Bound by Flame is a by-the-book action RPG for PS4, PS3, X360 and PC, and manages to entertain while never really blowing you away. We reviewed the PS4 version of the game, developed by the French studio Spiders which started out developing adventure games but have recently released RPG titles such as Of Orcs and Men and Mars: War Logs.
Spiders has shown diversity and promise in their titles, but all their games so far received mixed reviews. Bound by Flame is likely to be no exception to that rule, especially because screenshots and movies evoke memories of games such as Dragon Age and Dark Souls – titles that are hard to live up to. Still, when it comes to taking inspiration from succesful games in the genre, Bound by Flame more than delivers. Character creation allows you to select gender, facial features and other familiar traits for your hero. Your character will also change throughout the game, not just by leveling up also through the choices you make during the main story campaign. Part of your development will also be due to the crafting items with objects in your inventory, offering a slightly different look alongside subtle differences in attributes such as speed or strength.
Sound familiar so far? Bound by Flame takes these elements and throws the player headfirst into a fantasy adventure full of real time combat against enemies such as the Shadowdragons and the Deadarmy warriors. You’ll also run into allies who give you the choice to become friends, adversaries or even romantic partners – all affecting the story and your chance of success somewhat. I say somewhat, because I didn’t get the feeling that a second playthrough would yield completely different results if different choices were made. Still, the outcome of individual fights can definitely be affected by having a strong ally at your side or not.
During these fights, you can choose between three combat styles: slower and powerful, fast and agile or a style that relies more heavily on (long distance) magic. All are balanced fairly well, making combat diverse enough to remain fun for the duration of the game. How long the adventure is depends on the number of side quests, but even during a very quick playthrough you’ll still spend over 10 hours. This would require skipping most (if not all) of the game’s sidequests – expect about 16 hours and more opportunities to develop your skill tree otherwise.
One of the game’s more interesting gameplay dynamics is your constant trade-off with between your own soul as a hero and the power of a demon that you can use to strengthen your character. The choices you make do not only affect your hero’s appearance, it also offers you an additional way to develop your character besides the usual crafting, level grinding and collecting. It’s an interesting addition, though not as groundbreaking as it may sound. The same can also be said for the game’s presention, which looks good but doesn’t quite say “next gen” (although the screenshots may suggest otherwise).
If you’re a fan of the genre with a PS4 then you’re currently not spoiled for choice and you’re likely to have a good time playing through Bound by Flame. The game is clear about what it does, and what it does it does reasonably well. Don’t expect it to leave a lasting memory, but it can certainly entertain you for a few weeks while you wait for the PS4 action RPG portfolio to grow.