With the success of games like Smash Bros., it’s no surprise that others would want to try their hand in the arena battle genre. One such title is Paperbound from developer Dissident Logic. While it contains all of the ingredients that make the genre popular and is fun in its own right, it’s isn’t exactly going to blow anyone away.
The most important thing to know about Paperbound is that it is an offline only game. That doesn’t mean it’s a single player experience however. Couch co-op reigns here which means that having buddies around to play with is ideal. If you don’t have anyone to play with (either because everyone is off working or you have no friends) then you can play with up to three bots in furious one on one or two on two battles.
Combat is straight forward. Each of the similarly controlling characters has a melee, projectile, and bomb attack. Scissors are the most deadly weapon in the game and can instantly kill opponents even if they are on the other side of the arena. If you want to obtain scissors, you’ll need to grab them from the field while avoiding getting killed. Ink bombs are useful for hitting foes at close range but players only get one each. While both ink bombs and scissors are deadly, they can be deflected back at foes with a melee attack. This keeps players from getting cheesy with the super attacks.
What makes things interesting is the gravity manipulation mechanic. You can cross great distances by turning gravity on and off for yourself. This is easier said than done however since you are attracted to the closest floating island in the arena. Careful timing however can help you avoid landing and allow you to hover in mid-air. This aspect adds some strategy to the otherwise by-the-numbers combat.
There are four distinct game modes here: Classic Versus, Survival, Long Live the King, and Capture the Quill. Despite the names, these are the standard modes you will find in any of these sort of games. Versus has players facing off in one on one or two on two battles. Survival isn’t much different from versus other than each player has a limited amount of lives. Long Live the King has one player score points as the king and whoever kills him becomes the new king. Lastly, Capture the Quill is (as you may have guessed) capture the flag.
While I can appreciate the simplistic art style employed here, it didn’t exactly impress me either. There is a point where something can be too visually simplistic and Paperbound is just that. Each of the arenas are broken up into themed books. While the Egyptian, and Dante’s Inferno arenas may have different names, they didn’t exactly feel different from one another despite their different color palettes and arrangement of floating islands. The characters weren’t anything special either, with the only exception being the Mexican wrestler from Guacamelee who makes a guest appearance.
For those who like to play arena battle games with drunken buddies, Paperbound may be for you. It doesn’t do anything wildly original but there is fun to be had for fans of the genre.
This review of Paperbound is based on a digital copy for the PlayStation 4 which was provided by Dissident Logic.