A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bound is a downloadable action platformer. Action mainly consists of playing as a Tron-like princess ballerina winding her way through obstacle-laden areas filled with abstract shapes. There's no combat, gore, or inappropriate content in the game.
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What's it about?
In BOUND, you don't learn any of the characters' names, their relationships, or even in blatant terms what happened between them. You do see things play out in a fantasy land (a futuristic ballerina dancing around abstract shapes) and in the real world (a pregnant woman walking on the beach). To understand the connections between these two worlds and the mature topics it covers, you'll have to go through the story, which involves a princess trying her best to save her kingdom.
Is it any good?
This adventure is a difficult game to recommend not because there are other titles that play better, but because it doesn't do much different that's distinct. It has artistic ambitions, but its story is told so fuzzily that it doesn't even offer meaningful respite from the game's monotonous core of running and jumping. Whether you're exploring what seems to be fragmented memories of family scenes before storming out the door or returning to playing as the futuristic princess-ballerina, what you do and how things unfold seem fairly arbitrary and disjointed. For example, as you're jumping around abstract landscapes filled with shapes, you'll inevitably fall. But falling, just like getting lost, doesn't really matter: The times you do plummet off the screen, the game blinks you back to before your last leap and lets you get on your way. Basically, whatever direction you set off in and whatever you do, it doesn't matter: While there are shortcuts to discover, every path you find will take you to your destination for that level. That isn't freeing, and the fact that the story is foggy doesn't provide much in the way of incentive to press further.
Is the game pretty and nice to look at? Somewhat. There are strong nods to other artists, such as Mondrian's bold, colorful squares and rectangles, contrasted with big abrasive polygons. It's also clear that this is far more about the journey than the destination. But if it's about dancing, whenever you're called upon to dance, there's no grace or elegance required; you can just mash buttons. If the game is about exploration, it doesn't matter because you can go in any direction and there's nothing it necessarily offers you. So the beauty is in the eye of the beholder here, which means it's worth a look but doesn't have much to say beyond that.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why some families aren't able to stay together. Why would that be a theme for a video game, a medium historically thought of as being only for children? Why would a game like Bound choose to explore it even abstractly?
The game's story is very opaque, which seems to be a deliberate choice. Why would any work of art choose a sensitive subject and be almost coy and fuzzy in its execution?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4
- Price: $19.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment America
- Release date: August 16, 2016
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Fantasy Violence
- Last updated: March 8, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.