Hear me moan,
Bound by Flame; the western RPG that fell off everyone’s radar, not because it was in the shadow of a beloved videogame IP but because it was a piece of shit. Bound by Flame is the giant expensive firework that refuses to light – and when it does it never takes off, but opts to fall on its side and spin in circles instead.
If you don’t know what Bound by Flame is it’s because you’ve forgotten and that’s fine because Bound by Flame is completely forgettable. The human mind is capable of blocking out traumatic events and Bound by Flame is a painful experience, so your anatomy is doing you a favour.
Bound by Flame came out in 2014 and it didn’t particularly make anyone hot under the collar. I’ve heard terrible things about its story, characters and dialogue so I thought Christmas was the perfect chance to grab this smoking carcass of ‘entertainment’ for free (free for me at least. Sorry Mum).
And everything I heard/read was absolutely true. In fact the reviews don’t do it justice. Play Bound by Flame and you’ll soon realise how much worse it actually is.
After 2 hours I wouldn’t judge you for ejecting the disc and burning it because there are numerous problems. The technical errors rival Bethesda’s.
Frame rate issues – when you sprint it’s like entering hyper-speed. Vulcan travels faster than the Millennium Falcon. He’s the Millennium Vulcan (nailed it)! • During cut scenes the camera will focus on nothing in particularly, as long as it’s not the character that’s actually talking • Enemies don’t react to your blows. It’s like fighting a ghost, or at a stretch, an inflatable clown • The game stops to load when you move through a door
That’s more than 3 technical faults – Like I said, numerous! They are easily ignored once you’re deep into Bound by Flame but by that point you’ll ignore anything.
You play as Vulcan, a member of the Freeborn Blades. I know what you’re thinking: what a stupid name. So you change your name to Gary Phuckings and prepare for the hilarity that will follow when your party call you Gary Phuckings. But it never happens, because from the start of the game every NPC continues to call you Vulcan. What kind of twisted bullshit is this? The developers must be playing a prank.
Vulcan is possessed by a fire demon and this sets up the morality system in the game: are you going to be a hero or a douchebag? You decide! And I chose to be a good guy, but it didn’t feel like I had much choice. There were only a few obvious opportunities to become demonic which I purposefully swerved away from – but the premise of Bound by Flame is to either hold back the demon inside you or let that fucker loose, and it never felt like I was given many options.
Fable did it better a decade ago.
I actually like the story. The premise would make a great book or TV show. It also makes for a great game but unfortunately Bound by Flame isn’t it. You’ve got these 7 Ice Lords that are sucking the WorldHeart dry and if the WorldHeart dies so does the world – save the WorldHeart, save the world. Team up with valiant heroes or succumb to the powerful wishes of your demon parasite. Fight the 7 Ice Lords alongside your brethren or reduce their kingdoms to puddles as a fire god.
Then, in Act 4, the game abruptly ends. If you choose to sacrifice yourself the game ends with one of the NPCs narrating the rest of the plot. If you choose to steal the WorldHeart’s power the game just ends and the credits roll.
There’s a third ending but I don’t particularly care. It won’t lead me to an Act 5 so why even try?
The Burning Desire
For some inexplicable reason there’s a part of me that holds a light to Bound by Flame. I want to play it again. Maybe as a woman this time. Maybe I’ll romance one of my allies. Maybe I’ll get my horns and pink-eye. I’ve spent so much time in the world of Bound by Flame that I actually like it. Sure, the combat is utter tosh and the characters are all despicable, but now that I’m passed all its flaws I’m willing to put myself through it all again. Want to retaliate? Post a comment. I lament once a week but you can follow me on Twitter @LeeLaments where I moan every day.