I've decided that I like Bound By Flame. It's won me over by virtue of its clunkily-gruelling, Dark Souls-lite combat system, its rich and varied approach to crafting, its plethora of throwaway one liners and non-sequiturs, and by generally being a little bit bonkers. For every mechanical misstep, jagged pixel, or dreadfully uttered line of dialogue, there are moments when the sheer force of the game's accidental B-movie personality just sticks a smile on my face.
But that doesn't make it a good game.
You play Vulcan, the powder master for a band of badass mercenaries known as the Freeborn Blades. Pleasantly, you can opt to be either male or female, but the customisation options beyond that are hilariously limited to six heads or so apiece. To the game's credit, you can actually rename your character, but it's completely pointless as the game and all of its characters will still call you Vulcan.
A war has ravaged the land of Vertiel, with seven Ice Lords invading from the North (it's always from The North) and sweeping all before them with an army of undead warriors and monstrous generals. The Freeborn Blades have been hired by a group of magicians known as the Red Scribes who seek to tap into the source of the world's power -- the Worldheart -- and seek a way of vanquishing the Deathwalker army that has never lost a battle. Unfortunately, the Deathwalkers show up at the time of the ritual, everything goes tits up, and though the Red Scribes end up summoning something, it breaks free of their enchantment and seeks out the nearest available host... which would be you.
And so it is, half-possessed by a demon, that Vulcan sets out to "purify" the Worldheart and bring peace once more to Vertiel.Click here to read more...
With the review coming later today, here's a look at the opening half hour from Spiders' new middle-tier RPG, Bound By Flame.
Focus and Spiders will no doubt be pleased with the level of hype that the game has garnered, far more than studio's last release -- Mars: War Logs -- ever received. But much of that is down to there being something of a hungering for a decent fantastical RPG. Taking cues most prominently from The Witcher and Dark Souls, Bound By Flame is arriving just in time to fill a gap, and deliver a timesink that we can use to fritter away the days until Watch Dogs finally releases.
It's worth noting that it's a decidedly last-gen game when it comes to the PS4 and PC version. It can go from looking moderately pretty one minute to downright ugly the next, and its appearance on PS4 is more of a courtesy than anything else. Don't expect it to blow your retinas out with eye-bulging beauty.
It's a clunky beast, with lots of little quirks, terrible voice acting and one or two odd bugs here and there, but it has a kind of goofy charm to it, and some of the one-liners are actually pretty funny. I'll go into more detail about the various aspects to the game in the review, but for now here are the opening scenes to Bound By Flame.
It's the gaming equivalent of a rather worthy B-movie.
Platforms: PC | PS3 | Xbox 360 | PS4
Publishers: Focus Home Interactive
You have to admire Spiders' ambitions. They're a small team who want to make big games. Really big games. We're not talking shooters that you can rattle through in a matter of hours; we're talking RPGs with branching storylines, loads of customisation options, a decent story, optional companions, and an engaging combat system. These things don't come cheap, and the amount of effort it takes to craft a 20-25 hour RPG is intimidating.
That's what Bound By Flame is: a fully-fledged, high fantasy RPG on a budget that's a mere fraction of the likes enjoyed by Bethesda's and EA's studios. Made by a team more famous for porting The Testament of Sherlock Holmes to consoles than perhaps for their first stab at a truly expansive title in Mars: War Logs.
At least, that's the idea.
But Spiders are building up the time for their game at a good time. There's a dearth of fantastical Western RPGs right now, and if they can get Bound By Flame out ahead of the likes of The Witcher 3 and Dragon Age: Inquisition, it is to be hoped that the gap in the market might do them some favours. With a while yet to wait until the coming big-hitters make their retail appearances, it's not surprising that Bound By Flame is getting a fair bit of attention, and rightly so.Click here to read more...
Spiders, the studio behind numerous Focus Home ports and last year's Mars: War Logs, are back with another mid-range RPG this year, setting out to try and prove once again that you can make a fully-fledged RPG with branching narratives, loads of customisation, loot, and character paths, for less than the usual multi-million dollar bill racked up by triple-A studios.
Mars: War Logs was a valiant effort, certainly, but it was riddled with issues and most agreed that whilst it was a game with a good grounding in the fundamentals of a good RPG, it was certainly lacking in the spit and the polish that a larger budget might have bestowed upon the game. Ambitious, yes; but ultimately hugely flawed.
Still, much of that can be attributed to it being Spiders' first real crack of the whip. Bound By Flame sees the studio returning with a different focus, a different setting and tone, and wearing its inspirations on its sleeve.Click here to read more...
Sci-Fi RPG Mars: War Logs releases today on PC, and Focus Home Interactive have naturally loosed a cinematic launch trailer to show off the dystopian setting. Matt emerged from some recent contact time with mixed feelings, which you can read up on in our Mars: War Logs hands-on preview.Click here to read more...
Unconvinced by Mars: War Logs thus far? Well this video probabbly won't change your mind, but it does go some way to detailing the scale of Spiders' ambitions with this game, charting the downloadable, sci-fi RPG's development from inception through to a nearly finished product.
The game is out next month on PSN and XBLA. Read our hands-on preview here.
Focus Home Interactive have beamed over a handful of new screenshots for Mars: War Logs. The pics themselves look rather impressive but we're going to be remaining staunchly reserved with our judgements until the full game arrives, as it was something of a mixed bag to preview. Spiders' ambitions are admirable indeed, but whether or not they can pull off a high-quality, sufficiently-deep RPG experience on an XBLA/PSN budget remains to be seen.Click here to read more...
Platforms: PC | XBLA | PSN
Developers: Spiders Games
Publishers: Focus Home Interactive
The digital marketplaces are growing every day, offering deeper, richer, more compelling experiences than ever before, and fleshing out their offerings to include far more than retro throwbacks, re-releases, and arcade-tinged fun-fests. With the middle ground shrinking faster than ever, and double-A setups forced to look to avenues other than traditional retail, these digital platforms - with their variable price points and convenient routes to audiences - are the ones that benefit.
So it is that the idea of a fully-fledged, RPG, replete with 3D real-time gameplay, dialogue choices, variable companions, a relatively rich crafting system, side quests, and an expansive skill tree cropping up on such platforms maybe isn't quite as farfetched as it used to be.
Of course, that's not really saying much. It still sounds wildly ambitious, almost too good to be true. The fact is that we've seen precious few games such as that outside of a rather niche PC existence. Dungeon crawlers can work, as can well-paced narrative vignettes, and there's no doubt that we're seeing bigger and better games hitting the digital services; but we're talking about role-playing games here. A truly expansive, Western RPG on XBLA and the PSN? Some might scoff at the perceived impossibility of such a thing.
The folks at Spiders clearly like a challenge, because Mars: War Logs is a game that seems specifically designed to render the impossible possible.Click here to read more...
Spiders Games-developed RPG Mars: War Logs has gotten a new bevy of in-game images, this time focusing on some of the more exciting visual elements we'll spy amongst the rusty sand and slum city grime.
Mars: War Logs will launch on PSN, Xbox LIVE and PC this Spring, telling the story of a struggling colony in the grip of a repressive government and terrifying indigenous creatures.Click here to read more...
Spiders Studio has released a new trailer for Mars: War Logs, the upcoming Cyberpunk RPG set on the red planet. Assuming the role of colonist Roy Temperance, players will battle for control of water resources and explore the sprawling slum cities that dominate the ruined surface.
It's also "Guaranteed 100% Dubstep-Free," which is nice. Look out for Mars: War Logs in 2013 on PC, Xbox Live and PSN.Click here to read more...
Cyberpunk RPG Mars: War Logs (not to be confused with CD Projekt's RPG Cyberpunk) has gotten its first clutch of screenshots, showing off some of the environments and enemies players will encounter on the mysterious red planet.Click here to read more...
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Focus Home Interactive has announced a new RPG entitled Mars: War Logs. Featuring "a wide variety of quests, tactical dynamic combat, extensive character specialization through different skill trees and a complete craft system," this Spiders-developed project is slated to launch on PC, PSN and Xbox Live. We've got an announcement trailer below.
Cyanide Studios have a few projects on the go at the moment, what with the anticipated Game Of Thrones RPG in the pipeline. However, they've released some new screenshots for Of Orcs And Men: their "grand RPG" that will let players conquer the world from the perspective of the greenskin races. The bespoke graphics engine is looking rather impressive, and a pleasing variety of different environments should help the project to stand out.
Of Orcs And Men is slated for the "second half of 2012" on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.
Cyanide Entertainment and Spiders Games have released some new screenshots to show off their upcoming RTS collaboration. Of Orcs And Men promises to flip the genre on its head, casting players as Orks and Goblins fighting against persecution and enslavement at the hands of the human empire. Expect all manner of bloodthirsty slaughter from the Orcs and underhanded, devious chicanery from their smaller brethren set across a (you guessed it) dark fantasy continent. We've got the new screens and some more details below.Click here to read more...