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An ambitious game that is ultimately hindered by poorly implemented gameplay.

This topic contains 0 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  gameboy3145 1 year ago.

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    gameboy3145
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    Bound

    Rating: 3.0 – Fair

    An ambitious game that is ultimately hindered by poorly implemented gameplay.

    Consider watching my video review on Bound instead of just reading it.

    Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eK3v3jPAzRk

    Lately, games have been tackling more serious topics that get covered in other mediums. Bound is one of those games. Though it may feel a little pretentious at times, it seems to be somewhat of a first in what it’s trying to do. The game is unique in the story it’s telling in terms of themes. It’s also a game with gameplay that bored me to tears. I happened to get the game for free on PS Plus and it looked interesting, so I decided to review it.

    Bound manages to show a woman’s melancholic family past. This is handled with care and attention. What wasn’t handled with care was the platforming, which is clunky and generally mediocre. Like the protagonist being held down by her sad family history, the bland movement system holds Bound back from greatness. The gameplay mechanics are shallow at best and tedious at worst. Bound wallows in style over substance. The animations are smooth and very flashy. This adds to the natural joy of movement. However, if movement were a chair, it’d be a chair missing a few legs as the techniques associated with movement disrupt the smooth motion provided by animation and all you get is a wobbly, unstable chair.

    The game provides a variety of obstacles, but they were usually hindrances rather than enjoyable challenges. By that, I mean that the level design were just the rough orange peel holding me back from the succulent insides that are the story segments. I enjoyed the story for what it was. It has a strong degree of minimalism with how it handles the characters in the real world. What it doesn’t show with minimal detail is handled in somewhat of a cheesy way that I found hard to take seriously.

    The story slowly pieces together as you progress through the game and it gets quite interesting as you unravel the protagonist’s past. The smaller details of the game made the experience all the better. The notebook’s final completed image fits so well in the story, though admittedly, it made very little sense in reality. Actually, it was a contrived detail to evoke a sense of warmth near the game’s end. The game works when you just focus on the game’s simple ideas. If you look a little deeper, you’ll see the cracks that are don’t hold up as well. The image lacks the perfection up close due to the blanks no longer being filled in by your mind. Bound’s narrative works better as a simple story about facing one’s troubled past and deciding what to do after reliving said past. The actual reliving of events is rather vague and lacking the depth I would’ve preferred. Admittedly, the developers at Plastic don’t seem to do all that well with detail oriented storytelling, so focusing on minimalism is probably the safer option for them. One detail in particular that I like is the fact that the protagonist removes each notebook page after finishing the level associated with the page. It really feels like moving on from the past. Though throwing it away seems closer to running away from the past in a way.

    The story’s highlight for me was definitely the end. This isn’t just me spitting on the story. It’s just the fact that the last thing that happens in the story happened to be the most powerful sequence.

    The game deserves respect, but I honestly don’t feel that impressed by the game as a whole. The game’s saving graces are the fact that the dev. team was willing to have a story covering themes not commonly used in video games and the game’s overall presentation. I’m usually willing to forgive games if they have iffy gameplay, but the good parts of Bound really do get overshadowed by the bad.

    Bound starts off in a realistic environment and then throws us into the strange dream world. The contrast between the two initially made it hard to see how the two connected. It is self explanatory after the first level due to the way they transition back to the real world. I did like how the level selection was like diving into a picture in a Super Mario 64 sort of way. It definitely evoked that sort of feeling to me. It was nice that you could select a level right off the bat, but it doesn’t seem to change much in the big picture. In a game like Super Mario 64, you saw what environment you were getting into. In Bound, it’s more like you know what memory you’re going into. It’s just not pulled off as well in Bound.

    It’s not just the picture diving where Bound feels similar to Super Mario 64 however. The dancer seems to be a poorly implemented version of Mario. This isn’t exactly the case, it’s just that the long jump and wall jump in particular that felt that way. The movement in Bound isn’t fun. There’s no joy in movement in Bound past the nice animation. The running animation looks off to me, so I usually spam the long jump. Regardless, the game would’ve been vastly improved had the game’s movement been improved. The level design didn’t even matter that much. A game like Journey pulled off movement so well and level design was hardly at the forefront of that game. In Bound, I didn’t want to move forward. It was a chore in disguise. Even the dancing mechanic slowed me down. It would’ve been neat to have had a dancing mode that was enjoyable to actually use. The developers decided to use it as an invincibility button that slows the player down to a screeching halt.

    The game makes excellent use of its presentation. The music fits so well with the game’s vibrant environments. There are rail segments that entirely focus on providing a visual spectacle. They’re quite the reward for playing through each level, but they lack interaction besides posing. I’d prefer a Sonic Adventure esque rail segment instead, but it’s nice nonetheless. The lack of freedom just rubs me the wrong way. It makes me lean towards recommending watching a let’s play instead of actually playing the game. Bound has gameplay the same way that Mario has a story. It’s just there, but it’s not the real reason to play. I’m fine with games not focusing on gameplay, but here, it’s not enjoyable for me. The more I think about Bound, the more I notice the glaring faults in its gameplay, rather than appreciating the rest of what Bound has to offer. It’s an aspect that clouds the rest of a great experience.

    The visuals are colorful and unique. The character designs in the dream world have a sense of childlike imagination. It’s not my style, but I can see its appeal. They certainly feel like they belong in the dream world due to how strange the designs are. The environments are creative and a pleasure to look at. I enjoy the visuals quite a bit overall. The music didn’t stick with me all that much, but it was effective at adding to the world and the events that took place. Some pieces are beautiful such as Acceptance and Reformation, while others like Denial fit the sadder scenes. Heinali’s music definitely added to the game’s atmosphere.

    Without a doubt, Bound provides a unique experience with its presentation and narrative. However, its faults forced me to part with the idea of fully recommending the game. Bound is a game I’d recommend if you’re willing to deal with the cumbersome gameplay. Its presentation and story push the game up from what I’d just call a 3rd rate platforming game.

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