Bound By Flame Review
NOTE: Due to Gamotere's updated review policy scores are no longer being used. Scores for this review were removed 08/03/2015.
The LookWhen I first heard about Bound By Flame I was extremely excited. I saw some of the artwork, and I was even more excited. I pre-ordered the game. Then waited. Then it came and I was super excited to start it! Then I did. I looked at it. And it didn't look too good. Now, let me just clarify I (by no means) have a good computer for gaming. It's nearly two years old and I will be replacing it later this year (don't tell it - it might get upset!) but I've seen other people play it, and it still looks bad. Not even, "oh it's a few years old" looking bad. It just isn't good to look at. But I don't know why. It looks to me as though if they'd spent another month polishing stuff before the release, they could have nailed the look of the game. It has potential. Just like (so I've read) the other games from Spiders Studio's.
There's no excuse for this really either, it's not like it's an old game - it came out this year on May the 9th. I really don't know what else to say, it just isn't pretty. It could be gorgeous! Absolutely gorgeous! But obviously they felt that it couldn't be delayed for polishing.
You may be wondering what looks bad. Personally I see the pictures as a little grainy around the edges. It's like when YouTube automatically sets the video quality to 240 instead of 480, 720 or 1080 (which is really annoying!)
It's not that the characters are badly designed either, they look really awesome. What each person is wearing is super detailed, and a lot of thought has obviously gone into how they look. It's a shame that the overall quality is lacking a little.
I think that might be a theme in this review, the ideas are great, but it wasn't excecuted well resulting in a poor finish. Perhaps this is why reviews from the major gaming sites have been giving fairly low scores, and on Metacritic it only has a score of 56. I think that's too low, but you'll have to wait for my score!
The GameplayThe combat, for me at least, is probably the highlight of the game. It's great fun being able to switch between going ahead and using fire stuff (you get this from the abilities the fire demon that possesses you gives) using ranger-style powers (two daggers) or simply as a warrior. However, I found by self predominantly fighting as a ranger like character as it enabled dual wielding (something I have found really suits the way I like to play).
The combat was also, surprisingly, fairly tactical. Obviously, not quite Dark Souls - but it was just tactical enough that you did have to make a plan quite a lot of the time, rather than just running in with your sword shouting "I will kill you!!!!!!" which is really cool and was something I didn't suspect at all.
Onto something I really really really hate. You are forced to get around by running to places which really annoys me. It takes forever to go anywhere, and that's something that really puts me of the game. But, I did work out that you can just run through anywhere and the enemies don't follow you. As long as you keep running and get to your destination then you can get to your the point on the map fairly quickly. Admittedly, that isn't really a good thing - but it helps you get around quickly.
The quests are not really that fun either. The first one seems to take forever to complete and then the rest are essentially the same thing over and over and over and over and over again. You go somewhere, kill something, someone swears unnecessarily, you go speak to your boss and he says nothing of importance. Of course, that isn't entirely fair, but they really don't inspire me or amaze me in any way. Which I was really disappointed with.
The FeaturesPersonally the music of the game is one of the high points, despite there not actually being loads. A lot of it is used over and over again - but not in the way of Skyrim where you hear it again because the game is so long, because there simply isn't that much of it. Which is a real shame, as what was there was really beautiful, and I would listen to on YouTube of my choice, not just in the game.
From a high point, to a low point. The voice acting, mainly the script for the voice acting, is some of the worst I have ever seen (heard?) in a game. Ever. It's truly abysmal. With the lead character shooting out swears words in every sentence, making him sound like he's a very small child who's heard his parents using them and wants some of the action. Here's a heads up developers, to make you character sound older, to give them depth and grit and something that makes you like them - give them a solid story, and tell it to us! And hire an actor who sounds interested in what he/she is doing! Admittedly I've only played the male version of the lead, and I'm told the female voice-work is much better. However, the NPC's aren't. They're almost as lifeless. But not quite. Honestly, I don't know how a developer can release a game where from the word go you hate the main character, and prefer the voice acting and script of the other, less important people. It seems very odd to me.
The UI is OK. It reminds me a little of that in Assassin's Creed 2, where I said it was probably for consoles, which I would say here as well. It isn't bad at all. Just sort of there I suppose. The HUD really began to annoy me because it pops on and off depending if your fighting something. Now, on paper this doesn't sound too bad, but personally I quite like to see my level progress as I'm going and how my health and magic are doing. That's personal preference, and you can change it (as I found out later) but strangely, this is how it was pre-set. You would have thought more people would want to be able to see, but maybe not.
Was It Fun?Bound By Flame was enough fun for me to enjoy the time I spent in the game, but not enough so I keep revisiting. Simple as that. The quests were, at best, bland and fairly dull. The combat was interesting and finding the right way to do things kept me occupied, but ultimately it didn't make the rest of the game any better. The most fun thing I can remember doing was one of the first missions, where I had to fight my way through the enemies in the Mercenaries base camp. I really enjoyed that, but that was the peal. As soon as I reached the swamp, and had to trudge through again and again to get to the pointless objectives that didn't have anything to do with the story, then back to base then repeat (too many times for me to count) I got really bored.
The actual story of the game was all right, and being possessed by an evil fire demon, that had to be good to stop the ice lords was a really cool concept. But, it was also being done in a very similar way in Middle Earth: Shadow Of Mordor (which, when I get my hands on it, I will review and was our Game Watch last month). In Shadow Of Mordor the player is possessed by Celebrimbor (who crafted the rings of power) and he his helping you overthrow Sauron's servants. SOM has the advantage of some of the richest lore ever created, so many books and 5 (6 coming this Winter) that tell the story of what also happens in that world, whereas Bound By Flame has.....?
Would I recommend you buy and play it? Maybe if you're a massive RPG fan that wants a game that is fairly easy, doesn't really make you think but does have some (almost) very pretty backdrops and awesome music then you should give it a go. But inless there is a large discount on it (from the already fairly low price) then I wouldn't bother with it. If your still interested you could look up some Let's Play's on YouTube and see for yourself. I would be interested to hear your thoughts!