Game review: Bound is art in motion – and unlike any other game

Bound is a deeply emotional adventure that uses dance moves instead of violence as you journey through a hypnotic and hallucinogenic world

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 August, 2016, 11:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 August, 2016, 11:01am


Plastic Studios

4 stars

The gaming world is a little confused these days and developers are styling their releases in three main ways: the least inspired are concentrating solely on narrative, while the most ambitious are focusing on sheer interactivity. And the third group? They’re the outliers in a sense, artistically minded folks who see beauty in everything and attempt to translate it all into a virtual setting.

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Journey, Abzu, Flower – the industry has been awash lately with visually stunning, slightly surreal adventures, and while it’s easy to immediately put Bound in with that crowd, this would do it almost a disservice. On the surface, the game is about the art of dance; more specifically, it follows a wonderfully time-worn story of a princess being tasked with journeying through a series of labyrinths to kill a monster.

Beyond that, the game is simply rooted in the beauty of the medium’s purest intentions. What does that mean, exactly? It’s hard to say unless you’ve voyaged through the emotional depth of Bound’s fascinatingly hypnotic world, an adventure that reimagines the most basic facets of traditional gameplay and spins them into a poetically sweeping abstraction that only reveals itself near the end.

The game isn’t difficult in any sense – most of the gameplay involves the player doing nothing more than running and jumping across a variety of terrain, while elegant dance moves are substituted for classic forms of attack.

It’s the latter area that truly sets the game apart, even if the moves sometimes become repetitive, and the surreal metaphors that your character spins among the tangled levels make the game look, feel and sound like nothing else before.

Visuals are faithful yet not, a three-dimensional place somewhere between realistic and hallucinogenic; the soundtrack is slow-paced and hauntingly encircling, the perfect complement to all that’s on-screen, and your interactivity, highly dependent on how all that washes over your being.

I’m attempting to wax lyrical here, but Bound captured my attention more than most games have in recent times, a stunningly unique experience that makes a strong case for video games as a form to be reckoned with.

Some might see a game that’s simple and slightly repetitive; I see art in motion.