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Bound By Flame: what is the true price of ultimate power?

Thursday, 3 April 2014 08:38 GMT By Dave Cook

Bound by Flame is the new morally-charged RPG from Mars: War Logs studio Spiders. Dave Cook talks with project manager Walid Miled about how the thirst for power can irreparably corrupt even the noblest of warriors.

Bound_by_flame

”The moral slant is made more intriguing given that the player’s demonic partner isn’t actually evil. Its motivation is a mystery. The team were keen to avoid making this a choice between good and evil, but to keep things more ambiguous so that vital decisions would be less clear-cut.”

There are a lot of games that offer a degree of moral freedom. In the road to launch, we often hear a lot of hollow promises that players will face excruciating choices with far-reaching, profound ramifications, but in reality the bulk of these titles offer binary decisions with clear-cut outcomes.

It’s challenging to write and then develop a game that really nails the crushing duress that comes with a genuinely taxing conundrum, or those that reward moral inclination with tangible change within the world-state.

Fallout, The Walking Dead and Mass Effect are just a few series that go above and beyond the glut of transparent ‘good choice, bad choice’ games out there, but the point is that developers are certainly getting better at putting us on the spot, kicking us out of our comfort zones and watching us squirm as we stare down narrative junction points with no visible result in sight. We often make a call and soldier onward in the hope that our choice won’t come back to bite us further on into the tale.

That’s powerful from a story-telling perspective. Creators have recognised this and over the last ten years have become quite fiendish in the way they work morality into their games, and are now designing titles to give gamers a heightened degree of plot ownership. More than ever before we, the players, are the story-creators in essence, and that is a level of interaction and immersion other mediums simply cannot deliver. There are more developers using the interactivity of games in such a manner, and Bound by Flame team Spiders Studio is one of them.

Launching May 9, Bound by Flame is a new action-RPG set in the land of Vertiel; a dark realm that is being smothered by a wave of misery and death caused by the murderous Lords of Ice. After an ancient ritual goes horribly wrong, your hero becomes bound to a demonic spirit that tempts the player with god-like abilities at every juncture. While this power may help bring a degree of peace to the decaying world, the true price is your humanity. Just how far are you willing to sacrifice your very being? That’s the question Spiders want you to pain yourself over while playing.

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”Similar to BioWare’s morally-charged Dragon Age and Mass Effect series, Spiders is working romance options into its RPG. The story itself will be both dark and mature in keeping with its harrowing setting.”

As you submit yourself to the entity your human appearance will give way to a monstrous veneer, and that’s when people around Vertiel and your companions will start to question who you are.

While speaking with project manager Walid Miled over Skype I was told that your fellow adventurers can leave at various points in the quest if they feel they can no longer trust you, and there’s also the risk of locking out sections of the plot altogether depending on your inclination. It sounds like a deeper format than your average binary experience.

“It was part of the core at the start,” Miled says of the moral system,” different endings, companions… how they react, how the quests lock and how other quests open. We had to go through all of this and make sure that the player gets a different feeling depending on the choices in the story, gameplay-wise, and so that the character really evolves visually. This has a real impact on the gameplay, so yeah it was really a core part of the game.”

The moral slant is made more intriguing given that the player’s demonic partner isn’t actually evil. Its motivation is a mystery. Miled and his team were keen to avoid making this a choice between good and evil, but to keep things more ambiguous so that vital decisions would be less clear-cut. Short-term advantages such as unlocking new combat options across the game’s three XP-based skill trees may sound tempting, but refusing to submit to the entity will have its own benefits as well. In the end you will end on one of three endings denoting human, demonic and neutral leanings.

“We encourage repeat play in many different ways, ” Miled goes on. “There’s the gameplay first, because you can really specialise your character’s… I could say class, but there are no classes in the game. It’s more about your skill tree because you have two fighting styles, so we encourage repeat play in the gameplay and fighting, but also choosing demon or human will make some characters stay and others leave, then there’s all those different endings. When the player starts over they can have a totally renewed experience.”

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5 Comments

  1. Luciferous

    Depending on how well this controls Spiders may finally have a good game on their hands.

    Or Orcs and Men was an interesting set up – but it controlled like arse.

    #1 11 months ago
  2. Mike W

    It sounds interesting that’s for sure. The looks of it look a little outdated, but whatever.

    #2 11 months ago
  3. YoungZer0

    Sold. I liked Spiders last game Mars: War Logs. The combat was great fun, the story and world interesting and I really enjoyed their art-direction. It feels so different, so freshing from what we know from western and eastern devs. I really like it.

    I already thought that Mars: Wars Logs was a solid game, especially after the huge patch. A little hidden gem that people who enjoyed the Witcher games definitely should try. It sounds like they pushed themselves further here. I think they really have a lot of potential.

    So definitely going to get it when it comes out in May-

    Thanks Dave.

    #3 11 months ago
  4. TheWulf

    I’ve been following this one since it was initially mentioned, back before they started making comparisons to BioWare games to bring in the crowds. Back before they even had screenshots. The very basis of it intrigues me as a plot, and it keys off of other, similar experiences such as Drakengard. I’m very keen to try this out, but how well it’ll do will all come down to how well written the demon character is.

    If they can get that, though, then even if the game is sub par, then I’ll tolerate it as I often do. This just sounds like they’re doing something interesting with fantasy, going against the old tropes, much as they did with Orcs and Men. That’s something that I actually like, and always have done.

    So, I’m cautiously optimistic about this.

    #4 11 months ago
  5. ij 44

    All the words mean nothing once you have seen a video of the game – the problem is that the player character is almost constantly on fire – supposed to be a ‘feature’ but it looks annoying as fuck..

    What use are bullshit video game reviewers if they can’t tell a developer that they’ve got a total enjoyment breaking design in a game – the writer must have seen the fucking game running right.?

    Game out in May – it’s too late to fix it.

    This is the fundamental problem with internet game review sites – the writers just suck up what they’re given, and don’t look critically at the games they’re supposed to be previewing.

    It’s not difficult to miss – you can’t play the game for more than 2 minutes without getting seriously annoyed with the guy being constantly on fucking fire which you can’t put out. Fire effect isn’t even that good.. WTF.

    #5 11 months ago

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    Microsoft has provided more details on Cross-Buy functionality between Windows 10 and Xbox One as well as the Xbox Live SKU and other announcements made during Phil Spencer’s talk today. During the session, the head of Xbox shared “the next step” in the company’s plans for a unified platform across all Windows 10 devices which […]

  • Wasteland 2 is coming to PlayStation 4 this summer

    Wasteland 2 is coming to PlayStation 4 as a Game of the Year Edition. inXile Entertainment announced the news on the PS Blog, noting the edition contains enhancements and improvements. The game has been ported to Unity 5, which was announced over the weekend, providing upgraded visual effects, “improved character models, upgraded environments, and Unity […]

  • Cross-Buy detailed for Windows 10 and Xbox One; Elite: Dangerous coming to Xbox One

    During Xbox boss Phil Spencer’s session at GDC 2015 today, it was announced Elite: Dangerous would release on Xbox One. Spencer also outlined cross-buy functionality across Windows 10 and Xbox One. Spencer’s talk started off with Frontier Developments announcing Elite: Dangerous for release this summer as a console debut on Xbox One, suggesting the Elite: […]

  • Longbeards Culture Pack available now for Total War: Attila

    The Longbeards Culture Pack is now available for Total War: Attila and it comes with three new playable factions. The Langobards, the Burgundians and the Alamans can be played in both single and multiplayer campaign modes as well as custom and multiplayer battles. A new feature called The Lay of Ybor is also included. It […]

  • Nvidia unveils Titan X as world’s “most advanced GPU” – video

    Nvidia revealed Titan X as “the world’s most advanced GPU” during Epic founder Tim Sweeney’s State of Unreal session a t GDC 2015 today. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang took the stage during the panel stating it contains “8 billion transistors,” and has 12GB of RAM. Pricing wasn’t announced, but it was rumored back in January […]

  • Steam sale discounts titles announced for SteamOS

    With many of the year’s most popular games heading to SteamOS, Valve has decided to host sale in celebration. Here’s a short list of titles on sale. The full list of PC, Linux, Mac and SteamOS discounts can be found through the link. The Banner Saga Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Batman: Arkham […]

  • PayDay 2 announced for SteamOS, celebrating with franchise sale

    PayDay 2 is coming to SteamOS, Overkill has announced. Still under development, a release date will be announced at a later date. “Making sure PAYDAY 2 is available on SteamOS felt like a no-brainer,” said Bo Andersson Klint, CEO of Starbreeze in the press release. “With PAYDAY 2: Crimewave Edition coming to the next generation […]

  • Magicka 2 has a release date and a crazy new trailer

    Magicka 2 has a release date for PC and the PlayStation 4, and Paradox Interactive has released a trailer featuring “Vlad’s latest lyrical triumph,” which is his rendition of the Game of Thrones theme. Magicka arrived on PC and PS4 May 26 and the game can be pre-ordered on PC beginning today, with PS4 pre-orders […]

  • Nintendo eShop schedule: Don’t Starve: Giant Edition, Never Alone, others

    Nintendo has sent over a list of titles heading to the eShop in 2015. The schedule contains titles such as Affordable Space Adventures, Runbow, Swords & Soldiers 2, Don’t Starve: Giant Edition, Never Alone and Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars. Below a preliminary list of games scheduled to launch in the Nintendo eShop on […]

  • Week 8: Can you win the weekly VG247 GTA Online playlist? Play tonight at 8pm UK time!

    We’re hotdogging tonight. I don’t even know what that means. Eight weeks of ridiculous death. Such a brave, true milestone. We’re going to celebrate two entire months of playing weekly GTA Online playlists with VG247 readers with Hotdogging, a set of six jobs I named completely at random. This one ends with a straight-up border […]

  • Puzzle platformer Four Sided Fantasy coming to PC, consoles in early 2016

    Curve Digital and developer Logan Fieth’s studio Ludo Land are bringing puzzle platformer, Four Sided Fantasy, to PC all major consoles in early 2016. Ludo Land are developing the PC version, with Curve Digital handling the console and Vita versions. Four Sided Fantasy tasks players with venturing across “dreamlike levels” by controlling and manipulating the […]

  • Tropico 5 arrives on PS4 in April – video

    A release date for Tropico 5 on PlayStation 4 has been announced. This is the franchise’s first foray onto PlayStation consoles. It arrived in Europe on April 24 and in North America on April 28. A Limited Edition has also been announced, and it includes The Big Cheese DLC and the Bayo Del Olfato sandbox […]

  • Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain Limited Edition PS4 releasing in Asia

    A limited edition Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain PlayStation 4 system will be released in Asia. The system and its DualShock controller were designed in collaboration with Konami Digital Entertainment and targeted for the Asia region, per Gematsu. It will be released as part of PS4 Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain […]

  • This video shows Sid Meier’s Starships being played on iPad

    Sid Meier’s Starships will be released on iPad alongside Mac and PC, and to give you an idea on how it plays on the tablet, a new video has been released. Watch below as Pete Murray and lead producer Stuart Zissu show off the iPad version. The 4X space-strategy releases on March 12.

  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood announced as standalone prequel to Wolfenstein: The New Order

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, a standalone prequel to The New Order, will release May 5 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. The game takes pace in 1946, and and players take on the role of B.J. Blazkowicz as he embarks on a two-part mission in Bavaria. Part one, Rudi Jäger and the Den of Wolves, […]

  • Observer Mode coming soon to Evolve as a free update

    Observer Mode will be released for Evolve as a free update for all platforms, 2K and Turtle Rock have announced. The community feature was designed to give Evolve players the ability to observe and add commentary as well as livestream, allowing a sixth user to “passively enter a custom game” with the ability to switch […]

  • Dragon Quest Heroes and PS4 top Media Create charts in Japan

    The PlayStation 3 and PS4 skus for Dragon Quest Heroes were the top sellers on the Media Create charts in Japan, moving a combined 594,749 units. Elsewhere on the chart, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D was in third place with 39,751 units moved, and last week’s top seller, God Eater 2: Rage Burst, […]

  • Watch Hideo Kojima answer lots of your burning Phantom Pain questions

    What’s better than learning the official release date of MGS5: The Phantom pain? Hideo Kojima talking more about it, of course! Hideo Kojima has decided to answer a few fan questions about Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, to help boost everyone’s hype to insane levels. He talks about the game’s story, his relief […]

  • MGS5: The Phantom Pain Day 1 and Collector’s Edition revealed

    Konami has officially revealed the release date of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain alongside the game’s Day 1 and Collector’s Edition. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain will release September 1, worldwide, as previously leaked. It will be available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. The PC Steam […]

  • EU Club Nintendo: Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds soundtrack back in stock

    Club Nintendo members in Europe can once again pick up The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds soundtrack. For 3000 Stars, members of the program will receive the double-CD soundtrack which features 89 tracks with liner notes from Ryo Nagamatsu and 12 sheet music excerpts. It also comes with 16 Milk Bar Musician pieces. […]

  • HTC apologises over “confusing” Half-Life VR comments

    HTC has misspoke when it talked about Half-Life coming to VR headset Vive. HTC chairwoman Cher Wang has apologised over the comments she made yesterday about the possibility of Half-Life coming to Vive, the VR headset it’s manufacturing with the help of Valve. Sources close to Valve, have indicated to the BBC that the developer […]

  • What do Heists and Daily Objectives tell us about the future of GTA Online?

    Daily Objectives could be more important to GTA Online than Heists. These theories and more, from a giddy Matt Martin. Yesterday Rockstar dropped a bombshell. Not only is it releasing Heists next week – the mythical 4-player missions for GTA Online – but it’s also going to be introducing daily challenges and more modes to […]

  • Breaking down Hardline Premium, is it worth it?

    Having been announced just a few days ago, the Premium service for Battlefield Hardline has been a topic of constant debate among the Battlefield community. Many look at Hardline as a Battlefield off-shoot that will just tide everyone over until Battlefront comes out in the fall. EA has other plans however, announcing a $50 Premium […]

  • Watch Dogs sold more than GTA 5 and FIFA 15 in Australia in 2014

    Watch Dogs outsold GTA 5, and FIFA 15, at retail in Australia last year. According to data obtained by the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA) from the NPD Group Australia, last year’s year retail sales charts look a bit different in Australia. The top-selling game was Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, followed by Watch […]