Scalebound's Middling Reception Suggests Platinum Has Work to do Before 2017

Platinum's Xbox One exclusive lands with a dull thud at E3 2016.

Article by Kat Bailey, .

We're at E3 this week, covering the year's biggest gaming event. Be sure to check out all our coverage on our E3 2016 hub!

The complaints started almost as soon as Scalebound's Microsoft press conference demo concluded.

"Scalebound looks like they tried to merge gameplay from 3-4 games into a single clunky mess," wrote one NeoGAF poster. The comments continued along those lines: dreadful, obnoxious, lacking in energy—not exactly adjectives you would associate with a Platinum game.

Most of the disappointment has centered around the main character—a surprisingly generic figure who has Dante's wit but is otherwise unremarkable. Curiously, he actually resembles the Dante from the DMC remake, who was similarly derided by fans before finally being accepted, mostly because the game itself turned out to be pretty good. It's certainly not a given that Scalebound will go through a similar arc.

Scalebound was supposed to be salvation in a way for both Microsoft and Platinum. For Microsoft, it was an exclusive game by a studio with an impeccable reputation among core gamers. For Platinum, it was an opportunity to get a game onto a platform with a larger install base than the Wii U and score a sales success. It may still live up to expectations; but based on the initial reaction, it's in for an uphill climb.

My suspicion is that this is less to do with the actual quality of the game and more to do with how it's presented. The boss battle shown at Microsoft's press event was based on Scalebound's multiplayer mode, which is comparatively new territory for Platinum. What's more, Scalebound will purportedly be more of an action RPG than a pure action game like Bayonetta, which may explain why it feels a bit less flashy than other Platinum offerings.

Still, if Platinum wants Scalebound to be an action RPG, they will face some formidable competition. Among other games, comparisons to Dark Souls will be inevitable, and it's bound to look bad on that front. A less obvious example is Dragon's Dogma, which flew under the radar when it was first released but recently enjoyed a prominent release on the PC. Both games are known for fights with giant monsters, most of which are far more compelling than the giant crab monster featured in Scalebound.

I think Scalebound's biggest problem right now is that it just doesn't pop in the same way as most Platinum Games. It feels like wild art of Bayonetta and its ilk has been deliberately toned, perhaps to appeal to western audiences. There are some distinctly Platinum touches—the main character wearing headphones, not to mention the wisecrack-laden dialogue—but it still looks surprisingly bland. If anything, it looks something out of the last generation of action games, which were infamously derided for being grey and uninteresting.

Obviously, I'm certainly not going to write-off Scalebound based on one middling E3 showing. After all, this is Platinum we're talking about; and while they've moved troublingly toward licensed games and contract work, they've still managed to maintain a certain level of quality. I'm curious to see what Scalebound's dedicated single-player mode looks like, as well as whether its RPG trappings are more than skin deep.

But first impressions are always tough to shake, and the initial reception suggests that Scalebound isn't living up to expectations. Platinum has some work to do before 2017.

We're at E3 this week, covering the year's biggest gaming event. Be sure to check out all our coverage on our E3 2016 hub!

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Comments 16

  • Avatar for VotesForCows #1 VotesForCows A year ago
    Don't have an XB1, but would love this to do well - action games need Platinum to be in a healthy state!Edited June 2016 by VotesForCows
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  • Avatar for kevinbowyer34 #2 kevinbowyer34 A year ago
    Surprise, a distinctly Japanese developer alters it's design mentality to chase western sales, loses the flair that made them noticed in the first place, competes in a genre thats bloated on a device thats filled with that genre to the brim. Sales dont hit, reception doesnt hit, reviews dont hit.

    Anyone that decries this method, who owns a Wii U, who didnt buy Bayonetta 2 or Wonderful 101 can get bent. People buy brown and gray its the gaming world we live in.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #3 Kuni-Nino A year ago
    See, I just saw a boss fight and it looked like a multi-tiered boss fight that only Platinum makes these days. If you played W101 or even Bayonetta, you kind of know this is their thing: PG loves set pieces and spectacular sequences that look great. The difference here is that the entire sequence was co-op and the dragon stuff transformed the game into a shooter which kind of marries Kamiya's action games passions with the shooter passions he has.

    This is but just one facet of the game, like I said earlier. This game is supposed to be an action rpg kind of in the vein of Okami, I think, but more geared towards the type of open world that exists today.

    I'll give you the protag criticisms. I wish it were a custom made character tbh if I'm going to be playing co-op. Custom characters just lend themselves better to multiplayer games. But everything else? I fail to see what's the difference between this boss fight and, say, the prologue in Bayonetta 2. Everybody creamed themselves when Bayo was fighting a demon on a skyscraper and that was less mechanically involved than what we saw in Scalebound.
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  • Avatar for Darkarm66 #4 Darkarm66 A year ago
    Kamiya has never directed a game I didn't enjoy and I really don't think that streak will be broken.
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  • Avatar for Darkarm66 #5 Darkarm66 A year ago
    And if E3 hype was a really good barometer to go by, we'd still be playing Evolve
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  • Avatar for TheWildCard #6 TheWildCard A year ago
    I'd never totally write off a big budget Platinum project, but two underwhelming showing in a row doesn't give a great impression.
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  • Avatar for greenhornet214 #7 greenhornet214 A year ago
    I thought it looked kind of cool....
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  • Avatar for docexe #8 docexe A year ago
    It’s not only the character design or the art style (which does look generic when compared to other fantasy games). It’s painful to say about a Platinum game, but that boss fight did looked... well, kind of boring. Simply put, as a set-piece, it honestly was lacking compared to the boss fights in many other Platinum games. It just didn’t look as kinetic in terms of the action or as over the top and surreal in terms of the concept and setting. The only particularly impressive thing was the size of the boss.

    Mind you, even taking those criticisms into account, I think it’s too early to write off the game. What was shown about the overall mechanics of Scalebound looks very promising: The mix of melee combat with long-range attacks, the aerial combat on your dragon, the “super mode” of sorts where the character gains an armor, the possibility to cling to parts of the enemy and attack for massive damage ala Shadow of the Colossus. I also liked the interplay between the rider and his dragon, which reminds me of How to Train your Dragon in the best way.

    Still, I think they probably should have shown another trailer after the demo with more information about the single player campaign, probably showcasing more set-pieces as well. In any case, I still have faith in Kamiya so here is hoping his team delivers another great game.
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  • Avatar for The-Challenger #9 The-Challenger A year ago
    I think that was the same giant Spider from GoW3 and FFX, it gets around.
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  • Avatar for jihon83 #10 jihon83 A year ago
    This is further proof that Jet Set Radio Future was a rare beast, insofar as it may have been the rare game where the protoganist wasn't a douchebag once they donned headphones. That said, I am glad this is a Platinum game; if it was a Grasshopper project, the protagonist might just be a Super Sonico knockoff.
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  • Avatar for LBD_Nytetrayn #11 LBD_Nytetrayn A year ago
    I wouldn't mark this as a bad first impression, simply because it wasn't my first impression. That was the trailer from two years ago that read "cross between How to Train Your Dragon and Mega Man by way of Platinum" to me, and I'm still looking forward to that game.

    Multiplayer is a hard sell for me anyway, and while this is no different in that regard, I was happy to see more of the game.
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  • I actually LIKE the game's aesthetic, but I also liked NuDante and so merging that with a sort of weird "How To Train Your Dragon" vibe is interesting. Is the criticism actually based in gameplay or is it simply vocal people with differing tastes?

    I get the feeling Platinum has, thanks to Bayonetta, a bunch of followers who are fans of the DMC genre and are still-sour about that reboot.
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  • Avatar for Micheal-Ethan #13 Micheal-Ethan A year ago
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