Platforms: Windows, Linux, PS3, PS4, XBox 360
I went into Bound By Flame not necessarily with low-expectations, but certainly with wrong ones. I was expecting a mouse-click frantic ARPG reminiscent of the Diablo franchise. But that’s not what I found. Bound By Flame is a more traditional RPG, with a not-so-traditional combat style.
The combat seems to be what makes people either love the game, or absolutely hate it. I personally found it awkward, and I died a lot to my own failure to dodge, even on the easiest difficulty level. It felt a lot like a clunky version of the combat mechanics in the Elder Scrolls series; WASD movement, with mouse clicks to swing. However, unlike the TES games, right click is not your block, but rather it can be held to charge a more powerful, AOE attack. I really wish I had thought to try out the controller rather than using the mouse and keyboard; I feel like the controls were optimized for play with a controller.
There are no classes in Bound by Flame. You have the option of two stances: warrior stance, in which you wield large, two-handed weapons and can actively block and parry using the left control key, and ranger stance, in which you are able to move more quickly, vault backwards by pressing Q, and attack with twin daggers. You can switch stances at any time, even in combat. You also have a hot-key-able crossbow, but ammo is scarce in the early game, and once you run out, you will need to gather materials to craft more.
The crafting system looks like something that’s fairly robust (and surprisingly user-friendly). You can craft your own consumables, as well as traps, and ammunition. Your weapons & armor are all upgradeable via crafting, and it’s possible to recycle items to obtain crafting components. In the first hour of the game, I found no actual loot drops – only crafting materials, but the majority of that time was spent bumbling through a lengthy tutorial type section of the game.
Oddly enough, after over an hour in game, I don’t feel like I really have a good enough handle on it to give a comprehensive review. This either means one of two things: I’m playing way slower than I should be (average time to complete is about 15 hours), or the meat of Bound By Flame is pretty slim pickings. There are four difficulty levels, and there are three possible endings, which may add replay value for completionists. On the plus side, the in-game art & cut scenes are gorgeous, and the voice acting is better than average (although the writing in places is pretty questionable).
I’m sure it’ll surprise absolutely no one that’s been paying attention – I didn’t pay full price for this game, and I wouldn’t recommend that anyone else do so. Given the fact that there are no additional game modes, no different classes to add replay value, and no additional DLC, it doesn’t feel like a $30 game. Add to that the fact that the combat doesn’t feel as fluid and controllable as I think it should, I can’t think of a compelling reason to buy this game over a hundred other pretty but shallow RPGs out there.