipulate the maps gravity in order to find themselves jumping between terrains, orbiting each piece of terrain in order to go into combat mid-air with epic sword fights. Think that’s all? The jokes on you: combat can be halted while in mid-air if players are quick enough to tap the proper buttons so that they can hover in mid air while sword fighting. This mechanic is simply what makes the game itself fun, challenging, and even gives players a new set of versatile skills as they traverse through each combat zone.
So where does the weakness in this game show? Unfortunately it is in the lack of modes, but also online multiplayer that may suit some people a bit more depending on how close their gaming friends or family are, which can become a bit troublesome, but that’s not to say the game itself isn’t fun, challenging, and presenting players with a bit of hardship to undergo as they pick up a new set of skills that may shine forth. For those wanting a set of games there is a few versus modes such as Versus, Survival, and King. Each of these modes require players to meet a certain amount of frags on each of these maps, which can be selected by going to a book, flipping through it till they find the arena they want, and go to town against each other, which in turn is a plethora of levels to choose from so that players aren’t map starved.
When not fragging each other constantly on the maps in versus modes, Paperbound offers a few team-based objective modes that will teams of two versus two against each other in order to get a certain amount of objectives completed such as Capture the Quill, Versus, Survival, and King. In these modes it is King that truly shows what mode is a blast since it can easily be said which will challenge players to survive an onslaught of enemies that are seeking to burn them out and push them down the drain once done so that they may obtain the highest score. This mode is where we found ourselves having the most fun when the four of us were sitting in front of the 15.1 inch ASUS RoG grinning from ear to ear like a bunch of man-children while mangling each other only to find we found the PS4 version a bit more entertaining due to the accessibility of a large T.V. in front of us.
With even that being said, the games can last roughly 4-5 minutes depending on how skilled and how quick your friends are to burn out and leave you a bit flustered since all maps within the game can be cleared within 30 minutes to an afternoon depending on the approach players use to keep themselves entertained. Since the game is a 2D picture book type brawler, it’s not hard to see why this game is chaotic, fun, and even challenging, which left my friends, family members, and myself laughing for hours at a time while bringing absolutely chaos to the PlayStation 4 and the PC.
It’s because of those small reasons that games such as Paperbound will be there in the years to come, and will simply allow for players to reminisce about how creative games such as this small indie title that defines what it is to sit on the couch, have fun, and not be locked into the battles games like Super Smash Bros’ provides. That simply put – this game is charming, chaotic, fun, and offers a wide array of characters to select from, but also maps that could quickly be gone through in no time flat, but will leave players coming back for more as time goes on. We just hope to see some more content in the future that will add new maps, game modes, and even possible online multiplayer so we can share the mayhem with our friends and family from afar.
Paperbound is now out on both PlayStation 4 and Steam for 9.99 USD in North America and promises hours of fun.
Final Score: 8 out of 10
Ethics Note: This version of the game is based upon a pre-release retail version of the game. Our copy was provided to us by the games publisher. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, MMO’s, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable and can’t be softened by even the biggest names in the gaming industry. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. To follow Dustin, hit him up on Twitter over at @GamingAnomaly, find him on his Google+. Wanna game with him? You can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.