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Bound By Flame is richly detailed and dark

3:15 PM on 03.20.2014 // Alessandro Fillari

Developer Spiders show off new action-RPG at GDC

The fantasy genre has been a staple of the gaming scene for a long time. They go hand in hand, really. Because of this, it’s common to see titles that look to similar to each and don’t necessarily distinguish themselves from the pack.

Well, I was lucky enough to check out a new title within the genre that seeks to leave a big impression on fans. In Bound By Flame, players can walk the fine line between good and evil, and leave a very visible and lasting impression on their character and the world they inhabit.

At GDC, the developers at Spiders, creators of Mars: War Logs and their last fantasy title Of Orcs and Men, showed off a near-final build of their next action-RPG title. During this private showing, they displayed several sections of the game and went into detail about the choices and customization players can expect in their adventures.

Bound By Flame is a dark fantasy action-RPG set in a land ravaged by war and the forces of darkness. Players take on the role of Vulcan, a mercenary who must use his skills for battle to benefit his own personal agenda, or right the wrongs and save civilization.

During his quest, Vulcan becomes possessed by an ancient demon who imbues him with demonic powers. These powers come at a cost, as the more Vulcan relies on these abilities and make choices that benefit his own personal standing, the more his demonic presence will be drawn out and leave a visible mark. With many different choices to make, Bound By Flame features several different endings that will reflect the influences you've had on every character you interact with.

As an action-RPG, combat takes a more twitch-based and reflex approach to battles. Similar to titles like Dragon Age and The Witcher, Vulcan moves around in real-time and battles groups of foes with a variety of unique abilities. Utilizing active block and dodging along with quick attacks against foes, combat always moves at a brisk pace. At any time, players can bring up an ability menu which shows all of the skills and moves available. When the menu is up, combat slows to a crawl and players can take their time and pick their next move.

Customization and choice are a key element of Bound By Flame, and players will be able to flesh out their character as they see fit. From the beginning, players can create either male or female version of Vulcan, complete with their choice of facial features.

Over the course of the game, players will make important choices that will alter the look and attitude of their character. Focusing on their humanity will keep players in their human form, allowing them to use different types of armors and skills.

However, making choices that bring out the demonic side of Vulcan will cause the character to take the form of the demon that possesses him. The skin color and texture turns a rough and craggy color of obsidian, their eyes begin to glow, and horns sprout from their head.

While their overall attack power increases, their armor will be degraded by Vulcan’s demon form, leaving them more vulnerable to attacks. Helmets are also not an option as the demon horns sprouting from the player character will make them impossible to wear. The attention to detail in terms of design is strong and there's a purpose for everything -- it’s definitely one of Bound By Flame’s strong suits.

For character growth, players can chose between different combat focuses for Vulcan. Leveling up will acquire skills points which can be spent on various skill trees. The Warrior tree focuses on wielding heavy weapons and skills related to tanking multiple foes. Ranger skills places emphasis on long-range attacks (crossbows for instance), traps, and dual-wielding weapons. Lastly, Vulcan’s demonic form unlocks the Pyromancer skill tree that opens up magic skills.

The developers of Bound by Flame claimed that it was only possible to max out one skill tree in the game, but it's designed to also to allow players who wish to spread out their skill points and try out abilities and buffs from every tree.

Eventually, Vulcan will come across characters that will join his quest as companions. There are a total of five companion characters to meet and interact with, and they will aid him in battle using their own special skills. As Vulcan is a combat-focused character, some companions will be vital for their support abilities, long-range attacks, magic skill, and melee prowess. Depending on how you build your character, you might be more inclined to stick with certain allies over others.

I came away pretty impressed with Bound By Flame. While granted it isn’t too different from other titles, it does seem to do things pretty well. Combat looked fun, there's a lot of options to consider for your character plus it’s great to see that your choices actually have a lasting, and very noticeable impact. Bound By Flame will be seeing a release on May 9 on PC and all current consoles (except Xbox One and Wii U), so players can expect to take a trip through this intriguing action-RPG soon.

Alessandro Fillari, Staff Writer
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A San Francisco native, he's an admirer of the city's diverse culture and lifestyle. Prior to joining the staff, he was a contributor and an editor for his college newspaper where he wrote articl... more   |   staff directory

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