***PlayStation Plus November 2017***
One of this month’s free PlayStation Plus games is a beautiful title called Bound. Granted, this game may be more appealing on PlayStation VR, but I do not have a VR headset. So, my analysis of this game will not include the immersion that will probably be experienced when playing on that medium.
So Bound…. Let’s see, where do I start? It’s a BEAUTIFUL game. And it (sort of?) tackles (more like lightly touches) the subject of growing up in a tumultuous household. You follow two characters: one is a beautiful contemporary dancer traversing a fantastical land while the other is a very pregnant woman walking by herself on a beach. The fantasy land in which your dancer character exists comes from the sketchbook of the pregnant woman.
The gameplay is repetitious. Very repetitious. Each time the pregnant woman opens up her sketchbook whilst strolling on the beach, you are transported to the alternate world to do the same exact thing you did the last time you were there. You twirl, leap and climb to reach the end of the level. That’s it. Once you complete a level, you are transported to a unpleasant childhood memory of the pregnant woman. Then, like clockwork, you’re back on the beach looking at your old sketches. The game’s mechanics aren’t anything to marvel at. You jump from platform to platform; You sidestep on ledges; You twirl to escape the grasp of sinister things that you don’t even know are sinister until you get entangled in them. In order to avoid getting snared any further, you just compulsively twirl and that just severely slows down the already slow gameplay. There is a “run” button, but it isn’t much faster than the beautiful dance step that your character already does. This game also includes a speed run section. There are multiple paths to complete each level but none that enhance the story or give you collectibles. They’re there to help you complete the level as fast as you can because that’s apparently a thing you’d want to do in this game.
You get little bits and pieces of a sad story throughout your playthrough while the metaphorical dance world of the alternate character helps to put together the depressing life of this very pregnant woman. Beyond that, there isn’t much and that left me massively disappointed. The alternate world of the sketches is beautiful but linear. It was wasted potential. I truly wanted to know more about those characters and that strange, yet inventive world more than the woman who conceived it.
The music was inspiring and beautiful. It fit the surroundings of the colorful fantasy land extremely well. The dancer’s movements seemed to be perfectly in line to the music. Between her elegance, the music and the scenery, the game was a very well put together beautiful picture. But that’s all it had going for it.
The game is a beautiful disaster. It is so pretty but not remotely pleasant to play. It’s boring and repetitious and leaves much to be desired. The game is completely left up to your interpretation but I wish there was more information given so that my interpretation wasn’t so vague. I wish the levels varied more and that the little crystals I was collecting actually did something (maybe they did something and I just never figured it out). It’s clear that the developers spent plenty of time and effort on creating the character’s dance moves. She was so lovingly crafted but the rest of the game failed her. I thought this game would be a spiritual successor to Journey, another beautifully crafted game on the PS4 but it turned out to be a vague, boring, beautiful mess of a game.
About the author – Elaine C. Kern:
She is a nerd. That is all.