Bound By Blades is an upcoming action RPG both developed and published by Zeth. At the time of writing this game is currently in an active Kickstarter campaign with a playable demo available. A link to the Kickstarter campaign will be provided at the bottom of the review.
Set in the magical land of Ashmyr, a fantastical place populated with humanoid animals. The natural beauty of the landscape though is not as serene as you may believe. Horrible monsters known as Ilcyon have invaded the lands, desperate to wrest control for themselves. Your goal is simple, drive out the Ilcyon by any means possible. As a fantasy action RPG, those means, of course, will be epic battles and a ton of grinding. Ashmyr will be cleansed in the blood of the Ilcyon (and literally any other parts of them that can be used to craft items).
As mentioned, Bound By Blades is an action RPG. However, unlike most action RPG’s your character does not have free range during battle. Each battle will pit you again an Ilcyon or group of Ilcyon on a single screen. This screen will be comprised of four corner symbols connected by lines, forming a sort of frame around the battle. In the middle of the frame will be the Ilcyon. On the outside of the frame? That’s your realm, you can run around the edges of the map and launch attacks from any of the corner locations, changing between them to avoid attacks and gain strategic advantages.
Enemies will launch all sorts of attacks at you. The trick to battle is to learn the enemy’s moves and how to counter or avoid them. As you select the Ilcyon you will face from a list there are few surprises once you’ve fought them the first time. From then on it’s just learning their patterns and getting stronger to beat them as efficiently as possible.
Make and upgrade equipment to get stronger. Between battle, you will have the option to craft new equipment if you have enough of the items required. Crafting items are received from defeated Ilcyon so you’ll most likely run the same Ilcyon a few times. The other option is upgrading items, this is done via the shame store, but by using items that can be harvested in town. The harvestable items respawn between battles, and you will also need currency so either way, you’ll be running Ilcyon battles to improve.
I love the art style of the game, everything from the color palette to the actual character and Ilcyon designs. The game is bright and cheerful but the colors are still somewhat muted which gives the game a more relaxed feel than a hyper colored out of control game. The Ilcyon I fought were drastically different in design, a scarecrow, a blob with a skull and bones it hucks at you and a sharp-toothed bat type creature that creates eyeball bats to compensate for its lack of vision.
The attack effects are also varied and interesting, from laser beams and fireballs to the aforementioned thrown bones. The lack of blood and real violence means this game would be fun for kids to watch and play as well. The only thing visually that is a small issue for me is that sword attacks from the corner of the screen hit the enemy in the middle even when they logically shouldn’t, but this is kind of a staple in RPG’s going back to the early days of things like Final Fantasy so it’s more than forgivable, I just enjoy seeing a sword shoot out an airblade so I get that satisfaction of seeing something connect.
The music is great. It is appropriate for the fantasy world. It sounds good and there is variety between the town and battles. The music creates a variety of moods which is what a good soundtrack does.
The sound effects are similarly satisfying, although quite barebones currently. A lot of swipes, clangs and other standard noises that you’d expect to hear. There is no voice acting in the demo, and I can’t see any indication that is going to change. This isn’t a problem for me at all, the game is more focused on gameplay than story anyway.
Seeing as the game is currently only a demo, it’s hard to judge right now. I thoroughly enjoyed everything I experienced in my time with it. There are also an interesting co-op option and a pet system that I have not seen. They are also working toward ten bosses, probably with more to come later if the game does well. The developer’s main inspiration is the Monster Hunter series but have created a wholly different monster here. I for one am looking forward to the full game if they achieve their goal and can live up to the potential shown in this demo.
Title: Bound By Blades
Release Date: TBA (currently running a Kickstarter campaign)