Lasting First Impressions
Approximately two weeks prior to Bound by Flames releasing to market, I had never heard of the title, nor its developer, Spiders. When I did learn of the existence of this epic action RPG, I knew I had to give it a try. Bound by Flames is a big game with big ambitions and borrows heavily from other games in the genre. Thrust into a world at war against seven Ice Lords, players are soon possessed by a demon of fire, thanks to a ritual gone wrong. During the course of the game, players will make decisions that can change the course of the story, the quests that will be given and, even how you look. Will you give in to the demon possessing you to gain more power or hold on to your humanity? What you choose will directly impact your companions and your world.
Bound by Flame feels like an amalgamation of many different RPG games. Maps are presented in very linear paths, like those of Fable. Dialogue trees and relationship building are available, like we find in Mass Effect or Dragon Age. Combat is fast and very physical like that of The Witcher series of games, only not as detailed. It is an ambitious proposition to make a game like this, but it turns into more of a Jack of All Trades, Master of None scenario. While all of these elements present themselves here, none of them are done to perfection. The story is cliche, the dialogue is simple and overly crude, and it is not acted very well. It is apparent that the voice actors were not in the same room together then the lines were recorded because all the vocals seem stiff, with the wrong emphasis on certain words as if there was no context for what they were reading. In a fantasy world like the one here, there is an awful lot of modern day cursing that just clashes with the world and seems so out of place. For a game that is supposed to allow the player to decide their own fate, the protagonist is very angry all the time with no evident reason for it.
If you can get past the sub-par dialogue, however, and just enjoy the game itself, there is a lot of fun to be had in Bound by Flame. The combat is simple, but feels good. Players can choose to train in any of three classes: Warrior, Ranger, or Pyromancer. The Warrior wields heavy two handed weapons and, while slow, delivers heavy damage. The Ranger wields dual blades and moves quickly delivery smaller damage but much faster and can move stealthily in the shadows. The Pyromancer tree is more of a complimentary power that enhances either the Warrior or Ranger stances by imbuing weapons with fire damage, encircling the user with fire shields, or casting fireballs at enemies between sword strikes. The combat controls well and is definitely fast. Bound by Flame throws the player directly into the action right as the game starts and it take some time to understand all the different moves, but as the story progressed, I found myself really getting into the groove of combat, especially as a Ranger. And the combat is not easy either with bosses being very large and very scary.
Bound by Flame also gives players plenty of side quests and activities to complete to gain items, money, and XP. There is even crafting available allowing players to, not only make items like health potions, mana potions, and traps, but the components for crafting as well. What’s nice about this crafting is that players can do it from anywhere; it’s all done in the menu itself. Run out of health potions while working on a quest? No problem, just open the menu and make one (as long as you have the necessary components).
Bound by Flame is not a perfect game by any means. It definitely has its flaws and I think that really comes from the developers at Spiders trying to make a game that is bigger than it could be. Trying to combine too many different aspect of popular franchises into one. The game looks good and plays well, but most of the story, characters, and dialogue are cliche. You may have already read some reviews on this game that give it very low scores and are coming down hard on it. To be completely honest, I understand some of their points, but Bound by Flame is, nonetheless, a fun game to play. What RPG loving gamer doesn’t like just bounding through a swamp killing anything they can see and collecting loads of loot along the way? If you can get past these non game breaking issues, there is most definitely a fun and engaging game to play here.
I have put well over our standard one hour into this game (I’m at 10 hours now) and I have yet to come across something I seriously hated about this game. I am having fun and isn’t that the point of a game? If the game was as bad as so many people are saying it is, why do I feel compelled to keep playing it every day?
Spiders, I gave you an hour (an many more) and I am IMPRESSED.