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Bound by Flame: an unpolished but unique action-RPG

Game Review | July 29, 2014 7:09 pm
By Meta

Developed by Spiders, published by Focus Home Interactive.
Single-player action-RPG, released May 9th, 2014.
Rated M for Mature


In Bound by Flame, you create a character who is nicknamed "Vulcan" and is a member of the Freeborn Blades, a mercenary company with a cast of burly male characters whose accents range from exaggerated Scottish brogue to impossibly modern American English.

The Blades are hired on as escorts for a group of scribes & mages, and when a ritual goes south it summons a demon that hops in to your character's body and starts talking to you.


Besides requisite warrior (heavy melee) and ranger (stealth) stances, your character gains access to a third skill tree of pyromantic magic thanks to the demonic passenger. You also take part in some conversations, similar to Dragon Age and Mass Effect, in which the demon offers its point of view. If you follow it, your character slowly becomes more demonic and you gain some new perks, but you also start to become party to some pretty terrible actions involving party members, friendly NPCs, and eventually whole groups and towns.

The easiest way to describe Bound by Flame is to say that it borrows liberally from Dragon Age, Dark Souls and Kingdom of Amalur, but it also goes a long way in creating its own atmosphere via some questionable but entertaining writing, full of snarky humor and profanity, as well as some unusual and interesting party members such as a reanimated skeleton and a knight that talks in the third person.


Despite the story and conversation trees, the meat & potatoes of this game is the combat. It is here that BBF has the most similarities to the Dark Souls games. Every swing and dodge in combat has a weight and timing to it, and you are forced to gain familiarity with your weapons and enemies' tactics if you want to make any progress. Unlike Dark Souls, however, enemies do not respawn every time you save, and armor pieces only affect your stats and not your ability to move and evade. BFF is also like Dark Souls and Kingdom of Amalur (on Hard) in that you are at a severe disadvantage when engaging multiple enemies at once, so battlefield awareness and threat priority are critical.

The visuals are inconsistent--some areas look great and have good lighting and textures, while others look like last-gen concept rejects. The music makes for good atmosphere and the sound effects do their job without really standing out.

There are some nice little touches in the game that help make it different and interesting, my favourite being that when you upgrade parts of your armor and weapons, each upgrade has a specific visual aspect. The same elven breastplate will look different depending on whether you choose shoulder pauldrons that add physical resistance or decrease attack interruption, and the same sword will have different guards and pommels based on what upgrades you choose.

The last thing I want to mention is the crafting system. It is a bit weird as you can use your gold to make the most basic components, but it is also nice to have a self-reliant character that can create healing potions, crossbow bolts and explosive traps out in the wild instead of being forced to retreat to a populated town to restock. You will rarely sell gear you find, as recycling it into crafting components is far more valuable. You can choose skills and feats for your character that make them more proficient with the crossbow and traps, but they still serve as a great backup option even if you invest no points into enhancing them.

TL;DR:
+ combat system rewards strategy and tactics, punishes mashing
+ crafting system makes you self-reliant
+ party members are unusual and very useful
+ the snarky & profane writing is technically "bad" but very entertaining
+ your character actively changes as you decide to follow or ignore your demon
+ the grey moral choices have unexpected impact on the world & story
+ boss fights are tough but rewarding
+ upgrades to gear are reflected visually
+ surprisingly good music

- inconsistent visuals, some bad textures
- combat is incredibly difficult until you get a party member that meshes well with your preferred style
- the parry/counter skills in the Warrior tree are practically mandatory
- the game as a whole is rough around the edges and has a few glitches (save often!)
- only 3 weapon types for Warrior use and 1 for Ranger

? why do enemies get so many free swings even when your interrupt is maxed out


Overall, I give Bound by Flame an 8.3. The combat is fantastic, and the story, characters and writing set it apart from other action RPGs.

Highly recommended to fans of Dark Souls, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Dragon Age, Dragon's Dogma, and people that play Skyrim for the combat and loot.

As of this writing, you can get the game brand new for $40 or less, so go get it!
Rating: 8.3 of 10
Reviewed: Bound by Flame
Keywords: None

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Re: Bound by Flame: an unpolished but unique action-RPG
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Here's the trailer; it doesn't show much in the way of gameplay but it does a nice job explaining the game's big grab:

Re: Bound by Flame: an unpolished but unique action-RPG
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how are the achievements? I might check it out after i beat the last of us since there is nothing else to play out.
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You should mention if it is 360 or Xbone in your review! Looks like a good game.
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I'm a fan of this game but the story is one of the worst I have ever encountered. Which like you said sets it apart. It's as if they spent all their money on a kick ass art director, composer and programmers only to let M Night Shyamalan write that toilet paper of a plot. The endings alone gave me cancer. Not the sexy kind either, colon cancer.

Spoiler alert:
Ending 1: Mediocre
Ending 2: Terrible
Ending 3: Kill yourself with a spoon

My best advice is to plug in some heavy metal during the dialogue (Which I found super shitty to excruciatingly bad) The Romantic portions for example made me chuckle as it resembled Napolean Dynamite trying to mack on a talking manikin or some shit, stop trying to piece together a story that never explains itself whatsoever and enjoy the genuinely good (and challenging) combat system offered here.

Wait for another price drop as well. 19.99 sounds about right. Also trophies/achievements are pretty easy.


Pro story synopsis:

You are a random dude who makes a living as a mercenary somehow (in a world with more walking dead then walking patrons).
Spoiler: Click here to toggle spoiler

You get possessed by a demon

that alone has the power to fight the ambiguous Ice lords. Who are they? Why are they exterminating all life on the planet? Oops they forgot to add that into the story. These ancient mages have intimidating names like "The Chiller" and "Blackfrost" (Seriously). So don't go in expecting to get absorbed into a rich fantasy world. This game will leave you out in the cold.

So anyways abusing the demons power will corrupt you and using your own strength purifies...yada yada yada...your allies will react to you differently (In their usual deadpan delivery) and no matter what you decide to do it won't make any sense anyway. Enjoy!
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Quote by Vermillion Haze:


I'm a fan of this game but the story is one of the worst I have ever encountered. Which like you said sets it apart. It's as if they spent all their money on a kick ass art director, composer and programmers only to let M Night Shyamalan write that toilet paper of a plot. The endings alone gave me cancer. Not the sexy kind either, colon cancer.

Spoiler alert:
Ending 1: Mediocre
Ending 2: Terrible
Ending 3: Kill yourself with a spoon

My best advice is to plug in some heavy metal during the dialogue (Which I found super shitty to excruciatingly bad) The Romantic portions for example made me chuckle as it resembled Napolean Dynamite trying to mack on a talking manikin or some shit, stop trying to piece together a story that never explains itself whatsoever and enjoy the genuinely good (and challenging) combat system offered here.

Wait for another price drop as well. 19.99 sounds about right. Also trophies/achievements are pretty easy.


Pro story synopsis:

You are a random dude who makes a living as a mercenary somehow (in a world with more walking dead then walking patrons).
Spoiler: Click here to toggle spoiler

You get possessed by a demon

that alone has the power to fight the ambiguous Ice lords. Who are they? Why are they exterminating all life on the planet? Oops they forgot to add that into the story. These ancient mages have intimidating names like "The Chiller" and "Blackfrost" (Seriously). So don't go in expecting to get absorbed into a rich fantasy world. This game will leave you out in the cold.

So anyways abusing the demons power will corrupt you and using your own strength purifies...yada yada yada...your allies will react to you differently (In their usual deadpan delivery) and no matter what you decide to do it won't make any sense anyway. Enjoy!



Lmao- this is more in line with other reviews I've read. I think one used the phrase "insultingly bad" regarding the plot.
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