PlayStation Universe

Bound by Flame PS4 Review: great action RPG potential in rough packaging

  • submit to reddit

on 13 May 2014

It takes something special for potential to overtake shortcomings, and that notion holds fast in the gaming industry, where even the smallest of faults can deteriorate the perception of AAA titles. Equally so, something so intriguing can sprout from a new venue that yields something as flawed and yet so progressive, changing the name of the game in a different direction. Bound by Flame is that game. Using great inspirations, development team Spiders has taken the best from the best action-RPG franchises and created an idea most invigorating. A few hurdles need to be traversed, but the rewards outweigh the efforts and the future looks bright for such an up-and-coming development team.

No matter what gender, name, or physique is used for the main character, he or she is titled Vulcan. The dwindling mercenary group Freedom Blades is in troubled times, so they’re stuck resorting to guard duty for a ritual taking place in an isolated enclave. As expected, the scenario becomes much more intense than it already is, and they’re attacked by the walking dead led by a monster that looks like an undead gorilla combined with an elephant. As the siege takes place, the guarded ritual goes awry and a demon possesses Vulcan as a result.

The weaknesses of the game are apparent from the outset. The first moments are almost a warning of what’s to come in regards to writing and voice acting. Most actors deliver wet blanket-caliber performances that make Nicolas Cage look good, and the facial movements don’t come close to giving the plot delivery any favorable aspects. Though the writing tends to be brutally dry, incredibly vulgar, or sporadically awkward, there are glimpses of brilliance that almost make the main character feel human and believable. Making good or bad choices also give the story a different feel, even if the outcome doesn’t change as much as it could. Making good decisions always feels good, because no one is getting destroyed; however, making bad decisions leaves a bitter taste in mouth as usually someone important to the story ends up dying. This side of the plot is very intriguing, because good and bad aren’t as crystal-clear as they are in games like Mass Effect, so the consequences for in-game actions don’t quite deliver their full effect until the circumstances appear completely down the plotline. Still, on the story front, the ends don’t justify the means, which is unfortunate for what has shaped up to be one impressive concoction.

What's also unfortunate is that enemy variety ends up being as repetitive as the combat's button-mashing. Higher difficulties will require players to execute more combat variety for survival, but memorizing enemy routines comes quickly and the only challenge that comes from battles is against multiple enemies: one-on-one fights are a cake walk while fighting three or more undead baddies has more variables to manage.