Bookbound Brigade – Review
Follow Genre: Metroidvania Platformer
Developer: Digital Tales S.r.l.
Publisher: Intragames, Digital Tales S.r.l.
Platform: Switch, PS4, PC, Xbox One
Tested on: Switch

Bookbound Brigade – Review

Site Score
Good: Beautiful and varied environments
Bad: Zoomed out perspective makes it hard to focus on the game
User Score
(4 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (4 votes cast)

What if Dracula and Nikola Tesla teamed up with King Arthur? It’s a scenario you probably never dreamed of, but it’s one of the many unlikely questions answered by Digital Tales in their new platformer Bookbound Brigade. With a variety of literary and historical characters meeting each other, Bookbound Brigade offers an adventure featuring dozens of familiar faces from the books everyone knows and loves. Is this the real ultimate crossover or does that crown still belong to the MCU?


A fantastic-looking animated cutscene introduces us to the Literary World, where all the classic tales reside. The heart of the Literary World is the Book of Books, or B.O.B. for short. This mighty tome contains all the written knowledge in the world. When a mysterious evil force steals the B.OB. and its pages get scattered all over the Literary World, characters end up in places where they’re not supposed to be… and they can’t remember anything about the event! The only one who hasn’t suffered from amnesia is the unseen Narrator, who calls upon you, the player to save the day! You don’t have to go at this alone, as you will be accompanied by the Bookbound Brigade. This Brigade consists of an eclectic cast of characters you are most likely already familiar with, as they are a mix of fictional and historical characters that play lead parts in classic literature. Familiar faces such as Robin Hood and Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, but also lesser-known protagonists such as the Monkey King from Journey to the West form the core of this band of heroes. You join the brigade as they embark on a journey through the settings of classic tales, from Treasure Island to the medieval world of King Arthur in order to return B.O.B. to its rightful place at the center of the library. 


Although Bookbound Brigade juggles a huge variety of both characters and environments, there is a stylistic consistency. Whether it’s an Orc-infested fantasy world or a lush jungle, everything meshes well with the character designs. The Literary World is an attractive, colorful place that offers plenty of visual appeal. Unfortunately, much of that appeal is lost simply because the game is zoomed out too much -both the titular brigade and any enemies you encounter are very tiny. This is especially apparent in handheld mode on the Switch, and it can be tiring just to concentrate on the game because everything is so small. It’s somewhat understandable that the game is zoomed out, given the number of characters that are on screen at any given time, but the game pushes this beyond an acceptable extreme and the overall presentation suffers as a result. Given the attention to detail that was put into the designs and animations, it’s frankly baffling that this choice was made. Character designs can be seen up close in the menus and they look fantastic, and tiny details in the animations really bring them to life. As an example of these details, if the Brigade jumps on top of a platform that would realistically be too small to fit them on, they actually react and start balancing, holding on to one another to prevent falling off. Such details would have been much more appreciated if the game was more focused on the characters, rather than showing as much of the world as possible in a single screen. 


The fantastic narration in the opening cutscene really raises your expectations for the voice work that you’d expect to encounter in the game. Unfortunately, this cutscene is the only part of the game that is actually narrated -every other piece of dialogue is written. It’s well-written banter, and the narrator has a part to play in the story of Bookbound Brigade, but this is a game that really would have benefited from voices for the characters. The music in the game is nothing to write home about either. 


Bookbound Brigade offers a Metroidvania-style platformer with a few clever twists. You start out with a cast of six classical characters, and as you make your way through the various tales of the Literary World, you’ll run into a plethora of additional characters. Some will join the Brigade, while others offer sidequests or request help. Your ultimate goal is, of course, to reclaim the B.O.B. and return the Literary World to its peaceful self. As you progress through the worlds and encounter new characters, you’ll unlock new abilities for the Brigade. Some of these abilities come from new characters, but your original Brigade members will pick up a few tricks along the way. Take Dracula, for example: once you reach a certain point in the game, you’ll unlock his cape, allowing the Brigade to double jump and glide a short distance. Meanwhile, Queen Victoria, a character that joins the Brigade a bit later in the game, unlocks an ability that allows the Brigade to stack on top of one another and form a tower. As a tower, the brigade has an easier time jumping on narrow platforms, but they can also lift up smaller enemies and catapult them as projectiles towards larger ones. Other characters unlock other formations, such as a line or a cartwheel, so there’s plenty of ways to guide your Brigade through the levels.

Unlocking these abilities gradually offers plenty of replay value, as there are a plethora of collectibles hidden throughout the game, and of course, some are out of reach until you unlock the appropriate ability. Add in the obligatory boss battles, and you’ll have a well-crafted game that offers a fun experience but never really surprises. Don’t get us wrong, there’s plenty of clever mechanics here when it comes to controlling a multi-character squad as a single character, but gameplay-wise it’s just a slight variant of things we’ve seen in plenty of other games. Controls are smooth, although your mileage may vary for some of the trickier jumps and the hitboxes on spikes are very unforgiving. Additionally, many of the traps are unpredictable, and the difficulty levels of the puzzles are all over the place. Combat mainly consists of repetitive button mashing, so if you’re looking for tricky boss fights, this isn’t the game for you. The central hub of the game, the library, can also be tricky to navigate, simply because there is no real sense of direction and every part of it looks the same. This is somewhat mitigated by the in-game map, which can be looked up at any time, but the fact that the central hub requires a map feels strange. 


Bookbound Brigade doesn’t bring anything new to the table. It may be a by-the-numbers game, but it is a good by-the-numbers game. The character designs are fantastic and the detail-work really brings the Literary World to life. There are a couple of design flaws, such as the way too tiny character sprites and the disorganized hub. These prevent the game from reaching excellency, but overall, Bookbound Brigade deserves to be looked at. 

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (4 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Bookbound Brigade - Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 4 ratings

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