Bound By Flame is a third person fantasy action RPG developed by French video game development studio Spiders.
The game’s setup opens with a video monologue of someone explaining that the world of Vertiel has been pushed to the verge of complete destruction by the incursion of the ‘Ice Lords’, a group of immortal necromancers leading armies of undead known as the Deadwalkers.
You play as Vulcan (you can choose your name in character creation but they call you Vulcan in-game anyway), powder master of the Freeborn Blades, a renowned group of mercenaries. The Freeborn Blades are hired to protect the scholars that are hoping to perform a ritual that will stop the Ice Lords. And this is where you may see one of the main story problems with the game, a problem that I had with it anyway.
Almost everything has been enveloped by the undead armies and those leading them. You only know of one remaining city and yet, the tone never addresses this. It’s treated more like failure is simply a matter of death for the characters and not a matter of extinction for the people of Vertiel. Only once in the game does someone seem to have lost hope, and that only lasts until you tell them you need something.
Anyway, the ritual, needless to say, doesn’t go as planned and it results in you housing a demon. One who at various predetermined points in the game may grant you more power in exchange for a slight physical alteration and an increase in your ‘possession level’. This doesn’t affect too much, apart from later decisions between Vulcan and the demon and the endings you can choose at the end of the game.
Another thing I had a bit of a problem with was the reveal of the demon. After something is channelled into you during the ritual, you are promptly thrown out of the building by a large beast and as you slowly stand up, coughing smoke, the demon simply says, “I shall not let thy weakness be our downfall.” This prompts the initial boss fight with your newly acquired magic skill tree. Fair enough they may not have wanted to linger on what’s happened to your character but it has almost no impact in that way. The fight is followed up by a cut scene speaking with the demon. I think using that as a reveal of what has happened could’ve worked better.
Basically, after the ritual didn’t stop the Ice Lords, the demon it summoned into you is now the only chance at stopping them and the game is about your journey to do just that.
The game has a nice visual design in it’s settings; vivid swamps, frozen wastelands, a village and in it’s creature design. Unfortunately regarding that though I found the first boss of the game to have the coolest design, and was waiting for something in the same vein as it but to no avail, a gargantuan undead beast with tusks and a rotted out stomach…
Don’t get me wrong, some other creatures do look cool, the second most notable being the Concubines, of which there are five in the game. I just found it a little disappointing that what I found to be the coolest was in the tutorial stage. It’s not even that it was the only one in the game, as later someone mentions that they were ready to fight several of them. There are also creatures such as the Ice Wraiths and the Deadwalker Generals which had interesting designs, as well as the tick-like creature found in the swamp.
The animation is fine save for the lip-syncing which doesn’t seem to fit at all. The range of voices is also a little all of the place regarding accents which I found to be just vaguely irksome.
The game has a reputation for it’s difficulty, and yes, the combat can be tough but It gets easier as you improve as a player. It’s more reliant on the player getting better at the combat than the character getting stronger (which does happen, don’t worry).
Unlike most game where you effortlessly slaughter a horde of enemies, this has you struggling against almost anything that outnumbers you. This can be helped by taking one of five companions with you though they are mostly only useful as meat shields to distract your enemies (or you can reverse the role if you want).
This may put some people off but I like it, whenever you’re fighting an opponent, it’s like a person fighting a person and not say… a wrestler fighting a small child (I’ve got nothing for that). It helps give a weight to the combat.
Overall I really liked the game, the world and story are interesting if not a little poorly presented. The combat is challenging but gratifying, and the music, is great, most notably in the village and the final fight.