“I wonder if anyone will ever get tired of arena based battle games?” said no one ever. These days when you think of four-player versus fighting games, what usually comes to mind are the Super Smash Bros. titles or maybe if you actually enjoyed it, PlayStation All-Stars. But once in a while you see a nice indie title work its way into the fray. That is what you get with Paperbound, the new indie brawler to take on the likes of others such as Towerfall or Samurai Gunn.
The game is simple; you can attack your enemies with a slew of punches and kicks, a thrown pair of scissors, or a lobbed ink bomb that can hit multiple opponents in a small area. One small thing though is that Paperbound is only playable on local multiplayer, which can be alleviated by adding bots if you have no friends around to throw down with. Though when you have real people to play with this game gets very intense very fast.
The big pull of this game is the gravity manipulation that you can use around the arena for a quick getaway or to deliver a deadly blow from across the room. The way you move feels a lot like VVVVVV in which once you start moving in a direction you go until you hit a wall. The game not only takes ideas from other titles, but also characters, bringing access to the block-style characters from Monaco, or Juan from Guacamelee as playable characters.
If you think so far this game sounds simplistic, you would be right in terms of the mechanics. The gameplay, however, gets a little rough when you throw all these things together. It’s not easy trying to manipulate gravity and throw an ink bomb at just the right spot while trying to dodge a flying pair of scissors from across the room.
The game sports a few different modes such as versus, survival and a capture-the-flag type battle mode. There is also a mode called King which is pretty much Juggernaut from the Halo franchise.
With no online play and no real story mode to speak of you can burn through this game very quickly, especially if you’re just playing with bots and not real friends. The title is fun, but it doesn’t go very far. I feel as though online multiplayer would have made this game a much better experience for me given the fact that I had to buy an additional controller just to have someone else sit at my desk and play this with me. We both enjoyed the title, but not for very long.
The game features a neat aesthetic, as the title of Paperbound implies. It’s based around books and paper, which is quite apparent when picking your stage; you literally just pick a book off of a table.
While interesting, Paperbound wouldn’t be the game I run home to pick up and play after work. Honestly it’s the one that I would only take a second look at if I had nothing else to choose from in my library.
The title is fun, but I can’t say veterans of the genre will enjoy for too long. There may be a niche group of players who will love this game, but I am not one of them. The gravity is a great touch and adds a lot to the title to make it stand out; it just isn’t enough to make me come back for more.
Paperbound was developed and published by Dissident Games for PlayStation 4 and PC.
A PC download code was provided to Save/Continue for the purposes of this review.