reviews\ Dec 15, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Unbound Saga Review


Rick and Lori are comic book characters and they know it. They are aware of the pages and panels that construct their world, of the Maker whose hand reaches in to draw villains, and of the bouts of amnesia that often afflict their kind. Unbound Saga is primed to be a self-referential comedy of comic book cliches, but fails to become anything more than a sub-standard beat-'em-up.

What bothers me most is the wasted potential. The history of comics is full of ridiculous trends and absurd plots ripe for lampooning. You could easily devote an entire game to mocking the late '90s, or just Rob Liefeld's bizarre contortions of the human body. Unbound Saga makes half-baked attempts to work references to crossovers and amnesia into the humor, but the two jokes never manage to amuse, no matter how many times they're repeated.

The duo are suitably stereotypical, with Rick playing the beefcake powerhouse and Lori as the agile vixen in slutty attire. Inspiring nostalgia is undoubtedly part of the point, but it doesn't excuse the brainless button-mashing that almost makes X-Men: The Arcade Game look like BlazBlue. Nor does it help that the enemies you battle at the beginning are reskinned and recycled throughout. There are simply more of them, and in groups, they have a knack for trapping you in deadly and unavoidable combos.

Unbound Saga at least makes an attempt at variety with skill-trees for both characters. For example: Rick's skills include marginally more effective combos, increased stamina, or more damage with environmental objects. The latter is one of Unbound Saga's few strengths, and each stage is littered with breakable objects that can be wielded as weapons.

No amount of customization can save this adventure from horrible pacing though. There is very little continuity as you move from panel to panel. One moment you're on a sun-baked rooftop, then a moonlit alley, and then down in the sewers for no apparent reason. At one point, Rick wonders aloud if they skipped a page. More like an entire issue. There is no feeling of progression, let alone a coherent story to lure you forward.

Unbound Saga has a tempting premise and a snazzy style, complete with visual sound effects, but the brawling action can't hold a candle to Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, or even Turtles in Time Re-Shelled. As a fan of the genre, it saddens me to say that the best thing about Unbound Saga is the unusually cool soundtrack.

Below Average

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