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Bound by Flame Preview

blake_peterson By:
GENRE Action / RPG 
PUBLISHER Focus Home Interactive 
M Contains Blood, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence

What do these ratings mean?

The nice thing about letting a demon take up residence in your soul? Lowered heating bill.

From French developer Spiders, Bound by Flame distinguishes itself in a number of ways and though it's most likely to be among first RPGs released on PS4, it looks like it draws heavily from Dark Souls and The Witcher for inspiration. And it's also the only game at GDC that had an energy drink given out with a press kit. In short, it looks challenging, has three different possible endings, and like it says on its energy drink can, it wants you to "Unleash Your Inner Demon!"

In Bound by Flame, you play as Vulcan (no, not Spock) voiced by Robin Atkin Downes as a mercenary of the Freeborn Blades who takes part in a battle to summon a demon capable of defeating the seven Ice Lords and their army of the dead ravaging the world. Naturally, with a name like Vulcan, the name of the Roman god of fire and volcanoes, you are in short order possessed by the demon.

This is where the game's system of choice comes in. As Vulcan you want to save humanity, but the demon only wants to save the world which creates an interior conflict. Through dialogue choices, you can decide how much the demon influences Vulcan or how much he pulls back, yielding in-game advantages and disadvantages depending on your choices. Choosing to play more human will give you greater physical attributes, while playing as a demon will enhance your magical abilities, but armor will be less effective and the horns that sprout from your head mean you can't wear a helmet.

This plays into three skill trees, which make up the game's three combat styles: Warrior, a two-handed weapon-wielding tank; Ranger, a rogue-like attacker who can counter-strike if they dodge at the right moment; and Pyromancer, equipped with the demon's flame abilities. It's possible to fill out about two-and-a half skill trees completely, or by skipping some options gain two ultimate abilities for each style of play.

In combat, the warrior's gameplay looked like Geralt of Rivia's from The Witcher, right down to the same spinning slash animations. Though it seemed as though this style is the only one that has the potential to break shields, it was also slower. The ranger's gameplay was much faster, but left the player much more vulnerable, and the Pyromancer looked like it was useful for long-range attacks with spells like a fireball or area-of-effect spells like fire shield.

Additionally, there's a crafting system. In the middle of combat, Spider developer representative, Walid Miled, opened up the menu screen to craft a bomb (during gameplay before the possession). Everything consumable, he told us, can be crafted in-game. Another nice touch was that the menu screen didn't pause the game but slowed action down immensely. We watched as a skeletal archer slowly drew back his bow to fire an arrow at us, before Miled finished crafting the bomb he then used to blow up several foes.

You also have the ability to unlock five companions, of which two can accompany you at the same time in-game. Add to this what looks like a deep crafting system, a challenging degree of difficulty, and an epic story with internal conflicts to match the apocalyptic storyline, and you have what looks like a solid RPG for both current-gen and next-gen consoles.

Bound by Flame releases on May 9th on the PS4, PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.


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