Playing as a wicked witch Beetleborg ballerina in Sony Santa Monica's Bound

0
25

Coming to PS4 next year

While, maybe, I won’t find corroboration in my headline, those are the allusions I was drawn to playing the newly announced game from Sony Santa Monica and Plastic (Linger in Shadows, Datura), Bound.

You play as a ballerina, which brings with it an almost initially off-putting aloofness and elegance. Think the White Swan from Basically Perfect Blue. That near haughtiness combined with the lack of a face (thanks to the Big Bad Beetleborgs helmet) and greenish Margaret Hamilton skin and, really, what other comparison am I supposed to draw?

If the announcement isn’t clear, Bound is a platformer. You play as a pregnant woman delving through her own memories to try and learn how to be a better parent. Her parents stifled her early interest in becoming a ballerina, thus the lead princes character you control in the game through metaphorical representations of the mind.

The most striking thing about Bound isn’t the art style and detritus-filled world, but the way your character moves. The team initially tried to animate the game by hand, but ended up going to an actual ballerina for motion capture in order to give emotion and realism to the movement. That means something as simple as a ledge shimmy becomes a piece of performative movement as the character effectively rolls across the wall, chest and back pressed against it alternately.

While I often find myself appreciate unique quirks of movement in games, locomotion is typically a means to an end (get from point A to point B), so watching these deliberate and exact steps, while not the most efficient means of wandering about, is interesting to watch. The same goes for the ballerina’s unique roll, or while holding R2 to dance to deflect enemies (in this case, random geometry from the world attacking her).

There’s a lot more from Bound to see, including more of the narrative beats, and the demo ended right before an encounter with an actual, giant monster, so I’m not sure how the dancing “combat” would work out in a more traditional sense (or if a fight ends up happening at all). So far, though, moving around the world is fun to watch and perform.