Despite not even having the headset in hand, Bound was one of the first games that I downloaded for PlayStation VR. I was impressed with the game and its visual design back when I reviewed it, so with the VR enabling patch installed, one of my first thoughts was to revisit the game and see exactly what Plastic were aiming for through VR.
I’m going to go ahead and say that playing Bound using VR is the absolute best way to experience what Plastic has crafted. The iconic design fits with VR so well, with the blocky sea that stretches beneath you giving a sense of scale that would fit a larger world, while the ballerina stands in front of you. Sensibly, Bound retains its third person camera, using VR as an opportunity to wrap you up in the world, as opposed to going through the awkward changes that would have been necessary to switch to the first person.
As you move through the levels you’ll use the right analog stick to change the camera angles, which snap from one position to another quite smoothly, instead of floating around in the direction you push the stick. You can view the action from a side on position, from in front of the ballerina or follow her path from behind. You’ll change between these views constantly, and while I wasn’t affected by it, I feel that some may get a bit dizzy from the constant shifts. It does take a little getting used to at first, but after a couple of minutes switching felt natural. There was one area where the camera didn’t seem to quite help, but it was countered by seeing a representation of an M.C. Escher drawing in VR.
The thing about Bound is that it doesn’t make me excited about where VR is going with gaming, but about the potential use for art, be it theatre, ballet, or even museum installations. Most of my time with Bound in VR felt like I was watching a play unfold in front of me as opposed to playing a game. During cutscenes I felt like an audience member watching that play. In between levels are dioramas that form as the pieces fly into place and I was moving about these using the camera, exploring every nook and cranny to see what the scene held. Bound shows just how much potential there is for VR to reach out to non-gamers.
Bound is a solid game that has been built for VR, and manages to show the avenues that the technology can be used for if implemented correctly. It is an engrossing title on its own, but when played in VR it feels like a different experience altogether. You notice things that would have passed you by in the regular mode, with new details popping up that change perceptions of events that occur in game. If you have a PSVR or are thinking of picking one up then I suggest making Bound a part of your game library.