Most helpful positive review
30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Bound by Flame First Impressions
on May 9, 2014
I have been avidly watching this game as a great summer stop-gap for Dragon Age: Inquisition, Dying Light, and Destiny (all set to come out this fall for PS3/PS4, respectively). Since the pickings are getting slimmer and slimmer for PS3, this kind of game definitely gets my attention as a fan of games like The Witcher, Dragon Knight Saga, Dragon's Dogma, Dark Souls, and other action-based RPGs. I feel like this is worth your time and money, ultimately, with some caveats that must be discussed so you know what you are getting into on the front end. It's a good game and a great offering from smaller developer.
-Character creation: This has taken some negativity because there aren't a lot of options, but you can choose your main character to be male or female and choose their face and hair. It's not Skyrim's algorithm of choices, but I still appreciate that they gave you some choices. I am very pleased that the developers added both genders, too. That's forward thinking that needs to be in more games.
-Crafting system: EVERY piece of equipment can be customized, from pommels and guards on your swords, daggers, axes, and hammers, to greaves, gauntlets, chest plates, pauldrons, the whole nine. All these have remarkable detail and they show up in the cut scenes with your character as well as in the game itself; for awhile I ran around with a cleaver-style weapon with no guard just because I could. It's a small thing, but a NICE touch.
-Item creation: You can create traps, crossbow bolts, potions, and other goodies throughout the game. The main character is an explosives expert, so it makes sense that you could do this in between fights and in your down time, no crafting table or merchant needed.
Combat Layout: If you played Mars: War Logs, then you already know the system (and if you haven't, give that game a try at $10 from PSN); you have a main attack, a group attack, a guard break, block, and pressing one of the shoulder buttons gives you a radial to access items and slow down the action. What is slightly different here is that holding down the other shoulder button lets you access hotkeys, like your magic, crossbow, and traps. You can also switch weapon styles in real time, going from the Warrior stance (two handed weapons) to Ranger stance (twin short swords) with ease, though there is a realistic delay in switching weapons. Watch out for that.
-Combat depth: Running and and attacking like crazy will most likely get you killed. You do have to watch your enemies' patterns and choose the right stance going in. You can sneak up on enemies and backstab and there is a charged power attack for each weapon type that is pretty satisfying. My favorite attack is the flying knee. It just looks neat.
Companions & The Demon
Ally, Deserter, or Something More: So far I have three at my disposal, with varying back stories, combat styles which you can adjust like in the old Fallout games through conversations, and different motivations. Depending on your choices your companions will follow, challenge, or flat out abandon you in the game as you decide responses and your overall alignment. I understand that you can romance them, too, but I haven't got that far yet.
-The Demon: Early on you are possessed by a Demon who gives you access to some pretty awesome magic powers (like lighting your sword with flame). The story that the demon brings is interesting and hints and a very rich game world and history. As you play, the influence of the demon and how much you allow them to give you power will determine your ending and companions, which is just cool. Clearly they paid some attention to games like Mass Effect and I feel it pays off by giving you a sense of choice and direction.
-Character models: The characters look pretty good overall with good lighting and detail; main characters have a ton of detail, facial expressions, unique items and models. A number of the mercenaries look very similar, which makes some sense thematically, but still can be confusing.
-Environments: The environments, while FULL of stuff to see and check out, have some odd textures and don't quite look right. Also, during the daytime in the day/night cycle the lighting is too bright. The games' scenes really look the best at night, with nice fire reflections and your own character's light source (a white light with some nice particle effects when you turn it on or off). Shadow effects, particularly light through trees on the characters, function well enough but are jagged (PS3 limitations).
Protagonist: The main character is all over the place, sometimes pretty callous, other times trying to be funny and failing entirely, and other times flat out threatening in cut scenes. You can tailor your responses somewhat, but the base character is kind of a cocky jerk. I am hoping that in the story this will be a part of the adventure, ultimately deciding who he is.
Summary: I feel good about this purchase for a number of reasons. The developer has made two other games whose ideas have made their way into this one and you can really see that they are only getting better at what they do; you don't get to see that -often outside of AAA titles and larger developers. Check out some of Focus Interactive's other offerings, Of Orcs and Men and Mars: War Logs if you are curious or on the fence, as a number of ideas and the general controls, menus, and powers will be very similar in how you interact with them. This helped me immensely and is telling of how they are improving with each release as developers.
I would love to see what they have next in this rather rich game world. I enjoy a new take on fantasy, particularly dark fantasy by European developers (The Witcher); I think they have a different set of sensibilities that makes their offerings very interesting and worth your time.
The story is interesting and I want to see how it plays out. The concept of an old world being dominated by these Ice Lords and their undead army and how it affects the people of the game is fascinating and I am curious to see who will survive, stay with our party, leave us entirely, and ultimately make my choice as to how I fit into all of it. The story becomes one of how fighting a losing war affects individuals and what they are willing to do to defend their way of life.
I further enjoy whacking everything I can with different weapons just to see what happens. It is satisfying in a way that finding the perfect sword in Dark Souls can be, and the customization is an added plus.
Try it out.