NOTE: If you’re unable to download Xbox Live Indie Games (or any games for that matter) off the marketplace, you’re not alone.  I’m told they are now aware of the problem and it should be corrected shortly. 

UnBound purports to be an “open world adventure game.”  If this were true, all those juvenile delinquents who get ordered by courts to pick up trash on the side of a road should feel extra privileged.  The only adventure offered in UnBound is to pick up various orbs scattered throughout a rocky coastal mountain.  There’s no enemies to be found and the only objective is “find all the crap lying around.”  So the slogan attached to the box art is misleading.

Unbound takes place from a first-person perspective.  As stated above, the game is about finding orbs.  There’s three game modes.  In challenge, there’s five different scenarios for you to complete.  These games play more like connect-the-dots, which you’ll know better as an activity for three-year-olds and NOT an adventure of the open-world variety.  You basically just follow a string of orbs until you’ve collected every one on the map.  The first two “challenges” really offer no challenge at all.  And then you get to one called “Flood”, where the difficulty level curve goes so steep that it might be the world’s first successful space escalator.  In it, you’re still collecting orbs, only this time you can’t touch the continuously rising water.  The problem is it rises too fast, forcing you to hop back and forth to get each Orb.  The jumping is floaty enough that you might over-shoot your target and lose precious milliseconds.  Yes, milliseconds.  That’s how little time you have to react.

I will say this: UnBound would have made a cool Virtual Reality game.

The other modes offer a slightly more pleasurable time.  In adventure mode, you have to find 35 hidden blue orbs on an island.  Here, the connect-the-dots gameplay is significantly toned down and it gives the game a true sense of exploration.  As you collect the hundreds of green orbs lying around, your character becomes faster and can jump higher.  It’s kind of neat, making you feel like a budding superhero.  Unfortunately the land you traverse is lifeless and empty, so there’s not a whole lot for you to see or experience.  It’s like choosing to vacation in death valley.

Finally, there’s Survival mode, where you have a health bar that slowly depletes, forcing you to scramble around the map collecting orbs as quickly as possible to replenish it.  The object is to survive for as many days as possible.  I played through it four times and never made it to the second day, so obviously I’m doing something wrong.  Then again, I could never keep a goldfish alive for longer than a day either so maybe I’m not suited for this type of situation.  I do feel that the developer could have explained exactly how you’re supposed to stay alive longer.

Overall, UnBound feels kind of like a tech demo that would have been used two console generations ago.  It’s not exciting or engaging in the slightest bit, but it is functional and at times a teeny-tiny bit fun, especially when your character has all his stats maxed out and he’s jumping around the tops of mountains like he’s got Flubber on his shoes.  But the thrills are short-lived because the environment is so sterile that it almost feels like it leeches pleasure from your very soul, and that’s not cool.  Everyone knows souls that leak pleasure fetch lower prices in this market.

UnBound was developed by monufrak1

80 Microsoft Points chopped down a mountain with the edge of their hand in the making of this review.

About Indie Gamer Chick
Indie game reviews and editorials.

18 Responses to UnBound

  1. jdanddiet says:

    sounds like a nice idea but they forgot to put in a game.

    • Yeah, that’s pretty much the feeling I was left with having played it for a while. It’s gorgeous for an XBLIG game and the idea of exploring this environment is nice, but there’s almost no content. You’re basically wandering around a pretty picture most of the time.

  2. jdanddiet says:

    like an xblig version of myst.

  3. Starglider says:

    It looks like they took the free XNA Quickstart engine (which renders terrain and floating balls like that out of the box) and did the absolute minimum necessary to make a game. Although to be fair maybe they did write a terrain renderer from scratch, then did the absolute minimum necessary to make that into a game.

    • Craig says:

      That’s what many developers who mess with the starter kits do. Just make minimum assets if any, tack them onto the sample game and just release it. These games get ridiculous sales despite the utter lack of effort put into them.

  4. jdanddiet says:

    I’m not a myst fan lol

  5. OmegaKid says:

    Game is highly messed on Challenge Mode, can’t pass even the first Fog stage, i ask me why not to make all challenges unlocked by default… Without a map or some visual/audio tips is too frustrating to find all Orbs when u can’t see anything. Adventure is pretty easy, Survival is more great and brilliant but seems unbalanced and bad explained. All u have to do is to optimize red orbs (who replenish energy bar), and get more yellow orbs u can, rise multiplicator and then get blue special orbs. Get purple orbs to maximise health bar. If u get 4000 points before get blue orb u will obtain the time accelerator, that seems to me a mandatory task because all items will respawn after 1 week, and seems pretty hard to resist after day 4 without it, if not pretty boring and frustrating.

  6. OmegaKid says:

    Ok, i’ve figured out the Fog level, i’m not in the whole Challenge purpose (mandatory trails) but the Flood one is a serious game braker. I’ve contacted author and seems due to feedbacks he will tweak something, let’s see.

  7. OmegaKid says:

    Now i’ve made 14 Days on Survival Mode, unlocked the 10.000 Orbs reward (WOW!!!).
    A great Indie game, pity for Challenges mode.

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  10. billy says:

    In Adventure mode, I got all the green orbs and still couldn’t get last blue orb…WTF!!!

  11. Victor says:

    Ummm… Was that video supposed excite me into buy this game? The person demoing the game seemed to really like the sun setting and rising, and the water effects, but didn’t show any of the game play??? Seriously weird video IMO. lol

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