Indie games are continuing to make their mark in the gaming industry. Perhaps it’s their simplicity or perhaps it’s their knack for hitting us right in the feels as their metaphorical narration hits us. Either way, they make for some great games.
Developed by Plastic Studios and published by Santa Monica Studio, it’s difficult to create a blurb when there isn’t really one. As described by Michel Staniszewski, Creative Director at Plastic, “instead of telling you the story, Bound invites you to explore it and discover at your own individual pace” (x). As someone who has completed the game, I can reveal that this process surprisingly works well, and I most certainly recommend taking your own journey with Bound.
Bound is incredibly fluid thanks to its use of dance and choreography throughout the entire game. I became fascinated with the way the character moved in the space from the get go and appreciated the unique way to move around in a game. Even if one failed to make a jump or navigate the course correctly, the character ‘awoke’ from death in the most graceful way I’ve seen, if one can even say that. Even in death, there was beauty. It almost established a game where death, in the surrealist world didn’t matter because in reality it wasn’t real as the player learns through the contrasted real-world beach sequences and flashbacks.
Talking of the real-world, Bound’s trailer chooses to focus solely on its surreal world, opting not to reveal any ounce of its story and narrative. When the game started I wasn’t expecting to find myself on a beach, controlling a pregnant woman which lead my thoughts to wander with curiosity. Such moments were scattered throughout the game like chapters and by the end of the game, left the player with somewhat of an understanding to the game’s purpose. I for one, was absorbed by the integration of narration through both worlds and became more and more connected to the story as it went on.
Saying this, each ‘chapter’ as I’ve come to call it, follows the same, if not very similar, structure and ‘skeleton’. In spite of maps variations, this process may become too repetitive or frustrating to a gamer looking for a challenge. In regard to this though, I wouldn’t categorize Bound as a sole puzzle game. Sure, it’s not as easy as walking from point A to B to C and there are over 120 ways to complete the game as you navigate it, but Bound is an experience and asks you to do just that, experience it. It may be noted that Bound is also PlayStation VR compatible.
Bound features stunning colours, lighting and abstract graphic design that no doubt reflects the overall meaning or expression of the game. Because of this, Bound’s aesthetic is pleasing to the eye in its own unique way. Some of my favourite moments came when the environment would adjust to the character’s movements or the light would shift, prompting me to take screenshots to capture the moment. I’ve also come to the conclusion that my favourite dance move is when the character slides along a ribbon-like object as if ice skating.
Sure we all like a good multiplayer or RPG, but we also like our minds to be challenged metaphorically, emotionally or perhaps even spiritually. Albeit a short game, players can still form an emotional connection between the character and story, possibly even finding themselves within the character.
- Creative use of character movement
- Unique way to tell a story
- Stunning and unique graphic design
- Chapters may feel repetitive to some
- Lack of action may bore some players