Originally posted on Vox Ludicus..never. This was never released by them. At this point they didn’t like the fact that I was being honest with my feelings towards game, and were worried that I would prevent them from getting keys in the future. They were also not happy with me pointing out I got review codes (which is a law in the US and the other writers are not from the US so are unfamiliar with the law here). So this is the first time this will be seen. And you can see why, I was clearly not in a great place at the time. This was written back at the end of July in 2016 and honestly, I am only posting it because I feel that it deserves its chance to show how I felt back then, 2 years ago. Please keep in mind this is NOT my normal style. You can check out all my other Reviews if you want proof of that.
I think this is going to be my last review for Vox Ludicus, at least for a while. I keep running into games that everyone and their brother heaps praise on, over and over, and yet when I get to them I cannot get into them and cannot enjoy them.
I feel I need to spend some time away and reevaluate what kinds of games I may like, and dislike. This is not goodbye forever, just a little break for me.
If you have not guessed, today I am talking about the Strategy RPG Bastard Bonds, and no, I am not a fan of it. I am sure its a fine game for plenty of people but for me, it commits a few sins that are deal breakers for me.
Lets get into it.
Visually this game is stunning with wonderfully detailed pixel graphics. It reminds me of really detailed SNES games, and its astonishing what they were able to do with their levels and artwork. However, the actual sprites are not animated seemingly at all, and only ever face forward. When moving on the map the sprites for the units jump space to space almost like a board game, and while I got used to it, its still very odd given how detailed everything is.
Character creation is also detailed, with you basically being able to design a character to look any way you want almost. Be aware, there is nudity in this game, with pixel tits and pixel dicks. No joke. Its the strangest thing and I am unsure why it was even included. I mean, its detailed. Weirdly detailed.
I cannot recall a single piece of music from this game. I cannot recall much in the way of sound effects. Everything was so average as to be unmemorable.
There is a story here, and its got deep connections to choice made during character creation. Like many RPGs you start life as a criminal, however unlike many you actually start during you trial. You choose your name, your looks, and even what Crime you committed and whether or not you are innocent or guilty. Your choices also effect how people in the game view you, and what character comes to let you out of your cell.
From there you are dropped off on a prison island where the game takes place, and the general goal is to get off the island. Thats as far as I got, because unfortunately the gameplay was…not interesting to me. In fact, lets get right into that as this is were my biggest issues lie.
You can fail the tutorial and have to start from square one. The game does not warn of this. The game simply allows you to cause things to become unwinnable and leave you stranded, forcing you to start over from square one. Some folks might like this level of “hardcore” play, but I am not one of them. I ended up starting over to get past the tutorial in fact.
Here is a video (editors note: video no longer exists) showing me playing the game, and showing you exactly HOW you can fail the tutorial. Its really silly. It also goes over character creation which has some bizarre quirks, such as how stats are defined. Protip – Dont try to play a mage. You apparently do not start with a spell and thus have to get into melee with enemies..and that hurts. At least I could not get any spells to work. Perhaps my skills were not high enough. The game does not really explain how the stats work or what you should be doing so its very easy to make a character who cannot succeed. My advice is to dump points into 1 stat till it reaches 100, and then spread the rest out. Your NPC companion you start with will have one of their stats at near 100 or higher, and it seems to be the best method to go.
The basic form of the game is a strategy RPG using a grid for movement. When not in combat you move your units around the map square by square based on their MOV stat. When an enemy appears on screen (And I do mean appears, as if you can see them they see you) the game switches to an Initiative based combat system. I could not figure out HOW turn order is decided, but it has to be linked to one of the stats. During combat you can take a single action each turn, either move or attack generally, but there are a few others that I managed to puzzle out such as defending. What makes the game a bit more unique is the use of RISK. You can, by holding down SHIFT, use a RISKY move. This allows you to take more then 1 action per round. However, the enemies can do the same, and if you are not paying attention then they will use RISK over and over again and just destroy a character. Until I figured out exactly what RISK did, I found that I would take my one action, end my turn that round, and then the enemies would just spam RISK actions to move and then repeatedly attack a single target. And if your main character dies, its game over.
You can recruit more players as the game progresses as well, although again I did not get far enough to see this in action. Your actions, such as choices made during character generation as well as dialog choices can change how people potentially view you. It appears to be very deep.
When not on a dungeon map, you have an overworld map. This allows you to move from dungeon to dungeon / location to location. Its very nice looking honestly, with some cool cloud effects. The locations also indicate that there is some sort of town or camp building system but sadly the game could not hold my interest long enough for me to get there. Also you can only save when on the world map.
2 HOUR RULE: FAILED.
This is complex in places it should not be, and simple in places it should not be. Its strange. Why make the stat system so complex with 9 stats in a 3×3 grid? Why make combat so simplistic? Most strategy games have that flipped if anything, and explain themselves better.
Thats my biggest gripe here. The game explains almost nothing. When I was able to completely fail the tutorial because I used a one use key on the wrong door (The game never says its 1 use by the way) and found that the other method of opening the door required a stat to be higher then I had it, I knew this game was not going to be for me.
If you want a hardcore RPG with literally no handholding then give this game a try. It is very popular but I can clearly tell its not my sort of game.