Focus Home Interactive have got an incredibly strong lineup this year, games like Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments show true potential and other like Styx: Master of Shadows simply took us by surprise, so we were really excited to try out Bound by Flame an upcoming fantasy action RPG from the developers of Mars War Logs and Of Orcs and Men.
In Bound by Flame you are a mercenary sent to protect the scholars known as the Red Scribes who are attempting to stop an evil wizard from freezing the earth, to counteract this the wise Red Scribes call in a fire demon. Unexpectedly the demon possesses you and for a very interesting turn of events, the story of the game is not simply the struggle between good and evil, but the struggle between yourself and the demon inside of you.
This marks an important decision that you must make; will you embrace the demon’s power or continue on without it, bearing in mind that as you progress on the journey to stop all evil, the enemies will get tougher and your adventure will become far more difficult without the acceptance of the demon. This leaves two different ways that you can carry out your quest; rely on your companions, or take on the demon’s might and form, risking alienation and the inability to wear certain armour types due to your evolved form.
Demon's aside there are effectively two ways to combat the many nasty enemies from the wizards undead army; there's a two handed fighting style that allows you to wield large Swords, Hammers and Axes, or a more agile Rogue-like style that allows you to easily dodge your opponent and stab at them with small daggers, however these aren't your only arsenal at hand, and your mercenary will also have access to a handy crossbow, the magic of his alter ego -if you choose to accept it- and the ability to lay traps for your foes.
In order to survive you'll have to juggle between the different styles and techniques as you may find that some enemies are too fast for hefty hits, impervious to physical attacks or perhaps deadly when attacked at close range, or some like the enormous Siege Beast require you to access your strategies, all of which can be done so on the games tactical menu that allows you to slow time, much like Spiders' previous game.
In a similar sense to their previous game, Bound by Flame features a crafting system that allows you to make pretty much everything in the game from armour, weapons and ammo to upgrades that can be placed on your wearables to increase their effectiveness. We're promised that the crating system is far more important in Bound by Flame, and I really hope so, because Mars War Logs' had a lot of potential but just didn't hit the mark.
Another important feature of Bound by Flame is your characters customisation, not only will you find your persona changes dramatically if you embrace the demon, but on hand are a range of feats and abilities that you may unlock, as well as three distinctly different skill trees to unleash the true potential of your different fighting styles.
Another really cool feature we got to see a little of was the dynamic time system that will see your surroundings progress through the natural course of time around you, requiring you to really access your tactics as you wander around in the dark, unfortunately it was literally a snippet that we saw, so we hope it is a big part of the game.
A big focus of Bound by Flame is its combat, and now that we got to experience the system hands on we can see why. It's really taken everything that was great about Mars War Logs and expanded it, and although you won't find yourself rolling around non-stop, the dynamic combat will require you to dodge and parry your enemies.
In combat the option is yours to lock onto a target or attack them freely, a lucky hit with a heavy two handed weapon could see their shield snap in two, but the chances are slim, and when you're surrounded by five nasty skeletal foes the last thing you want to do is stand around like a lemon asking to be hit. Whilst your character won't dance around fluidly, sword swipes effortlessly combo together, and if you're Catherine you might have so much fun throwing your weight around that you don't even realise you're almost dead!
We tested out our moves on some very cool undead minions complete with rotted clothes, fractured bones and ancient shields, the high fantasy scope of Bound by Flame has allowed the developers to be far more imaginative with their enemies, and whilst these simple skeletons are your standard generic nasty, they look exquisite, and are joined by ghastly apparitions, some very creepy disjointed things, and the polar opposite; the Siege Beast a monstrous concoction of undead beings.
After getting our hands on Bound by Flame it is easy to see that Spiders have taken everything that was good from Mars War Logs' combat and attempted to better it, whilst you won't be able to roll out of every situation, or throw sand, we've got our hopes high for this one, if only we could have tried our hand against the mighty siege beast.
Bound by Flame is scheduled for a release 2014 on Windows PC, Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Playstation 4.