Reviews by bigbadmclovin
Many good ideas in one blended messbigbadmclovin | May 21, 2014 | Review of Bound By Flame
Bound by flame it's a game that starts badly! no doubt . But its not a bad game and not nearly as bad as the critics made it to see .
In the game you are Vulcan , a member of the company the freeborn blades, group of mercenaries who have been hired to protect a group of scribes who are preparing to perform an ancient ritual magic in the ruins of a forgotten temple as last resort in an almost lose war against an undead army led by Lord Blackfrost, 1 of 7 sorcerers that thousands of years ago were able to create a portal to subtract the Worldheart energy, a place where the energy that feed the world is created. And they have used it to try to destroy the earth as known . During this " job" the group is invaded by a legion of enemies and forced to seek refuge inside the temple; during the ritual a being from Worldheart manages to transcend the earthly plane and chooses you as his new vessel to live. Now Vuncan shares his brain with this being and becomes part human and part demon and through that have the necessary powers to influence and possibly change the course of the war.
The story has nothing exceptional but it is effective , attractive , and has the elements to get you hooked . The dialogues are well structured , with certain dyes in the mood ... and here comes the first good poorly implemented idea, because although everything sounds good , the fact is that the work of dubbing is terrible! and completely ruins the immersion, do not manage to empathize with any character other than yourself.
During the adventure Vulcan meets several characters who accompany him; a knight with great berserker force that can drive enemies away from you, the daughter of the leader of the scribes with the power of healing and shields in battle , a witch who can drain life from enemies and use the power of ice to make them slow, an elf with bow that can poison enemies and an immortal 6,000-year -old with the ability to control the minds of the enemies. These characters through dialogue provides Vulcan, at the purest style of Mass Effect, decisions that he will have to take that will affect the course of the game in terms of allaince and that gives us the guidelines to discuss his playable part.
Bound by flame is a fantasy story driven RPG - make with the same structure of The Witcher 2, the game is divided into acts and get 2 types of decisions , alliances and betrayals with your companions and keep your humanity or embrace nature demon inside you now . Each with different pros and cons.
Vulcan has 2 battle modes , a slow but strong with 2 hands swords , hammers and axes ( the warrior ) and a more agile but weak with daggers ( the ranger ) , and in addition to these two styles Vulcan can place fire traps , use crossbows with poisoned arrows; and thanks to his new half, controll fire spells.
There are 3 trees of skills to build your character, the warrior , improving elements such as the life bar , health regeneration, the ability to interrupt enemy strikes or resistance to the enemy interrupt yours. The ranger , in which we can improve elements such as speed, the ability to give lethal strikes from behind in stealth mode , mana regeneration , the ability to leap dodge the blows of the enemy , among others. And the fire spells, in which we can improve 4 different spells , throwing fire projectiles directally, set your weapons on fire to increase damage , gets a blast of fire if you find yourself surrounded outnumbered, or create a protective shield of fire that will decrease damage taken and damage enemies that touches you . The statistics of each of the ability of each tree can be upgraded up to 3 times before moving to the next level .
Apart from these trees skills , with each level up ,you receive 1 point to spend on your character 's stats , strength , effectiveness of potions , his skill with various weapons , lucky for finding ingredients, trap damage and darts or even the amount of ingredients we spend or recycle! to create improvements for weapons and armor and making potions , ammunition and traps!
The 2nd poorly implemented good idea, although the advance system is clear ; you get soooo very few points for so many options! after 25 hours that lasted the game for me and I did almost all of the side quests and getting virtually all possible achievements of a single campaing ; I could not unlock a full tab! I got a balanced character, but all these options directly affect the combat system and that makes the difficulty curve becomes tedious for a good portion of the game.
Like I said; the game starts badly and this includes its combat side as well, initially feels too rough, wrong and badly balanced. The combat is based on dodge / block to counter-attack (very much like Dark Souls), the use of Firespells, improvements to weapons, armors and skills and since there is not much variety of enemies in the game; around 10 or 12 in total, they have the same difficulty lvl throught the game, and they are not that difficult (except from the final boss which is just stupid!), it's just that you feel that they have too mucho HP! but it's not, it's just that since you have not unlocked or progress your character, you're completely useless and your hits do no damage, so it gets way too boring during the prologue to the end of the first act when you start feeling that you are starting to be more at the level of the enemy.
You can bring 1 companion in the missions, but although I mentioned the main advantages of each one, we should also mention that as Dragon Age 1; You can define the attitude and strategy in fighting of your ally, but in a much much simpler way, are basically 4; ranged attack, melee attack, use special skills or the AI decide how they will behave. Another idea that feels unfinished though is that as you improve your character also appears to make your companions, but you do not find out, and you can not even see their stats or apply points to them.
There is a radial menu that you can open with the touch of a button at any time, even in combat, and slow down the game, at which time you can change these orders, also set traps, drink potions, shoot, use spells or change style combat, BUT, these actions takes time to perform after you choose them, and the enemies do not stop, if an enemy gets you down before you get time to drink a potion of life or get up after laying a trap, stop the action completely and could be your end, so you have to choose the right moment and position to make use of this tool.
There are multiple sets of armor including chest, boots, gloves, and helmets which can make improvements ass pads, belts, knee and elbow pads as well as improvements to your weapons. All these improvements affect not only statistics but also the visual aspect of your gear.
To make these improvements you use ingredients founded scattered around the map, dropped by fallen enemies or we can buy them from merchants who are practically useless! since (another mistake) you can buy ingredients with gold from anywhere in the map from the pause menu! the only reason to talk to traders is for a simple side quest or get rid of things you no longer want (which isnt also vital because it can destroy the equipment to "recycle" ingredients).
The maps are very reminiscent of Dragon Age 2, pretty much a bunch of long hallways, but tangled and it invite you to explore a little, but very limited and somehow they feel empty which leads us to the following ...
Graphics and sound
Bound in flame, in its PC version, which is the one that I got, has a solid graphic section; good lighting, good treatment of particles, good modeling of the main characters, good textures. Unfortunately has a big problem, murderer in this kind of fantasy games, and the reason it fails to convince ... it has a very poor artistic design. In open areas it feels like a very static and lifeless universe and its urban areas and closed areas it feels empty and recycling.
On one side has a very good technical aspect, with solid optimization with more than enough levels of customization options like shadows, textures, particles, FXAA, SSAO, anisotropic filtering, dynamic resolution and FOV! it comes without patches and without major bugs since day 1, and on the other hand their body animations are few and somewhat robotic and it has inexpressive facial animations.
The camera is sometimes frustrating and it can get you killed but is thankful that, at least on PC, you can change the FOV (I recommend the camera as far as possible)
The music, while not memorable it does has some good scores, more than anything vocally.
Conclusion I mentioned other games not to make comparisons but to use them as reference points of all the ideas that Spider wanted to include in this game. They say "Do not bite off more that you can chew" and this is true with this game, all the elements are there, the ideas are clear and the intention of a great RPG game shows! but never quite naturally coupled resulting in a feeling of lack of polished playable, lack of development time, expertise and financial resources. Good ideas made a mess. Still, altough is short, it is very entertaining, better than many other game with greater acceptance by the specialized critics and a perfect choice for any lover of fantastic story driven RPGs while waiting heavy titles like Dragon Age Inquisition or The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.