What happens when you mix the action of Super Smash Bros., the anti-gravity sections of Inception and classic literature? You get Paperbound, a highly competitive couch multiplayer game for 2-4 players. I was able to go hands on with this unique, strange and charming brawler, finding quite a bit to enjoy.
Players take on the role of storybook characters brought to life for the sole purpose of causing mayhem across worlds created from some of history’s most treasured stories. One of the first things you’ll notice is the beautiful art style. Reminiscent of Tearaway, Paperbound looks like a book brought to life. There are five worlds based on five different books — Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Book of the Dead, A Book of Five Rings, Skull Kingdom and Dante’s Inferno — and every map has a unique look. For example, The Book of the Dead levels look Egyptian.
Paperbound is much like Super Smash Bros. in that four players jump around a level and try to beat the living the crap out of each other. There are a total of four modes shipping with the game: Classic Versus, Capture the Quill, Longer Live the King and Last Man Standing. I only had time to play Classic Versus, which involves players attempting to get ten kills and then escaping through a portal. If the player dies before they make it to the portal, then it closes and they need to get another kill to reopen it. This led to some mad dashes and chaotic action as I tried to escape, or stop others from escaping.
Gameplay is kept simple, though there is a surprising amount of depth. This is thanks to Paperbound’s key gameplay mechanic, gravity. Paperbound’s free-form gravity allows players to go anywhere on the map. You can run on walls, the roof and random objects on the map. If there’s a surface, you can walk on it. This opens up plenty of strategic gameplay options not present in a standard brawler. You’ll need to be mindful of your surroundings as players can come from anywhere, and they’ll be coming after you with some heavy duty weaponry.
Players are equipped with either a sword, a staff or a hammer for up close encounters, a pair of scissors that can be thrown at will, and an ink bomb for heavy area damage. There’s nothing special about this weaponry, but when you combine them with gravity, or the lack there-of, is when combat gets crazy and unpredictable. It’s a fun chaos and never feels unfair.
Paperbound can be played solo against bots, or with up to four human players. Unfortunately, the game only supports coach co-op. Online co-op is a feature that Dissident Studios hopes to add in the future, but they are a small studio and can only do so much at a time. We hope this feature is added, as many people may not have the time or means to get four people together in one room.
With a unique concept, interesting art style and chaotic gameplay, Paperbound has just about everything you could possibly want out of a brawler. Paperbound will launch March 31 on PS4 and PC via Steam for $9.99. That’s a small entry fee for a fun little brawler, though we heavily suggest you make sure you can get a group of friends together. Paperbound is a game that benefits heavily from playing with others.