Little known developer Spiders is making its debut on next-generation consoles with Bound by Flame. This single-player, action RPG is the first of its kind on PS4, as it does not bring a tremendous amount of depth. Bound by Flame puts you in the shoes of a character named Vulcan who becomes possessed by a demon during a failed ritual. Akin to something out of the Lord of the Rings and its Orcs, a group of Deadwalkers are roaming across the lands to eliminate each town. Some of these enemies look pretty scary and detailed, and some bring back memories of the Army of Darkness movies.
The group flees the fort as the linear exploration begins. Sometimes, Vulcan will work with an NPC. You can assign certain commands for the NPC to do, such as focus on healing. In the end, the NPC is not much helpful other than taking blows that otherwise Vulcan would receive. There is nothing open-world about Bound by Flame. There are multiple paths to the same location that allows for partial grinding to help level up. The enemies are certainly no push-over as the game is fairly difficult, especially when confronted with multiple enemies. You will find yourself trying different strategies to get through certain areas and enemies.
As for the combat itself, it uses a parry system that is fairly addicting. Combat feels slow, but natural. If you were heaving giant swords around, you’re not going to do it like Dante from DMC. There is a Ranger stance that uses daggers and allows for quicker movement and stealth attacks. The Pyromancer is what portion the Demon controls and you can light weapons on fire and add some hit points. Points are unlocked for each time Vulcan levels up and can be added to pre-set skills for each grouping. Perks are also unlocked over time.
There are different weapons in Bound by Flame, but mainly swords and daggers. Items can be crafted to insert into weapons and armor. There is also a crossbow that will go mainly unused. Bombs can also be crafted to lure enemies into, which in turn, does not take a tremendous amount of energy out of them. The crafting, leveling up, and everything that should have depth in an RPG are simplified in Bound by Flame. The only looting involves identifying something sparkling directly in front of you, or unlocking a perk that plays a noise of something nearby.
Bound by Flame is completely a single player experience. There are no online features to speak of. One of the good things that define the game is that every decision you make matters, and the Demon will have influence on the outcome. With RPG’s, customer characterization plays a huge role. In Bound by Flame, it is nearly non-existent. Yes you choose up to five faces, hair, and a name. The name you choose is not even used in the game, so it is rendered useless rather than it popping up on your statistics screen.
In terms of graphics, Bound by Flame is a solid looking game on the PS4. The lighting pops brightly through the shadows and the player models have a nice amount of detail. Some of the environments can look mundane, but the texture detail is sufficient. Bound by Flame also features day-to-night transition. During night times, Vulcan can hold a light that makes him more exposed to enemies. The game runs smooth at all times, never hiccupping as it runs at a high frame rate. Not to mention, the enemies in the game, especially the Deadwalkers, look extremely creepy.
The sound in Bound by Flame is a whole other story. Some of the ambient music works and sounds good, but other times it just does not fit. Then there is the voice acting and dialogue. It lacks consistency and just sounds unnatural. There is also forced curse words that do not seem to fit the character. There also is not much in the form of character development in this game.
Bound by Flame seems to be aimed for people who want to play an RPG, but not devote the time that most RPG’s demand. The lack of depth hurts the potential of this game, along with how forced the pace is. The streamlined maps, item crafting, and looting almost make the game seem like an entry-level RPG for people who have never played the likes of Skyrim or Fallout. Even with the lack of depth, the game is still fun based on its difficulty and the fighting system.
+ Fighting system.
+ Day-to-night transitions.
+ Deadwalkers look awesome.
- Streamlined experience.
- Simplistic leveling and crafting system.
- No depth in character creation.
A copy for PS4 was provided for review