Review: Bound by Flame

Last updated 12:49 12/05/2014

TAKE THAT: A fight scene from Bound by Flame.

FLAMING DEMONS: "The art design is only slightly less inspired than the truly terrible level design."

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Every now and then a videogame comes along that's so thoroughly incompetent, so gobsmackingly inept, it has to be played to be believed.

Bound by Flame is one such game.

An action-RPG from small French developer Spiders, no one was really expecting it to be great.

But a lot of us were hoping it'd be decent, enough to scratch the fantasy RPG itch while we wait for the new Dragon Age and Witcher games.

It's a long way from decent.

Bound by Flame's graphics are 2008 ugly, even on a shiny new PlayStation 4; from the characters, to the environments to the framerate, it's a dog.

And the art design is only slightly less inspired than the truly terrible level design.

There's no grand, open world to explore; just a series of linear outdoor corridors connecting some ugly villages with some unforgivably dull dungeons.

The story tries to emulate the mature fantasy tropes of Game of Thrones - but fails miserably with embarrassingly bad writing and voice acting.

And then there's the gameplay.

It's just. So. Bad.

The combat is particularly offensive - your character is so weak and enemies are so overpowered that just about every fight degenerates into a frustrating, tedious, repetitive slog. And then you die because of the dodgy camera and start over.

Of course, not every RPG can be the next Skyrim.

But low-budget games like Dragon's Dogma have managed to transcend their constraints with some unique ideas and solid mechanics.

Bound by Flame has neither.

VERDICT: The only good thing about Bound by Flame is the way it occasionally manages to evoke memories of much better games. Oh, and that it's mercifully short.

Available now on PC, PlayStation 4 (version tested), PlayStation 3 and Xbox One.

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