Bound by Flames is an epic story about a mercenary named Vulcan who finds himself in a fight against impossible odds. It is a true under dog story of immortal mages and an army of the walking dead. It seems that all of Vertiel will be lost unless The Red Scholars, the people you’ve been hired to protect can pull off a ritual that will allow them to defeat the Lords of Ice. The ritual doesn’t go so well and let’s just say, you are going to have to defeat the Lords of Ice on your own…Kinda. You are also possessed by a demon who will let you borrow his power in exchange for ever-increasing control of your mind and body.
Bound by Flame is a story driven action role-playing game. The decisions and choices you make have a profound and far-reaching effect on how the storyline unfolds. I found out quickly and with some finality that conversation choices can change the entire storyline of the game. In several RPG’s conversation seems to be added as a side note to help advance the story and you always end up just speed clicking through the conversation choices. In bound by Flame the conversations with the NPC’s matters. At one point I found myself asking each character what they thought about a major decision that I was forced to make. I went with the majority consensus but was impressed by the depth at which each character explained their position.
The demon himself has no problem speaking up and trying to influence you to do his bidding and is quite convincing at times. As the game progresses and your enemy’s get stronger the promise of power your demon can grant becomes more tempting. True to form I noticed that the choices the demon offered were always self-serving and lacked compassion for the other inhabitants of Vertiel. Surprised right?
The combat system is buggy to say the least. In more than a few of the boss battles I found myself standing on the side lines as my companion is pummeled by any major baddies and all of their henchman. I am the hero here right? I would expect my reputation and general heroic swag to have drawn the fight to me.
At times the camera would pan and produce some nice combat angles but in some instances the action would be totally out of frame which is extremely aggravating. The other thing that scored high on the aggravation meter was the fact that baddies would respawn in areas that I had already cleared. Not just milling around or in the same general area of the map but in the exact same position. Doing the exact same thing. Facing the exact same direction. So when you move from point A to point B you know exactly where the enemies are going to be. The secondary missions happen on the same levels as the primary missions so moving back and forth between levels only causes you to have to kill the same baddies over and over again.
The combat system is ridiculously easy to exploit. For instance when playing a rogue type character spam the dodge key and the baddie can’t hit you. You can run away from the fight and as soon as you get to a certain distance as if on queue the bad guy will turn around and makes his way back to his assigned post. Put these two facts together and you can pound on the monster until you get in trouble dodge, dodge, dodge then run, heal up and jump back into the fight for more. To make matters worse your companion that went down before you ran, will get up, dust themselves off and jump right back into the fight as if they never went down in the first place.
If your back is against a wall spam dodge until you break free.
If you do happen to get knocked down the system goes into a excruciatingly long animation of your character standing up. Be ready to restart at your last save point because baddies will take advantage of this and pond you to a pulp while your on the ground. There is nothing you can do about it except take the beating.
Would you rather just run through Bound by Flame? Just run! Literally run from point to point on your map there is nothing stopping you from running right past your enemies.
I for one played the majority of the game using the rogue fighting style so it annoyed me a little when the cut scenes would replace the weapons I had used for the majority of the level with the two-handed weapon I had used hardly at all. Weapons beside the point, the cut scenes are rendered beautifully. The boss scenes really gives you the feel that you are a few minutes away from an epic battle.
I was also given a choice to enter the name for my character at the beginning of the game that was totally ignored for the rest of the game. I don’t mind not being able to choose my character’s name but don’t give me a choice then totally ignore it.
I for one did not have a problem playing a character that is possessed by a demon. Life is all about the choices we make right? Fact is I think the concept of your evil choices showing up physically on your character is an interesting concept.
If you are looking to dive into a story Bound by Flame tells a nice tell through it’s cut scenes. The story could have been better if some basic character personalization and combat flaws had been addressed before launch. The juvenile personality’s of the characters did nothing to move the story forward and hurt the overall game play.