PSX 2015: Bound Preview – Elegance and Grace

December 11, 2015Written by Stephen Bitto

bound preview

Plastic, the studio behind the underwhelming PlayStation Move title Datura, has teamed up with Sony Santa Monica to provide the PlayStation 4 with a gorgeous, emotional experience in Bound. Although it was only revealed a few days earlier, Plastic’s new game was playable on the show floor of PlayStation Experience. Being intrigued by the cryptic teases from Sony Santa Monica, I gave it a look.

The demo begins with a kingdom in peril. A masked princess is called upon by her queen to send an invading monster away. The seemingly less than original story grows and expands as it becomes a clear metaphor for other more grounded events. Similar to The Unfinished Swan, Bound uses its environment and fantastical setting to tell a story relatable on the human level.

Although possessing a familiar feel, Bound transforms platforming into a visual artform. Controls like running and jumping have been replaced with a graceful flow of ballet steps. I must say that player movement has never looked so elegant.

Elegance in Chaos

The world surrounding the princess is chaotic. The ground trembling at every step. The ocean of pillars below feels angry, disturbed by the intruder destroying the kingdom. What does it all mean?

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The princess navigates the environment by leaping up ladders, spinning across ledges and sliding down ribbons. After a number of basic platforming challenges the antagonistic monster appears. A massive swipe from the beast cuts the princess down, knocking her unconscious. An abstract cutscene offers a glimpse into a family’s home. A chessboard lies on a table where a man and two children sit. Unfortunately, who these characters are and what the events of the demo allude to need the context of the full game for true meaning.

The ballerina princess regains her senses and continues onward. Certain parts of the structures have become toxic. Fighting the swarms back offers a new layer of interaction to the gameplay. Finally, the beast returns once more but before the monster strikes, the demo comes to a close.

Bound has loads of potential combining standard 3D platforming with a beautiful, artistic flow. Using the precision of a ballerina to transverse a disturbed yet stunning world offers an original experience for PlayStation 4 owners. Hopefully, the parallels between this interesting environment and the actors are able to set the stage for a truly moving narrative. Pay close attention. Sometimes in order to move forward, you have to take a step back.