Paperbound Review

Frantic four-player fighting at its finest

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing a PlayStation 4 on

ESRB Everyone 10+ rating

In the midst of a local multiplayer resurgence, Paperbound enters the ring with hopes of having a fighting chance. Let's sharpen our pencils and find out if it's tough enough to be the next knockout couch-filling combat game.

Paperbound screenshot 1
Master Don better hurry before someone catches him!

Although Paperbound may appear simple at first glance, it's actually quite fully featured when it comes to gameplay mechanics. This isn't the sort of fighter where basic concepts like gravity weigh the combatants down. In fact, if the surface curves then you can simply keep running up a wall and across the ceiling. Not only that, you can also reverse gravity by the tap of a button. As you try to wrap your mind around that, I'll just say that it works well enough to make each match a satisfying and crazy experience. Besides this, you have an arsenal that consists of simple melee attacks and throwable ink bombs and scissors. Considering a player perishes after being hit once; you can imagine how these attacks could allow the last place player to catch up in no time at all. To top it off, the controls may take a little time to get used to since this is such an off-the-wall game, but they are intuitive and perfectly suitable for the hectic combat that takes place.

Paperbound looks great with a wide variety of intricately rendered arenas and characters that pop off the screen. However, the characters are small and move incredibly fast so keeping track of them often becomes difficult. This may add to the chaotic fun, but it can also be frustrating when you get eliminated merely because you didn't know where you were. Musically speaking, the dramatic orchestral soundtrack contrasts with the ridiculous gameplay in a way that'll make you smile. Sound effects as melee attacks are thrown aren't anything special but their simplistic repetitiveness actually offers a layer of charm. Overall, it might not blow you away, but it's presented in a manner that clearly enhances the enjoyment to be had.

Paperbound screenshot 2
Why capture the flag when you can capture the quill?

One thing that Paperbound does better than most games in the genre is the readily available variety of content. You can select from seventeen diverse characters that have an assortment of four colours each, eighteen inventive arenas that belong to five unique categories, and tons of options and ways to play. If you're savvy about indie games then you'll recognize that some characters are from games such as VVVVVV, Tumblestone, Cards and Castles, Guacamelee, and Monaco.

Modes are broken up into either free for all matches where up to four players can duke it out and team matches where two or four players can battle each other. You could play three players in a team match, but that's not fair. Of course, computer players can fill the shoes of any missing local players if you wish. Anyway, Classic Versus will have players see who can achieve the most frags, Survival gives players limited health, Long Live The King mode is like a game of tag where one player racks up points while the others try to slay them and take their place, and finally Capture The Quill has two teams of players competing to retrieve their opponents' quill. Seeing as there are ample options to tinker with, there is more than enough variation to keep the game fresh for lengthy play sessions.

It should be mentioned that if you plan on playing Paperbound by yourself then you may not get as much enjoyment out of it. Although you have all of the same content whether you're playing with friends or computer players, there simply aren't any incentives to play solo. This could have been remedied by adding a campaign of sorts or a list of challenges to complete, but instead Paperbound opts to focus on being primarily a multiplayer experience.

Paperbound screenshot 3
Trying to survive is hard enough, but now I can't touch the red bits?

Simply put, if you're in the market for a local multiplayer brawler then you can't do much better than Paperbound with its insanely chaotic matches, ridiculously fun gameplay mechanics, and more variety than you can shake a pencil at. However, loners need not apply.

  • + Thrilling four player competitive action
  • + Intuitive controls and fun gameplay mechanics
  • + Plenty of modes, characters, arenas, and options are a joy to experiment with
  • - Incredibly easy to lose track of your character
  • - Only for local multiplayer gamers since there are no incentives to play by yourself
7.6 out of 10
Gameplay video for Paperbound 2:35

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