Bookbound Brigade from Digital Tales USA LLC and Intragames Co Ltd is a charming title with an eye-catching aesthetic. The game is a 2D side-scrolling platformer with a hefty chunk of combat thrown in. Does it do enough to set itself apart from the myriad of other titles out there right now though?
In Bookbound Brigade, players will take on the role of a party of historical characters brought together to form a brigade. The world they inhabit is under threat and it’s up to you and your party of characters to save it. The “Book of Books” or B.O.B has been stolen and this is where you come in. Recovering pages from B.O.B is the goal of the game but it’s not quite as simple as that seems and a perilous journey awaits.
Gameplay in Bookbound Brigade is a mixture of button bashing combat and puzzle platforming. Players will control the brigade, a group of historical characters clumped together to form a square block of sorts. You will move your entire brigade around in this block formation and later on in the game gain the ability to change formation. All of this is fine and dandy right up until the game starts throwing deadly objects and obstacles into your way. This is when things go completely haywire thanks to the fact that your brigade doesn’t react uniformly.
Bookbound Brigade suffers from some uneven difficulty. Certain areas of levels will be a breeze to get through while other areas will have you wanting to throw your controller across the room in frustration. It doesn’t help that changing formation is a bit of a cumbersome process and can’t be done immediately on the fly. It’s just not as responsive as it should be and the game suffers because of this.
For example, early on in the game you’ll get the opportunity to stack your characters on top of each other to form a column. The column of characters however will sway if you move slightly too fast and it can collapse. The game then decides to throw in fire traps at this point – They are flame jets that can immediately kill you and send you back quite a hefty distance if so much as one character even touches their hitbox. It is an infuriating experience dying repeatedly to the same trap over and over and over again thanks to the uneven movement. When there’s a significant portion of a level dedicated to traps and hazards, this is when you’ll have to make a choice to either slog on through the frustration or just throw in the towel and ragequit the game.
Combat in Bookbound Brigade also suffers from a lack of depth. You play as a group of historical characters and you do gain more abilities later on in the game but for the most part, there is far too much button bashing involved. Hammering the attack button while fighting waves of enemies might be fun for a little while but eventually it will start to annoy you due to the lack of variation. Couple this with bosses which tend to suck up immense amounts of damage and the frustration only increases further.
The game’s aesthetic is incredibly beautiful though. 2D backgrounds and environments having an eye-catching look that immediately draws you in. The character designs are great and fit in with historic descriptions too since they are easily recognisable. Enemy units also look great and there’s a lot of variation in their designs. The soundtrack of Bookbound Brigade features 22 tracks and quite a few of them are memorable. There is no real voice acting apart from the Narrator but the game doesn’t really suffer from this fact much.
There is however a severe lack of direction in the game with not enough guidance as to where to go and what to do. Players will just wander around a level and hope for the best. This is unfortunate because the game’s aesthetic is so great but there’s so much wasted potential for storytelling here. The map you have access to is not that detailed either so there’ll be a lot of backtracking through levels just trying to figure out where you should be going. Circling back to the story, Bookbound Brigade tends to make historical reference jokes but most of the time these are repeated too often and it comes across as trying way too hard. Ultimately, the opportunities presented by the overarching plot are squandered.
Overall, Bookbound Brigade is a mediocre attempt at 2D puzzle platforming “Metroidvania”. The game’s aesthetic might be gorgeous but the glaring problems with direction and frustrating gameplay ruin the entire experience. There is fun to be had but the game definitely needed more work to refine it into an enjoyable experience throughout.
The game is also available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One from Developers Digital Tales USA LLC, Digital Tales S.r.l.and Publishers Intragames, Digital Tales S.r.l.
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Bookbound Brigade is a new take on the established Metroidvania genre where classic stories and well-known characters get the video game treatment, and where the player gets to lead a colorful bunch of real and fictional heroes through a 2D side-scrolling platform-adventure in a quest to battle overwhelming hordes of monsters and bring order back to the literary world.
Product Currency: GBP
Product Price: 17.99