Snip snip and tear it up
Paperbound is a charming and simple battle arena game with engrossing combat, a delightful art style as well as a cast of colourful characters including cameos such as Juan from Guacamelee. There isn’t much single player content but that’s not what arena combat games are about; they’re all about the multiplayer. This game will provide some excellent moments with friends, although it doesn’t have much longevity and is unlikely to keep you coming back for too much more.
Armed with a pair of scissors and the ability to invert gravity, you take on 1-3 other players in several different arenas. The goal is to escape through a tear in the page which you earn by getting a set amount of kills in Classic Versus mode. The tear closes when the top player is killed, and whoever becomes the next top player gains the opportunity to escape through their own tear. The game also features Survival mode, where the player with any lives remaining is the winner. The third game mode is Long Live the King, where you score points by staying alive as the king. One game mode which is slightly more notable is Paperbound’s version of Capture the Flag, Capture the Quill in which you must steal the opposing team’s quill and return it to your own ink pot. Whilst the other game modes can be played in teams as well as free for all, Capture the Quill is team only.
Paperbound is frantic and a lot of fun in multiplayer, but is best played in short bursts due to its repetitiveness and lack of variable game modes. Even with the four different game modes provided, things can quickly become stale, but despite this the game can be fun in small slices with a group of friends.
Although there isn’t much to do in single player, it can still be challenging and amusing. You can play with 1-3 bots and while it isn’t exactly the same as playing multiplayer, the bots perform well enough to have some fun, for a while at least.
The combat here is fast and furious. You are equipped with a melee weapon, each character having their own, and while all of them look different on the outside, they perform in much the same way. As well as this you are also armed with two different projectiles. The scissors, which glide through the arena and instantly kill anyone who gets in their way, and an inkwell which explodes once it makes contact with either a rival player or the arena wall, and also kills any enemies who are caught in the explosion. While the scissors can be retrieved from the map when thrown and used again, you only get one inkwell per life meaning that while they are capable of killing multiple enemies at once, they are also sparse and must be used carefully.
What keeps the combat fresh is the ability to invert gravity. This is excellently implemented, really adds to the experience and makes the game even more fast-paced, particularly in the smaller arenas with less obstacles. Players can jump towards each other and take out their enemies mid-flight. That moment you catch your enemy in the air with a melee swipe and escape through your page tear can be fantastic and very satisfying.
One notable exclusion in the game is the lack of an online multiplayer mode. I can only imagine how fun it would be to lay waste to other players online and to me this seems like a strange omission. Games like this are meant to be played with other people and if you don’t have friends who are interested in playing the game then you are stuck playing it alone, which after a while is no fun at all.
Paperbound is a fun game, albeit one you are not likely to get much time out of. There is very little to do when playing alone. It is a fun game, but the small amount of game modes and the lack of online play mean that you aren’t going to be spending large amounts of time with this game. It is, however, entertaining enough to return to when you’re looking for something amusing to pass the time with friends.
Dan O’Neill 7/10