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Game Info:

Spellbind
Developed by: Spider Key Games
Published by: Spider Key Games
Released: March 4, 2016
Available on: Windows, Mac
Genre: Puzzle, Adventure
Number of players: 1
Price: $2.99

Thank you, Black Shell Media, for providing a copy of this game to review!

In the small town of Riathon, 16-year-old Luppe runs the largest gang of thieves. His rival challenges him to sneak into the home of Lord Amatar to steal the most expensive bottle of wine in the cellar. The task shouldn't be a problem for the self-proclaimed king of thieves, but Luppe finds more than he expected in the seemingly abandoned mansion.

That's the backstory of the game "Spellbind" from Spider Key Games. You play Luppe in his adventure through the "creepy," seemingly abandoned mansion. The game consists of a series of still scenes, with navigation done by clicking on the edges of the screen. Likewise, you interact with objects on the screen simply by pointing and clicking. Right-click to open your inventory to use items or cast spells. Travel through the house – or through a magical diary – and solve the 12 different puzzles in order to find out what happened to Lord Amatar and escape the house.

Spellbind
Highlights:

Strong Points: Entertaining puzzles; low price
Weak Points: Short game; primitive graphics; mediocre storyline; little replay value
Moral Warnings: Minor language; some blood; demonic references; main character is a thief

The controls are as familiar as the scenario. The game seems influenced by similar predecessors, such as the Labyrinth of Time, Myst or the 7th Guest. Unlike those classics, though, Spellbind suffers from low-quality graphics and short gameplay.

Even though the game was put together in Unity, the scenes look more like individual pictures pasted together in Photoshop. I'm not sure if this is an attempt to be "retro," but the end result comes out as more amateurish rather than stylish. In addition, after completing all the puzzles and getting into the ending, the art shifts into an 8-bit style that ends up feeling like a completely different game. In this portion, you have to answer a series of questions that will determine which of the three game endings you will receive. Your actions with the puzzles have no bearing on the ending you receive, either.

The music is all right, but a bit repetitive. Sound effects are minimal, and there is no voice acting in the game whatsoever. The strengths of the game lies in the puzzles. There is a nice variety to the puzzles, including a word search and a shifting tile game. Three of the puzzles, however, can be solved quite rapidly simply by trying different combinations in a systematic approach until the correct solution is found (oddly enough, each of these puzzles also have clues hidden nearby that provide the answers). This only takes a few moments, since there are few combinations available. Also, there are only 12 puzzles in the game. You can choose to solve them all, or skip the ones you don't want to complete. You can skip all of them, if you wish, and there's even a Steam achievements for doing so. For 100% completion you will have to play through the game twice. Given that the answers to the puzzles don't change, this doesn't take too much time – I've finished the game in four hours, and that includes the time I left the computer sitting while taking care of household chores. 

Spellbind
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 56%
Gameplay - 10/20
Graphics - 4/10
Sound - 5/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 76%
Violence - 4/10
Language - 8/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 8/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8/10

There was one spot during my second playthrough where the game froze. I had to force-quit out of the game, and when I returned it had left me off at the start of one of the previous puzzles. A minor irritation, but still a sign that the game isn't completely bug-free. There also are a few typos that occur in the course of the game as well, but not ones that affect gameplay, at least.

A few minor factors arise in terms of morality. The biggest issue, of course, is that you're playing a thief, wandering around a house that doesn't belong to him. Although he doesn't steal much in the game, he revels in his abilities to escape from prisons and stealing things. There are a few instances of blood, including one scene where a spider-like creature actually kills Luppe. There are two vulgarities in the game – h*ll and d*mn – but each word only appears once. Finally, there are references to a demon and demonic possession once you get into the ending portions of the game.

The strongest things about the game are the puzzles (which don't provide much of a challenge, really), and the low price of $2.99. But the simplistic graphics, short gameplay and mediocre story line don't serve as much of an incentive to purchase the game in the first place. Puzzle fans might get a bit of enjoyment in the game, but those looking for a harder challenge or a more in-depth experience may want to pass.

About the Author

J. Todd Cumming

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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