Bound By Flame: The First Two Hours

Normally I prefer not to curse in these posts as I’d like to maintain some level of mature respectability, but it feels like a pair of hammers are hardcore fucking the inside of my skull and Bound by Flame is fucking terrible. Fuck the rules, I’m just too tired to care.

See, I don’t normally ragequit video games. I value the almighty dollar and prefer to get my monies worth out of all products, though as it turns out, I value my time more. This has been an introspective learning experience.

Woohoo…

So Bound by Flame, the $40 shitheap Spiders developed which stole two and a half hours of my life! I’m told there are about 27 more hours to go, but that thought just makes me depressed. The mature side of me is going, “But there’s so much you didn’t experience; surely you can’t judge a game by only two and a half hours worth of play!”

Maturity can go fuck itself tonight.

Bound by Flame’s worst enemy, as far as the first two hours are concerned, is its gameplay. A game can have a plethora of problems and still be worth experiencing, but if it plays like shit, then nothing else is important.

Gameplay is the thing that connects all of the other aspects of a game together, and the thing that connects Bound by Flame’s bad voice acting and terrible writing is fundamentally flawed. At best it’s boring, but at worst—and oh how the game enjoys being at worst—it’s broken.

Combat is slow and sluggish, and even the big weapons feel like they lack weight. Swinging them isn’t fun, and there’s little depth to be had (at least in the first two and a half hours). There aren’t any other meters to play around with, only your health bar and a mana bar. Swing your sword, hold parry to block, then swing your sword again. Back and forth and back and forth.

It’s boring.

It becomes downright frustrating when you’re attacking more than one monster at a time, for the monsters do a shit job of advertising their attacks. The whole game would function drastically better if the monsters telegraphed their intentions, but instead they wiggle some tiny thing that’s hard to make out (the camera is pulled back way too far) and then a large chunk of your health is missing.

The more monsters around you, the harder it is to tell what any one of them will do, and you’re multi-hit swings are slow and weak. If you get surrounded, you’re pretty much going to die.

I thought I could circumvent a few things by trying to be a more ranged class since my fireball spell seemed to be pretty powerful. I stuck a bunch of talent points into it and set off with the aim of blowing all of my foes up!

As it turns out, my hero is a shit aim. Half the time my fireballs would miss—and I shoot three of them at once—and enemies are so fast they’d close the distance before I could fire off more than a few.

The game is frustrating to play, and it doesn’t even give you the knowledge that it’s fair or even gives a shit. If you die in something like Dark Souls you know it’s your fault; if you die here, it’s because the game is downright clunky and poorly designed.

The writing is terrible as well. I didn’t expect a winning narrative by any means, but I also figure it’s impossible to fuck up hordes of revenants. This is some fantasy 101 shit, and I’m perfectly fine with bottom-of-the-barrel fantasy, but even here, the game just doesn’t try.

Characters vomit out words because the plot demands they speak, and no one seems to care about the environment around them. My hero gets possessed by a demon and I kill a big monster. That’s some serious shit! So at first she goes, “Oh God! I’m burning” and sounds like she’s in pain; five seconds later and she’s goes, “Wow! I killed that thing. Don’t I kick ass?”

Everyone around her just shrugs as if they weren’t even there.

The dialogue itself is filled with anachronisms and is poorly delivered, and all of it amounts to exposition.

The first conversation you have with the demon that possesses you is infuriatingly bad. The demon attempts to speak in some butchered form of Early Modern English but gets too lazy to keep the charade up every other paragraph, and the actual content is just drivel.

To cap it all off, the PC version is a poor port. I couldn’t map anything to my extra mouse buttons despite this being the year 2014, and I couldn’t map any of my main spells to anything but the 1-4 numerals. I have a keyboard with more buttons than I rightfully need, yet I can’t use most of them? How the fuck can this still be a problem?

When Bound by Flame works, it’s boring and poorly constructed. That’s when this shit game is at its best. Otherwise the gameplay is a horror of imbalance and frustration where one fighting stance is so much better than the other that there might as well only be one. Who designs a game where half the way you can play it is unplayable?

Spiders, apparently.

Fuck. This. Game.

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