Bookbound Brigade is a new and unique take on the Metroidvania genre that attempts to build a dream team of fictional characters for a battle against the evil that has plagued this world. The array of well-known characters throughout this adventure makes for some fun and interesting dialogue that attempts to bring more depth to an otherwise forgettable story.
As you first drop into the game you are given complete control over a small collection of characters who all work together as one in an attempt to restore the memory of all these beloved fantasy characters. After a short introduction to the world and why all these characters have been forced into working together you are let loose and what you do next is up to you. The rather basic set of controls are shown to you briefly at the start of the game as you first move through the opening; the simple button mash take on combat quickly becomes stale, but at least it lets you to promptly take out the base enemies that you will encounter.
As for the story, this is where things take a step down, whilst the sheer number of fantasy characters might be appealing to some, we found that it overloaded the game and there is no real development to any of them. You meet someone new, get given a quest from them to find some lost relic and then it repeats. You aren't given much development for these new interactions and it became very easy to actually forget you had even met certain characters until you randomly find an item.
The rest of the story is about you becoming more powerful as a team to eventually unlock all of the lost memories, however, the way they portray this development comes across as dull and lazy. One example of this is Dracula: he forgets he has the ability to double jump, but miraculously after a single piece of dialogue with a random NPC he recalls this ability and now the whole party has double jump ability. The general idea for the game's story development could have been great and there is so much potential, yet the overall execution falls short.
Moving onto the combat, again this is a mechanic that falls short of expectations. Having all these characters from history you would have expected there to be some level of variety within the fighting mechanics as all these characters bring something new. However, they opted for a straight forward approach where all characters attack in unison and there's no real variety to the combat. Every now and again the characters will achieve a combo/critical hit which does more damage and changes the attack marker from white to yellow, but as a whole, the lack of variety makes for a dull experience that we weren't inspired to return to.
It's not all bad news for Bookbound Brigade however, as the hand-drawn art style keeps the game looking great throughout, and the characters are all easily definable and reminiscent of their historical portrayals. The world design is also full of well-drawn backgrounds that add some level of character to the stages that you fight through, and each individual enemy you encounter looks great and fits the world they're a part of.
Overall, Bookbound Brigade falls short and the overall execution of the story just didn't do enough to keep us invested. While our first impression of the game had us thinking that it looked fun and we liked the unique approach of bringing together these historical characters, it just didn't live up to our expectations. The lacklustre narrative wore us out early on, whilst the overly simple combat added no real challenge or intrigue, leaving the end product far below what could have been a great addition to the Metroidvania genre.
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