Developed by:Spiders Published by:Focus Home Interactive Genre(s):
  • Action RPG
  • Platform:
  • Microsoft
  • PC
  • Sony
  • Cost:$39.99 ESRB Rating:MATURE Players:1 Release date:May 9, 2014 Reviewed on:PC

    Bound by Flame

    Spiders is a developer known for their Action RPG’s. Not because of their great gameplay or riveting stories though. No, they are known for promising titles that unfortunately don’t live up to their potential. So you can imagine my thoughts when I heard of Bound by Flame, which seems to be their first attempt at a big, AAA-ish title. Will it fare better than Mars: War Logs or Of Orcs and Men? Can it complete with the other established games in the genre? The short answer is…no.

    In Bound by Flame you take control of a mercenary in league with the Freeborn Blades. The Blades are tasked with defending a group called the Red Scribes as they perform a ritual to summon a Demon. Their hope is that the demon will help them win a war between them and the Deadwalker army and Ice Lords. Of course, things go wrong and the demon ends up possessing you and…look the story is hard to follow. The idea is that you can use the demon’s powers to fight off the invading Deadwalkers while succumbing to his will or you can fight his influence while dealing with the game’s villains.

    From the very beginning I noticed that Bound by Flame was very similar to Spiders’ last game, Mars: War Logs. A lot of the combat mechanics, for instance, are upgraded versions of what’s featured in the previous game.  Your left click is basic attack while your right click can be charged for a more powerful area attack. Pressing tab will slow down the action and give you time to cast a spell, use items, or give orders to your party members. There are two styles of combat: the warrior that specializes in two-handed weapons and breaking the enemies guard and the ranger that specializes in daggers and stealth. Regardless of which style you use, other abilities and items are always available (such as your crossbow and fire spells). These are all well and good on in theory, however the fighting as a whole is inconsistent at best. At times it was very easy because of very abuse-able tactics and other times it felt way too difficult because of what I can only call bad game design.

    An example of this happens early in the game, before you have had time to level up. Getting knocked down by a tough enemy can lead to you being stuck in an infinite loop of death. Usually in other games in the genre when you get knocked down you are invincible until you get back up where you can be hit again. In Bound by Flame, once knocked down you’re open to repeated attacks that’ll keep you from getting back up. With enemies hitting like mac trucks and a vulnerable knockdown state, fights often lead to seriously frustrating moments. All of this is made worse with AI allies who aren’t very smart. Basically, going from super easy fights to ridiculously hard ones at what seems like random intervals isn’t very fun.

    The Crafting system was also lifted from Mars: War Logs as well. It’s somewhat generic in scope and didn’t really change how I progressed through the game; there were still super hard/easy encounters regardless of what items I had.  Also, using gold (the game’s currency) in crafting health potions seems counterproductive. I’m glade the leveling was at least handled in the way one would expect. Killing enemies and doing quests will grant you experience and when you level up, you’ll earn points to place in one of your skill trees and perks.

    Speaking of quests, most of the side quests offered satisfying rewards. Sadly, the random quality that’s found in the combat is also present here. It got to the point where I couldn’t tell if the game was buggy or if I was doing something wrong when trying to complete them. One quest, for example, sent me to a bridge to stop a Deadwalker convoy from delivering an item. Every time I left the camp to go to the bridge the quest would fail, saying that the convoy got away. After choosing to reload the game a few times I decided to say “forget it” and move on. While doing another quest I ran into the convoy I was supposed to stop before and killed all of the enemies. After that the quest switched to “completed”. Though I was glad I was able to finish the quest, I wish it would have worked as it should from the start.

    There were other issues that popped up during my playtime. I especially didn’t like how the game handles choice; I usually try to be the “good guy” but my choices never seemed to match that role. It was just confusion, like the story itself. On the bright side, at least the visuals were good. Graphically it won’t beat out some of the bigger titles of the genre, but things certainly look better than in Mars: War Logs. I can tell that Spiders is getting better in this department. The sound quality wasn’t bad either, though the voice acting could’ve used some work. At times the tone wouldn’t match the situation at hand, the strong emotions seemed forced, and the jokes always fell flat. The music and ambient sounds were great though.

    All and all, Bound by Flame isn’t a bad game. It just has too many issues to really compete with longstanding action RPGs.  It needed more polish before launch; buggy side quests and random spikes in difficult really hurt my overall enjoyment of the game. There are just too many good games out (and soon to be released) to recommend this title over them.



    The game isn’t broken but it definitely needs some work.



    It’s not the greatest ever in the visuals department, but there is an improvement over Spiders previous games.



    The voice acting could be better, though the music and ambient sound are great. It does a good job when it comes to immersion.

    Replay Value:


    You can level a different skill tree and make different decisions to see how the story changes but, I don’t think it’s a fun enough game to warrant playing though again.

    Final Score:


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