Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Asylum Reviews: Bound [PS4].

The recently released game, Bound, developed by Plastic and published by Sony Santa Monica Studios is a beautiful, intriguing game.

Story-wise, a lot is left up to the imagination of the player. You dance and shimmy your way through the game, following the paths throughout. The chapters are randomly generated in a way, able to be played in any order. Each chapter has you, the dancer, working your way through the mysterious narrative that is Bound. The chapters of the game are laid out like the chapters of a book, where a sketchbook of some sort is seen at the beginning, and which is used as a Chapter Select function. The story of the game can be interpreted differently based on the order you play these chapters, but overall the story seems to be revolving around a family. 

The game's story is quite hard to follow, with minimal story-telling throughout, and as mentioned, what is there of the story is really left up to your own interpretation. Without giving too much away, the "memories" that you end up in can be pieced together to mould some semblance of a story, but unfortunately, one that still left us a little confused.

There's no doubt that the game is beautiful, much in the way that Journey is, and it can certainly be quite mesmerizing to just watch your character dance and twirl away, so I can't fault it on its aesthetic. But if anything, the "real world" parts are a stark contrast graphically, but I can't help but wonder if this was a conscious choice to differentiate between these "worlds", and the symbolic imagery throughout.

The gameplay was good, but felt better to look at than play, much like games such as Dear Esther or Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, in which most of the feel of the game comes from its beauty. There are platforming elements within, but these are fairly minimal. Whilst there are a lot of secret areas and collectibles, we have yet to discover all of these. We managed to find a few of these secret islands, but of what we have seen so far, they don't seem to contain a hell of a lot, bar a few collectible fragments that you obtain from a floating sphere. (And yes, I know what you're thinking, but you really need to play the game to understand).

There's a lack of enemies in the game, which is unfortunate, as some enemies, or at least a semi-boss-fight at the end of each chapter, just to change the pace up a bit, would have been beneficial. The only "threats" to you in the game - and they aren't even that, purely serving as a minor nuisance, slowing you down until you twirl your way through - are the paper planes, wavy grass and floating shards which surround you during certain segments of the game. Obviously enemies aren't always necessary to make a game good (or even enjoyable), but I feel that they could have added some further interest into the game (and given different ways to utilize your dancing skills).

There are a few cutscenes which left us a little mind-boggled, regarding (what we're referring to as) The Giants, who are somehow connected to your character. Again, without going into too much detail (not that there's a whole lot of it going on, minus the art of course), overall the ending of the game left us just as confused as we were throughout.

Hopefully, a second playthrough would help us to understand the story more, but we may get to that later. And with the game being designed with a huge forethought for Speedrunning, it certainly does call for further attempts - although I'm not at all sure how I'll manage to do it in under 50 minutes, like one of the trophies entails.

In the end, we'd have to rate this a 7.5, mainly based on the beautiful graphics and peaceful gameplay, but the vague story prevents us from rating this higher.

What are your thoughts on Bound?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

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