Bound by Flame Preview
Choice is a common theme in video games these days. However, player decisions don’t often have a dramatic impact on the gameplay and as such, those “choices” feel somewhat superfluous. They’re anything but in the latest from Spiders Studios, though. Bound by Flame, an action/RPG featuring a protagonist who is possessed by a demon, will force you to make one critical decision: Use the dark powers at your disposal, or fight them. Using them will make you more powerful but it will also ravage the hero’s body…at the end of the adventure, he may become a demon himself.
Featuring a medieval setting and plenty of brutal weapons from that period (swords, spears, axes, crossbows, etc.), you’ll be making decisions from the start. For instance, concerning the available weaponry, are you going to opt for light and fast, or heavy and slow? You can deliver more powerful strikes with the latter, but the former will allow you to steer clear of enemy attacks. That crossbow will prove to be a trusty tool, as it will be able to fire various elemental bolts. So, maybe you’ll opt to wield a dagger and the crossbow, and you’ll eliminate your foes from afar. To get close, you’ll stealthily approach and dispatch however you see fit.
All weapons can be upgraded, as can the abilities of the main character. As you progress through a dangerous world filled with loot and enemies, you’ll stumble across all sorts of items and equipment. The developers have implemented a crafting system that will give you even more freedom to create the sweetest weapons imaginable. You’ll also be able to create traps, various potions, and more powerful armor. As this is an action/RPG, it will include all the depth necessary for the “role-playing” label, and the additional strategy and tactics are a godsend for those who wish to rely more on their brains than their fingers.
For my part, I like the fact that when you bring up the quick menu, the action slows to a crawl while you make your selection. This means it’s not entirely real-time, but it’s not exactly turn-based, either. The hybrid mechanic should work out just fine; I always appreciate that extra time. I like having the opportunity to select a health potion without blows raining down on my head. But to return to those aforementioned choices for a moment: Depending on the choice you make regarding your powers, some chapters will have different narrative segments. If you’re trying to resist the demon that’s burning inside you, you won’t see the same sections your buddy – who’s just loving his increasingly evil powers – sees.
I also really like the artistic style of the game, as it reminds me of a cross between Dark Souls and Diablo. Replete with three different skill trees, horrid enemies (including gigantic dragons), loot galore, a lengthy campaign, tons of items and equipment, and the ongoing struggle between good and evil, this one really has it all. We’ll even get a party! As we progress, companions will join our quest depending on the player’s actions; these relationships can blossom over time, too. No word on if these companions can be fully outfitted and trained in the same way as the hero. I’m guessing not but at least we’ll get some help, right?
Bound by Flame is scheduled to launch on the PS4, PS3, Xbox 360 and PC on May 9. I really miss the old action/RPGs of a few generations ago; I had so much fun with the likes of Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance and Champions of Norrath. I’m hoping Bound by Flame is kinda like a spiritual successor to those titles. If it doesn’t live up to expectations, I suppose I can still look forward to Sacred 3.
4/3/2014 Ben Dutka