Bound By Flame – Game Review and Analysis
By Dan Maurer
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Producer: Walid Miled
Composer: Olivier Derivière
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360
Release Date: May 9, 2014
Genre: Action role-playing
With the highly anticipated release of the new Dragon Age game for next generation consoles still months away, RPG fans have been clamoring for a game to satisfy their need to play a fun and addictive RPG game. Unfortunately, Bound by Flame is not the game that will hold you over, or hold your attention for long for that matter. While it seems to get the basics down, the bland story and poor voice acting makes this seem more worthy of a budget title price tag as compared to the $49.99 asking price it has now.
As Deadwalkers run a muck and the doubt of man’s future lingering, you inhabit a character named Vulcan, either male or female, and then setting out to turn the tide along his or her Freedom Blades. The story has potential, but eventually collapses because of certain things. First off is the writing. In a day and age where shows like Game of Thrones can produce startling surprises, Bound By Flame barely raises an eyebrow. Moments that are intended to shock eventually pass with little fanfare, mainly because the characters are so underdeveloped that I don’t care what happens to them in the first place. It also doesn’t help that the main character doesn’t bring enough to the table. Little attempts at back story fall flat once battles begin, and we’re left wondering why we should care. The voice acting itself is outright poor. The developer was wise enough to include accents, but the voice-overs never really lend the kind of conviction to make us care for the characters. It could almost be considered on the level of a local public access network production, so take that for what its worth.
When you’re not looking around for treasure or talking to characters, a bulk of your time will be spent in combat. Bound By Flame’s combat is very rough, even on the easiest difficulty you’ll have to be fully aware of your surroundings to survive. Sometimes even that’s not enough. With dodge, parry, and stealth kill mechanics in play, Bound By Flame’s combat is more active than most RPGs. Unfortunately, that somewhat lies in it’s problem. You’ll have to dodge and fight with precise timing to survive, but the controls can be sluggish. On top of that, the auto targeting system is hit and miss, and the enemy AI can be too aggressive for you to do anything other than chug health potions and try to barrel your way to victory. These frustrations are compounded by the enemy monsters tendency to reset back to their spawn point should you drag them too far, instantly recovering their health and wasting whatever supplies you used against them in the process. You do get NPC party members fighting by your side, but for the most part they are completely useless and more often than not they get destroyed over and over again before you even have a chance to find out what exactly happened.
Bound By Flame’s visuals are a very uneven experience, much like the rest of the day. The musical score is impressive though, oppressing the player with ominous beats and strumming up stirring fanfares for the more epic moments. The voice acting is done quite poorly for the most part. Most of Bound By Flame’s characters have a foul mouth and while this can be funny at times, at others it just comes off as desperate for shock value. The art direction leans too heavily on the brown and grey’s effect, with most everything having a bit of a muddy look. The characters themselves lack the kind of facial animations or lip synching accuracy needed to take things seriously. For a budget title this wouldn’t be such an issue but for a game that expects you to pay the $49.99 asking price, its a little far fetched if you ask me.
Bound By Flame tries hard to be a game for die hard RPG fans but leaves a lot to be desired. For $49.99 its hard to recommend the game at this price point. If you are desperate for a game to hold you over until the next Dragon Age game releases, then give Bound By Flame a spin. For the rest of you who want a fulfilling RPG experience, I would recommend you either skip this title or wait until a price drop. Or better yet, spend your money on Child of Light (which is about 1/3 of the price and much more enjoyable).
PunchDrunkGamer.com Final Score: 5.5 out of 10
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