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GDC 2014: Bound by Flame Preview

March 21, 2014 Written by Louis Edwards

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Hero or Demon. Which path you take will decide your fate and how your journey plays out.

Bound By Flame is an Action RPG (read hack-n-slash) developed by Spiders Studios that lets you play as a mercenary possessed by a flame demon in a Dark Fantasy universe. You will have to choose between the powers offered by this demonic passenger or to reject his influences and develop heroic talents of your own instead. Progression of the demonic influence will be reflected by the transformation of the hero’s body. The more demonic powers you use, the darker and more evil your character becomes.

The weapons are a wide variety of medieval types that includes scores of swords, both light and heavy, as well as spears and a crossbow. The crossbow shoots three types of bolts: plain, fire, and explosive, and is very effective at a decent range. Your weapons will decide your fighting style, which is either light or heavy. Light fighting will have you with a dagger in each hand while going heavy will have you using a long sword that even Braveheart would approve of. Each weapon can be upgraded and, if you have collected the proper material, you can craft some truly destructive hand tools. Blocking an enemy’s attack will allow you a counter-attack that is excellent in battle. Fighting head-on isn’t always the best approach and a stealth mode can allow you to sneak up on an enemy and take them out before they can utilize a shield they may have in hand.

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The game’s crafting system allows you to create and improve equipment, including your armor and weapons. Throughout your journey, you will loot various materials and components hidden in chests or from the corpses of your dead enemies. These are the basic components to craft weapons, armors, traps, ammunition or potions that you will need to progress in the game. Becoming a master craftsman will aid you not only in battling massive bosses, but in taking on larger groups of smaller enemies as well. learn the trade, craft new weapons, and upgrade everything. The dead may tell no tales, but they also have been known to leave useful items on their decaying corpses.

Your tactical menu will allow you to quickly swap between the weapons you have in each slot. This quick menu pops up to the lower left of your screen and is round and easy to use. When popped up, the action slows down to a crawl allowing you enough time to swap out to something more effective, or to maybe drink a health or mana potion depending on your current state of health. The developer was getting his butt handed to him at one point so the health potion came in handy for him.

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The game offers many quests around a primary story arch. Depending on the choices you make and the influence of the demon, some chapters will offer different scenarios and a different experience. Story length is said to be around twenty five hours, but if you want to play through again using a different style, you could easily double that. Battles looked impressive and dynamic as you’re facing huge fearsome creatures: shadow dragons, liches, undead, ice creatures. If the player begins the game knowing only the basics of combat, fire magic, and assassination, he will be able to specialize by unlocking and improving many skills and powers, through 3 different skill trees. Having these skills upgraded will be paramount due to the size and scale of some of the larger creatures we saw.

The game has a good character customization area, allowing you to play as either male or female, and gives you the opportunity to make the character more your own. This will of course have an influence on the demon’s appearance as well as how the characters armor may fit.We were briefly shown some of the armor choices, and the selection was pretty vast, each with their own attributes as far as damage and types of protection given. Keep in mind that the more you use your demonic passenger the more evil your character will look, so two people, playing with an identical character but different play styles, may end up with two totally different looking characters by game end. Interesting system that can give the game quite a bit of replayability, at least in theory.

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Several companions will join the player during the quest, and will, depending on the player’s actions, develop friendship, romance or rivalry. The depth of play is open to a wide var1ety of experiences, all determined by what you decide.

RPG’s are few and far between for next gen gaming this early in its life cycle, so I definitely had my hopes up when I sat down with one of the developers from Spiders Studios and got to see the game in action. It has a beautifully crafted world with graphics worthy of the next gen title and a frame rate that is said to fall between 30 and 60 FPS.. The only thing missing is the lack of online co-op as the game is single player only. While not a deal breaker, it would have been fun to play as a companion to one of your real friends online and be able to enjoy the game with friends.

If you are waiting for an RPG for your PS4, or just want another for your PS3, the wait will be over on May 9th when this game hits the stores. From what we saw, you wont be disappointed.