My review on Bound By Flame, as well as a question.

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My review on Bound By Flame, as well as a question.

Postby CatharticAbsolution » 16 February 2016, 04:23

I didn't know if I'd be violating any forum rules posting my review here, though as I'd seen at least two other reviews either posted on the forum or linked from the forum I was pretty sure this would be permitted. I also tried to contact "Freki" as (s)he seems to be the primary administrator of the forum preceding posting this post, though while trying to make use of the "contact" option, there was no link or any space to type anything, but once again I had the intention. As there are a few spoilers encompassed though, and I didn't state the game was absolutely perfect, I don't mean to be patience-trying posting this, so if it does defy rules I will take the review down upon request, or will respect anyone who does that of their own accord if they deem it necessary.

I wasn't sure if I should make a separate thread about this, though as this is a very brief question I thought I could just ask this here as well. I really wanted to learn unambiguously who voiced Edwen, as I praise both her character and actress to excess within my review, so if possible I'd like the chance to link that to her actress as I expect her to appreciate that quite a bit. While looking at the actors' credits list, I took note of all of the actresses' names, and through doing some research I'm pretty sure Sharon Mann voiced the female Vulcan, so I can rule her out. At the most there were only four or five actresses credited from what I saw, though the only other one I can recall on my own was Leslie Clark(e?), so once again, some very explicit clarification would be very appreciated from anyone who could provide that. I don't think I need to say that, but anyone who wishes to grant any combination of kudos or any kind of feedback is welcome to that might read the review. And so, here it is!

A Bit Rough Around The Edges, But Otherwise An Enjoyable Game For Anyone Interested In Dark/Fantasy Set/Action RPGs.

I actually bought Bound By Flame on a whim, the primary reasons for that being the case were that I'm a general fan of Robin Atkin Downes' voice acting, and it was cool to learn that he'd be voicing the main protagonist, and I read that one professional reviewer actually compared the game to Fable and Kingdoms of Amalur, and I liked both those games. My expectations for this game were at least relatively low, especially as I learned that the average professional score was approximately 55%, though if I were to grant a definitive positive percentage I'd probably give this game an 80%, most heavily due to the depiction of its plot and universe, where one is completely convinced that there's little hope of overcoming the antagonists and saving the world of Vertiel, until the demon enters Vertiel, and even more accurately its very reluctant host.

The protagonist (referred to as Vulcan throughout the game regardless of whatever you might name him/her) becomes possessed by a demon very early on within the game due to a botched ritual performed by the Red Scribes, the only real surviving body/organization of Magi left within the universe of Vertiel, the game's setting (other than of course the Ice Lords, the game's primary antagonists, though one is granted the greatest focus of them all, that being Lord Blackfrost). I'd be embellishing if not outright lying if I said the player is granted several choices (when in fact there are only a few) tied with either further allowing the demon to possess them or to do one's best to preserve their humanity, though there are a few instances in the game where the player can choose between the two ideas, which is the greatest source of appeal and most unique idea as far as the game's plot goes.

If one chooses the demonic path the changes that occur to Vulcan both aesthetically and as far as voice pitch go are drastic, though relatively gradual. If I had to define that the most gradual change is definitely the alteration in his/her voice, as when I first allowed the demon to further possess me, I barely - if in fact at all - noticed that there was any change in Vulcan's voice pitch, but after I played for approximately an hour or so it was more apparent. The changes to Vulcan's aesthetic model are much more rapid/prominent/ostensible, as right as the player first allows the demon to further possess Vulcan, Vulcan's eyes become distinctly red. As the player progresses further through the demonic path, Vulcan's general complexion becomes darker, and at the pinnacle of possession they're nearly completely black, with horns on their head, and that even mildly affects gameplay, most notably as the player is no longer able to wear helmets due to the presence of the aforementioned horns. Other than what I just referenced, most of the changes tied with possession are almost exclusively limited to the cosmetic/aesthetic, though Vulcan does gain an increase in magic regeneration and/or max magic if they completely follow the demon's path, once again at the expense of less physical resistance to some degree. Although this doesn't happen as frequently as it seems like it should, and even when things do occur the reaction doesn't seem as prominent as that seems like it should be, there are occasionally negative reactions to Vulcan - when he/she is predominantly possessed - by his/her allies, as it's true that it's hard to believe that such an entity as terrifying as predominantly possessed Vulcan can be could be a force for good, though Vulcan ultimately - at least ostensibly - seems to have good intentions in mind regardless of which moral path the player takes.

Despite - or maybe even because - of the fact that the human path depicts a more virtuous/traditional hero that one would expect within most heroic fiction, the human path is probably the less interesting of the two in terms of plot and dialogue, though it was interesting to play through to notice the distinction in dialogue contrasted with my first (demonic) playthrough, so I would recommend most people play through both moral paths of the game to get a completely comprehensive experience (I don't know if this could be considered a mild spoiler, though of the two moral plot lines only the humanist playthrough grants a more formal epilogue or even general ending, which is pretty comprehensive so that once again adds to the appeal of choosing that moral path).

Overall, at least beyond the first hour or so within the game, I enjoyed the game's combat (enough to have fully played through the game twice and partially once anyway, and I'm intending to at least attempt to play once more on the highest difficulty which I have not done yet). The game's learning curve is pretty steep, and generally speaking if one chooses the warrior stance over the ranger, they'll be at least mildly handicapped throughout the game. The coolest/most unique aspect of the game's combat for me though was the effect that occurs when one makes use of a parry or dodge, or performs a critical hit. Beyond the point that one of those things takes place, the game is characterized by really prominent slow-motion, which simply looks really cool, and really makes one (or at the very least me anyway) feel like they achieved something, and so it seems that the developers encourage the player to make use of those gameplay elements more so than within other franchises.

If one wants to play the game with a general amount of ease and have a generally more enjoyable time, although there are some options tied with building a character whichever way one prefers, it's definitely most beneficial to focus on the ranger skill tree of three possible leveling trees, with a secondary focus on the pyromancy build of those three possible. I learned what I just said the hard way, as within my first playthrough (predominantly on the second lowest of four difficulties - I actually had to lower the difficulty because the final boss fight was that difficult) I played predominantly making use of the warrior stance and skill tree, which the parry is correlated with, while I learned through my second playthrough that the dodge ability - exclusively tied with the ranger stance/skill tree - is much more eclectically useful in general, though especially against the final boss fight which being brutally honest at least borders on excruciatingly difficult.

Although it's very clear that the main protagonist and by extension generally most well defined character is Vulcan, the player is granted a pretty eclectic and overall well defined group of companion characters which are present through the majority of the game's plot, though a couple the player gains relatively late in spite of those characters being pretty major. With reference to characterization, of the companions my favorite character is Edwen. It's difficult to grant many details about her character without revealing some pretty key aspects of the plot, but it's relatively obvious to discern that she has more knowledge about the game's antagonists than she makes explicit to most, though if the player goes out of their way to get to know her further, she will reveal more about herself and her background if properly questioned/generally spoken to. Next to her, my favorite of the companions would be either Mathras or Randval. Mathras is actually a 6000+ year old lich, and by extension is generally erudite and knowledgeable, and his vast knowledge proves interesting to listen to while interacting with him. Randval is a knight of a now otherwise extinct order, who most notably always speaks in the third person to better depict humility. On the surface he seems obsessed with sacrificing himself for the greater good, though if Vulcan can influence him enough it's possible that could change. The weakest and overall flattest characters in terms of characterization are Sybil and Rhelmar. I would define them as the most virtuous of Vulcan's companions, though consequently that seems to make them the most boring, but Sybil at the very least is depicted as very benevolent and innocent and seems to care the most about Vulcan preserving his/her humanity in spite of the lure of giving into the demon's powers.

While speaking about your allies/companions within the game, ostensibly Sybil might seem the most useful as she's the only one of Vulcan's companions that can heal, which generally does help, though if I had to single out the most useful companion in the game I'd consider that to be Edwen, as she's able to "curse" enmies, or very simply can completely incapacitate them one at a time. The person who's most useful succeeding Edwen would probably be Mathras, who can actually turn enemies against each other, though part of why I was reluctant to use him on an avid basis was due to the fact that's he's actually a lich, and so is actually decomposing and has bones sticking out of his flesh which most could infer is not pleasant to look at whatsoever. Randval is the companion who's only mildly useful, as his special ability is that he can taunt enemies to get their focus away from Vulcan. The most notable time that's useful is if you're low on health, which can prove to be a lifesaving asset on occasion. The overall least useful companion is probably Rhelmar, as he's an archer and his only unique ability is simply focusing his shots to make them more powerful.

To encompass the game's audio quality, overall the soundtrack wasn't of consistently high quality, though there definitely were highlights. My favorite theme within the game would be the "Steppes of Caraldthas" track, as it features a really somber piano which correlates well with the desperation of just barely surviving and living within what's pretty much a minuscule refugee camp. My second favorite theme would be the "Swamp Southern Delta" track, as it's very ambient and even features a female vocalist who sings within some of the game's tracks, and the ambiance actually proves to be a contrast as the music itself was very serene in spite of the fact that the swamp that it plays within was decently eerie. I would say that the composer - Olivier Deriviere - deserves more acclaim than he seems to receive. The voice acting was overall pretty good too. I suppose to some degree I already praised Robin Atkin Downes' acting, though I thought he did a commendable job as the hero (or anti-hero if one chooses the demon's path) throughout the entire game, and of the male actors was overall the best. The second best of the male actors would probably be Gideon Emery (in actuality the only other credited actor) who voiced Randval, as his acting job was generally positively noteworthy. Of the actresses I would easily name Edwen's actress my favorite - I actually really wanted to learn who voiced her as they are not credited on IMDB, though anyone who's a fan of Claudia Black's acting and even furthermore Morrigan's depiction within Dragon Age will probably really enjoy Edwen's acting as she sounds very much like Claudia, and in many ways Edwen and Morrigan are very similar (I've even seen one person characterize Edwen as being similar enough to be Morrigan's long lost sister). The only relatively weak actors in the game to encompass that much would be Sybil's and the female Vulcan's, but even then, neither of them were absolutely terrible, just weak compared with the rest of the cast by my standards.

There was a lot more I wanted to encompass within this review (the graphics, crafting system, stealth system, general criticisms other than what I might've already mildly criticized), though this review is already lengthier than I originally intended it to be and I don't want to make anyone excessively bored by everything that I want to convey, though anyone who has any specific questions for me is definitely welcome to ask me those within any possible comment section of any site where I post this review. Very simply though, anyone who's interested in any combination of dark/fantasy set/action RPGs should probably enjoy this game and obviously should purchase it, especially for the price most can get it for now. If I had to compare Bound By Flame to other franchises that I've played, I'd say it's most comparable to Dragon Age in terms of plot, universe, and characters, and Kingdoms of Amalur in terms of gameplay, in case comparing it to other games will help someone make up their mind as to whether or not they really should buy this game (even more specifically, only the very best elements of each of those franchises are encompassed, as overall I like this game best of the three that were just referenced). Overall, I definitely think Bound By Flame deserves more praise/acclaim than it originally received, as do Spiders (its developer) especially acknowledging what little staff and most likely funds they had to work with, as they've definitely created an enjoyable game with a decent amount of lasting appeal/replay value.
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Re: My review on Bound By Flame, as well as a question.

Postby Rose92 » 25 May 2017, 11:36

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