When I was offered an opportunity to play a game featuring literary characters, I lept at the chance. Bookbound Brigade is in full release, with updates still coming, developed by Digital Tales USA and published by Intragames. I had watched a few short videos and the trailers released for Bookbound Brigade and couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy on my PlayStation 4. I have a profound appreciation for classic literature, so I was very excited.
The point of the game is to find and return the B.O.B. (Book of Books) to save the Literary World where every character ever recorded lives. After BOB is stolen, its pages ripped out and scattered, the Literary World is thrown into chaos and all the characters start having their personalities affected. As the player moves through the story, gathering pages and solving puzzles, they begin to find new characters and learning skills. The player collects Memory Pages to use as currency and can use them to upgrade your crew’s skills and abilities. Bookbound Brigade is a side-scrolling style, with the player controlling the group of heroes, including King Arthur, Dracula, Robin Hood, and others, all at once. They move, jump, and fight all at the same time in a little group. The formations can change and allow for special attacks, but more on that later.
The graphics are fun and cartoony, with attack animations for each member of the group. The sound effects were good as well, with some slightly over-the-top yet appropriate reactions from the characters in your crew. There are five distinct areas to explore, each with unique traps, minions and battles, along with many NPCs to interact with, all of whom are characters from classic works of both fiction and non-fiction. The player rescues them and sends them back to the Library, where they can be interacted with again, sending the player on quests that encourage revisiting previous areas with newly acquired skills that help to navigate further into the map.
Speaking of the map, I found it to be difficult to understand and use. It consisted of boxes linked by passageways that didn’t quite line up and didn’t make a lot of sense. There would be many icons on the map and I would find myself trying to decipher which passage to take, only to find a “razor door” that would kill on touch, or a platform that I couldn’t reach yet.
The mobs and baddies are also mostly from classic literature. The combat isn’t bad, but it would get pretty crazy at times, which leads me to my next problem: the controls.
This is my biggest problem with Bookbound Brigade. For example, the player can change the formation the heroes are in with a combination of buttons. Swapping from one formation to another, it turns out, greatly helps in different situations. The issue is that it doesn’t happen every time. I tested different controllers, reset the PS4, even went so far as to uninstall and reinstall the game. The only consistency was the controls inconsistency. Sometimes it would work correctly, other times it would take four or five tries to change formation. In a sweaty boss fight, this is not convenient. Other times I would press jump and run straight off the edge. Some traps require you to make some precise jumps, and yet I found myself time and again dying due to no reaction.
All in all, this game is cute, and has a lot of potential. It was neat to see such recognizable figures brought to life in a video game. I have very high hopes that this project will be completed. It was fun to play, the puzzles were engaging, and the combat was decent. I have every expectation that the devs will continue their work on this game, and their dedication to classic literature shows with every map change and each area. However, considering the problems I had with controls and no real way to rectify the situation, I would not recommend this title for purchase as it is right now. Once these issues are fixed, I will definitely give this title another shot. But until then, I’m going to place it on the “Check the Progress” pile.