Bookbound Brigade – EGX Hands-On

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by Badger Nimahson

Bookbound Brigade is a beautiful platformer and I seriously cannot wait to get some serious time with. Full of puzzles, lite RPG elements, strategy and amazing humour all tied up in a wonderful story make Bookbound Brigade one of the top 10 indies I played at EGX 2019.

Bookbound Brigade is developed by Italian Developer Digital Tales thanks to a grant from Creative Europe and is an absolute joy to play but has a lot to unpack.

The best place to start unpacking Bookbound Brigade is probably the Press release from Digital Tales themselves:

What if all the protagonists of books lost their memory? Venture into their world and beat the hell out of historical and literary characters you studied in school!

Bookbound Brigade is a new take on the established Metroidvania genre where classic stories and well-known characters get the video game treatment, and where the player gets to lead a colourful bunch of real and fictional heroes through a 2D side-scrolling platform-adventure in a quest to battle overwhelming hordes of monsters and bring order back to the literary world.

KEY FEATURES:

• Explore, fight, backtrack, grow your skills and tackle challenging quests and puzzles, as in any Metroidvania game worthy of its name, but get ready for a twist…

• There is no single hero in Bookbound Brigade: you play as a party of unique characters, each with their own traits and skills, who move in formation and fight as one

• All the characters, both playing and non-playing, are drawn from the pages of history and literature, so expect to meet some familiar and less familiar faces!

• The distinctive hand-drawn visuals, inspired by book illustration from all time, stray far from the pixel art dominating the Metroidvania genre

Bookbound Brigade

Story

The Book of Books (B.O.B) has been ripped apart and it is up to your band of literary characters to find the pages and restore the book. Fail in your quest and all literature in the universe will be destroyed forever!

Your group of fearless heroes is made up of characters like King Arthur, Dracula, Robin Hood, Queen Victoria and more. Although these characters are instantly recognisable and loved by everyone you might not have seen them like this before.

The humour and the new take on the characters is nothing short of genius. For instance, the conversation between King Arthur and Joan of Arc is comedy gold. Joan of Arc is trying to convince you to find her fireproof armour because she is scared to go outside without it since she, understandably, has a crippling fear of fire.

All the way through the dialogue King Arthur is just dropping fire puns and pissing poor Joan off in an attempt to trigger her anxiety. Yep, that’s right the good old noble once and future King is a bit of a dick and would rather have a cup of tea than go on a quest.

Bookbound Brigade

King Arthur isn’t alone in a character change either. Robin Hood has got a bit jaded in his endeavours. He has, famously, spent centuries stealing from the rich to give to the poor but the poor are still poor. Coming to the conclusion that they will be poor whether he helps them or not now he just robs from the rich and keeps it for himself.

There are 8 playable characters to recruit into your band of heroes with many, many more to meet along your journey.

Bookbound Brigade

Gameplay

Bookbound Brigade features characters from a wide range of historical and fictional literature so of course, it has game mechanics from a wide range of genres.

Bookbround Brigade is nostalgia inspired platformer with a Metroidvania style that includes strategy, puzzles and light RPG elements.

There are 8 characters to recruit into your team and each character brings a new formation. Since your characters all move as one the formations become incredibly important not just for solving puzzles and exploration but for defeating bosses too.

Bookbound Brigade

As well as formations each character has two skills. One for attack and one for navigation. Tie these skills in with RPG style unlocks and buffs and suddenly this colourful, cute, platformer becomes a deep and strategic game.

Bookbound Brigade is indeed a homage to the genres we all love but at the same time sets out to innovate too. I have to say the short time I have had hands-on definitely suggests that Digital Tales have achieved that goal.

Bookbound Brigade

Final Thoughts

Bookbound Brigade took me completely by surprise. I was expecting to play a sweet, fun little platformer and what I got was something much, much more.

Speaking to the team at the stand they explained that the critical path throughout the game is open and accessible to gamers of all age and abilities but if you want to explore and 100% the game then you are in for one hell of a challenge.

The mixture of multiple genres with numerous famous characters would be a difficult job for any studio but Digital Tales have pulled this off perfectly. The humour is brilliant without demeaning the characters. The gameplay is pick up and play, to begin with, and gently introduces new elements that allow players to progress without frustration.

Bookbound Brigade is genuinely one those indie game that you discover at a convention like EGX and instantly know this is going to be a massive hit when it releases on PC, PS4 and Nintendo Switch by the end of the year.

I hope to bring you a full review as soon as I can but for now please for the love of gaming make sure you purchase Bookbound Brigade. You will not be disappointed.