In JB Gaming's RPG adventure Beast Bound, free for iOS and Android, you and your sassy floating cat-panion Cappi have been struggling to get by as monster hunters on the island of Manaden, but you don't exactly have the best reputation, so the bills (and pizza boxes) have been piling up, not to mention you're constantly being shown up by the rude (and incompetent) local hero Sky and his "friends". You manage to pick up some work clearing low level beasties for a local farmer when you stumble across a strange contraption that seems to be pumping mana straight out of the earth, and a strange folder inside it you can't manage to open. What are the chances you've just stumbled across a threat to the world that you'll have to stop, d'you suppose? You'll explore the island finding treasure and duking it out with monsters in a vaguely Super Mario RPG-esque turn-based battle system. Back at your cramped and dirty headquarters, you can decorate, clean up, craft potions and more. With simple to master gameplay and a beautiful style housing wonderfully funny dialogue, Beast Bound is a light-hearted and nostalgic RPG adventure for just about anyone, despite some rough edges.
Tongue firmly planted in cheek, Beast Bound is a cheerfully silly and surprisingly witty game, thanks in part to some great writing and the immense likability of your opportunistic pal Cappi. Visually the game is a treat... the colours spring off the spring, character design is expressive and quirky, and gameplay is a breeze to pick up. It's a shame that so much of the worldbuilding is relegated to the official website, since the story and characters are definitely the stars here, and more screentime with them would have been fantastic. Beast Bound feels very authentic in a way that fans of classic console RPGs will appreciate, and it's the sort of game that makes you want to kick back and sink an afternoon into like you were when you were a kid and really should be finishing up that book report, but just one more boss.
What Beast Bound desperately needs, however, is variety and polish, with gameplay that starts to feel a little too simple and repetitive, and combat that also at times is unbalanced. Damage can vary wildly both dealt and received to the exact same enemy, while the treasures you find are so random as to be unhelpful, with the in-game player shops rarely stocked to offset it. While there are unskippable in-game video ads, however, they're short and infrequent (always heralded by the ad-slinging ghost), and in-app purchases are mostly cosmetic. I say "mostly" being that you can also buy diamonds to speed up tasks or get more potions, but it doesn't feel necessary or pressured. Its developer seems to be actively soliciting feedback, working with players to quash bugs and balance things, which is always great to see, and there's no denying that Beast Bound definitely feels like a labour of love. If you want an RPG that won't demand anything from you but a sense of humour, Beast Bound is worth checking out. Despite its flaws and simplicity, it's bright, colourful, and merrily funny in a way I wish more games were.