When I learnt of Bookbound Brigade, I must admit I was a little intrigued by its setting. Literary figures saving their world of print may not be the most original idea, but I was curious about the references and characters that the game would include. As for what the game actually is, it’s a 2D Metroidvania!
The game opens up with a narrator, doing his best to be dramatic and ham it up. It works with the story and quirky characters, giving it a bit of life and injecting humour. The tutorial messages keep to the whimsical tone to get you into the mood of this world. Once the Book of Books, which is also referred to as B.O.B., gets Unbound, the adventure begins!
The characters have gone a little loopy now that the pages holding their, uh, characters, together, have gone to the wind. Checking up on your brigade and those around them, you can see they have their Unbound personality, which is naturally off and typically opposite of who they usually are. It can make for amusing entries when you read them up.
Now that we’re covered our introduction to the lore, how about the game proper? As is typical of a “Metroidvania”, you platform around and defeat enemies and bosses along the way. Some areas will be blocked off to you, which you can return to after acquiring a specific skill. You learn skills when you meet the affiliated person, which you can acquire with Memory Pages. There are also formations that you learn to shuffle your stack around in order to access places too.
The game can be a little unforgiving with its controls and checkpoints. Personally, I faced a roadblock when needing to hop across a river with timed platforms, that have instant kill spikes along the sides. I got towards the end, not realizing the platform I was on would sink, and the last checkpoint is at the very beginning of the river. The book that served as a save point should I run out of HP is pretty far too, if I happen to die near the boss. It can be frustrating if you typically don’t play platformers. If you’ve seen the gameplay video, the spikes have a funky hitbox too…
The formations are interesting though, with varying effects depending on which you use. They can also help you in the platforming too. For example, the tower formation can help you jump more accurately if the platform is very small. There is a little bit of leeway if you hang off the platform, as though the characters are helping the others back up. They make amusing sounds too, just for extra flavour.
Overall though, it’s probably a game for those who already like platformers. The story and character quirks may not appeal to everyone, with some running gags that may overstay their welcome. It has some learning curve, so keep that in mind if you wish to get the game anyway.