A Moving Performance
Developed by Santa Monica Studios and Plastic Studios, Bound creates a unique experience. In the trailers alone, it shows the dance movements and the geometric art style along with the vibrant colors. These were the elements that drew me into Bound. Still, the game had more than I expected.
The images you probably saw in the advertising was of the young main character with no known name. In the vibrant world, she will move and dance through the levels. But that isn’t how the game starts. A red car will pull up, and a pregnant woman will step out and move onto a beach. At that point, I was wondering if the PSN had downloaded the wrong game. But this is it. Those images and that fantasy type world actually come from the mind of this woman. And the story of the game is representative of her own childhood. As you progress, the story will unfold. It is not a story that is told but shown.
This make sense, as the game does wonders with its visuals for the most part. The movements and dance, the vibrant colors and shifting world are all impressive. I’ve taken many screen of this game. But the portions where you are with the women do not hold the same stunning captivity of the main gameplay areas. The portion of time with her is short, but when knowing that all the main game is a fantasy recreation of her childhood, it feels like more attention could have been given to her.
I had some issues with the controls and levels. Those fluid dance movements that were one of the main attractions of this game don’t play as much as they potentially could have. The main character does always have a flourish of dance like movements, even in walking. But those moves and intricate portions with ribbon really are only needed to act as a barrier to get through obstacles. Using it other places just hinders movement as it slows the speed of progression despite their visual appeal.
For the levels, they all are very unique even if the obstacles are relatively the same. They have a unique feel and order that keep them from feeling repetitive. Unfortunately, my biggest gripe is with the platforming in the levels. There are some areas with more than one path to take. It was one area that I almost was stuck on with the only option to be starting a new game. I had gone across the platforms well enough, but I could not reach the 5th one. After multiple attempts failing to cross, I gave up and decided to back track. Even backtracking seemed impossible for a bit, and with no way to restart just the level, I might have needed to start a new game.
This also becomes an issue when trying to collect the shards in the game. Shards are geometric blocks that can be gathered, and some require going off the easier path. But even when I try to take some of the more difficult routes, it becomes an impossible feat. The space is too far to cross. And even during regular jumps, I’ve encountered the platform disappearing and then falling right through. Luckily, my complaints on twitter reached the eyes of the developers, and they are aware. They mentioned that a level restart, at least, should be included in a coming patch. So these small hindrances in gameplay are probably going to be fixed within the coming weeks or months.
My overall thoughts fall on this game being a visual experience. The segments with the pregnant woman are not as horrible as I initially suggested. It just doesn’t hold up as well in comparison to the main portion of the game. The stylized look is stunning and interesting visually. Even with the issues of the levels and controls, Bound uses the unique movements to make it more compelling and engaging. The story is emotional and deep. The lack of narration used to tell the story makes it even better. It gives enough context that players can learn for themselves the purpose and meaning of the story being told.