As anyone who struggled through Orphen on the PS2 will tell you, the first RPG of a hardware generation is rarely an impressive experience. The vast amount of content that needs to be created for your average dungeon-crawler also makes them quite rare in the first year of any console. Bound By Flame neatly solves this problem by having so little content you could write the plot on the back of cereal packet and still have room for a large picture of Snap, Crackle and Pop laughing and counting your money.
Bound By Flame is a poster-boy for the janky Euro-RPG, a genre loved by contrarians everywhere. These games are packed with typos, glitchy animation and poorly rendered cut-scenes - and on this level the game excels, even misspelling the name of your protagonist in the loading screen hints. The setting is a deeply sub-Tolkien fantasy milieu: the world of Vertiel has been overtaken by Ice Lords, and the virtuous Red Scribes are looking for an ancient power that will help even the score. Of course, their ritual to invoke it goes badly wrong, and as the Red Scribes' bodyguard Vulcan, you end up getting a demon stuck inside you. Will you succumb to its world-conquering desires or will you do the right thing? The right thing obviously being to go and play something, anything else.
Bound By Flame desperately wants to be Mass Effect, with its interpersonal relationships, moral dilemmas and gritty dialogue, but it manages to mess it up every time. Take the character creation screen: you can pick your character's name, but everyone calls you Vulcan anyway. I went for a female character, only to discover that everyone called her 'lad' regardless. And while it may seem like a minor point, it's sad that the only hairstyles available for girls are soccer mom, skinhead and Miley Cyrus.