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Games : Give it a Rent
Ranking:
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Release Date: May 9th, 2014 Movie Release Year: 2014

Bound by Flame

Overview -

Based out of Paris, Spiders development studio may still be considered new to the video game industry. From the investigative mysteries of 'The Testament of Sherlock Holmes' and 'Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper', to the less-than-notable 'Mars War Logs', they've yet to have a mainstream breakout success. Now, it seems the developer has turned to the more mainstream action/fantasy RPG genre, which already means that their latest development effort, 'Bound by Flame' is ambitious.  By targeting the PS4, that ambition quotient gets raised even higher. With a surprising amount of marketing attention provided by publisher Focus Home Interactive, 'Bound by Flame' may be the title needed to boost Spiders to the next level of video game development accreditation. But are their efforts creative enough to stand apart from an already crowded genre?

OVERALL:
Give it a Rent
Rating Breakdown
VIDEO
AUDIO
Tech Specs & Release Details
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p
Audio Formats:
LPCM 7.1
Release Date:
May 9th, 2014

Video Review

Ranking:

I'll be honest, as marketing efforts for 'Bound by Flame' ramped up, as I watched more and more developer videos, I became excited for the games' release. While still being cautiously optimistic based on other titles from the developer, the final presentation simply did not live up to my expectations. Although not totally disappointing, the character and environmental animations were not without its share of rough edges. Simply put, they did not meet the standards of what I have come to expect from this current generation of home consoles.

With that said, I was generally impressed with the creative creature designs, especially as the game progressed. Whether from the labyrinthine swamps, or the larger boss battles, the creatures that you face emitted a strong sense of menace and fierceness. Their attack styles nicely matched their originality, but their frequent encounters left me consistently looking for something new.

Bound By Flame PS4

Although the camera often became confused while fighting larger groups of enemies, the frame rate never took a hit. It was also rare that I ever encountered environments struggling to catch up through pop-in. This was a pleasant surprise and resulted in a solidly performing game from start to finish.

Audio Review

Ranking:

Spiders clearly struggled with the writing for 'Bound by Flame'. Consequently, it should come as no surprise that the delivery and voiceovers are equally difficult to bear. Aside from the selected voice actors being completely out of time and place, there was very little in the way of a solid performance. I'm still convinced that the actor that portrayed Vulcan was a Nolan North ('Uncharted') impersonator. Take a few moments to imagine a similar sounding voice actor in a fantasy setting. It simply screams failure. Add to this a near-complete cast of throwaway performances and you've got yourself the biggest failing of 'Bound by Flame. That's not to say every character was inappropriately voiced; some did a passable job. But when even the best the game has to offer mispronounces key phrases (yes, that actually happened), it can ruin even the most noble of efforts.

Bound By Flame PS4

Where there was clearly a lack of qualified actors involved with the development of 'Bound by Flame', the musical score was somewhat of a saving grace. Although repeated often, the calm and serene moments, broken up by the much more enjoyable combat sequences, came close to hitting the mark. I especially enjoyed the rapid and booming drum score when entering desperate fight scenes. It elevated the experience and emitted a sense of overwhelming odds.

Final Thoughts

The fantasy RPG is more than a little crowded, and breaking into that genre is likely to be a difficult task. With the help of Focus Home Interactive, the marketing campaign behind 'Bound by Flame' raised more than a few eyebrows, including my own. Everything about the game had me interested and I was more than a little excited to occupy my time with this new adventure in between some of the bigger AAA titles still to release. Not without its shortcomings, 'Bound by Flame' is still an ambitious title for developer Spiders. It sets an interesting, albeit familiar, tone, and delivers an enjoyable and addictive combat system. Unfortunately, this being a grand adventure, the developers should have realized the importance a well-acted character can have on the final product. Had the game been voiced by more qualified actors 'Bound by Flame' could have become a major sleeper title for 2014. Instead, these poor performances have left an unfavorable impression. It's worth visiting for the combat mechanics, but staying for the duration may be a difficult task.