Some of my favorite games, such as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire, allow you to choose between good and evil. More importantly, those choices between good and evil affect the story of the game. Not many games share this characteristic, so when I heard about Bound by Flame, I was excited. It is unfortunate that my flame of excitement soon froze over.
The main villains in the game are called the “Ice Lords” and they control a massive, unbeatable, ever-replenishing, zombie army. They have been laying waste to every civilization they come across, using the fallen soldiers to increase their army’s numbers. A group of monks/magicians/librarians called the “Red Scribes” believe they know a ritual that could turn the tide in the war, so they hire the Freeborn Blades, a mercenary group, to help them perform the ritual. You are a mercenary named Vulcan (you can choose another name, but everyone still calls you Vulcan) who is sent on this mission. Things predictably go wrong with the ritual and a demon is put inside Vulcan’s body. From then on, you have to choose between your human-side or gain power by choosing the demon side.
There is an upgrade system that splits into three classes: Warrior, Ranger, and Pyromancer. Completing a class tree does not make Vulcan overpowered as the classes really just affect your style in combat. You can choose between the Warrior stance and the Ranger stance at any time during combat regardless of what upgrades you have chosen, and Pyromancer just lets you cast fire spells when in either of the stances. In the end, upgrading is more about personal preference than gaining actual advantages.
The combat is challenging in Bound by Flame. If you let up, or don’t take your enemies seriously, even the weakest enemies can pretty easily overcome you. You are really forced to learn to block or dodge and use different attack or powers or end up dying… a lot. That being said, the combat feels very similar to games of the past such as Witcher. I don’t mean to say that the combat is bad, just that it seems unoriginal.
The crafting system in the game is simple and beneficial throughout the game. While I didn’t personally find a ton of use for the arrows or traps, I found the upgrades for weapons and armor to be pretty cool. Aside from benefiting my character, the upgrades actually added parts to the armor and weapons, changing their look. Materials for crafting were also relatively easy to come by.
All that considered, I don’t think that Bound by Flame really met the challenge. The story is pretty short with every side quest being pretty much handed to you. There wasn’t really any exploration and it is not really an open world game. Most of the time the game felt like a dungeon crawler without the actual dungeon. Also the moral decisions are not little conversations throughout the game, but instead four or five big, obvious choices throughout the game.
The voice acting is pretty terrible, with uninterested voices and inaccuracies between the voice and the captions. This may be common here and there in many video games, but it seemed to happen in every conversation. Entire lines were changed or ignored in some cases. This may be a pet peeve of mine, but it made it really difficult to talk to the other characters.
Bound by Flame is not a terrible game, but I feel that it doesn’t really break from the crowd. There is nothing sensational about Bound by Flame and it can’t really stand up to its Role Playing Game competition such as the Elder Scrolls series and Knights of the Old Republic. Bound by Flame is a game based on its story, and the story isn’t all that good.