Violence, Gore, Vampires, Frustration and Absurdity. These my friends, are the words that appear spin around in my head as I play this game. It’s a game about vampires ladies and gentlemen, probably one of my most hated genre of anything. Videogames, Movies, Novels, Comics etc. And in light of that thought I sit here wondering was I the right person chosen to review this game? I’d say yes, although I detest anything vampire these days, for some reason when I started this game on my Xbox 360 I had high hopes. But over the course of my life I’ve noticed that people like dashing my hopes at every turn, and here is the game Blood Knights, to dash those hopes again.
Someone needs to make vampires feared ruthless killers that wage war against mankind again. If we do anymore of this romantic glittery-skin crap I’d have to say I’m out. When I started up Blood Knights I didn’t even know the game was about vampires. When I first heard the word uttered mid game I say oh cool it’s a vampire game and it sounds violent! No Robert Pattison-Tom Foolery here! This simple aspect gave me hopes for the game, and then I got to level 2, and then everything became apparent. As high as my hopes were, they were soon dashed with the typical “what the F%*&? ” moment.
Blood knights is game about a human and vampire who are bonded together by a priest’s spell to attempt to obtain the blood seal. So the primary objective of the game seems simple, obtain the seal, save the world. What seems like a simple task is riddled with mediocre gameplay, loose plot and worst of all difficulty.
Graphics/Sound: in terms of graphics I’m going to have to praise the developers on this one, the overall level design while kind of simple and linear is very pleasing to look at from an artistic standpoint. The theme of the levels are similar to that which you would see in a typical Medieval-like RPG. The first thing I thought of when I saw this game for the first time was Diablo 3 and KOA: Reckoning. The primary characters Jeremy and Alysa are designed pretty well too, Alysa actually looks like an attractive/deadly vampires you’d see in a scary movie. (I’d hit it, even if she would bite me). Sadly though great artwork and attractive Alysa will not carry this game all the way through. The sound needs some slight improvements. I was sad when I started level 2 and there was no background music to fit the mood, music later entered the scene but felt like it was too late. The music in this game seems fitting for the most part but the music doesn’t start up and stop at the correct times. For example when you die, the same music plays continuously in the background and continues plays and then you come back to life. Seems like a very small thing I know, but creating the perfect setting is the key to creating the perfect game. The majority of the smaller sounds work well though, the slashes of your swords, arrows flying across the map, and growling of all sorts of monsters sounds great. The main weakness in sound is the voice acting, it feels like random people were given a script and were told to speak into the mic. The voice acting only sounds slightly believable, which makes a lot of the dialogue come off as cheesy and boring. For example there is a scene where the vampires got away with the blood seal, convince me with the emotion in your words that this actually big deal. In another example the priest kicks the main character off of a cliff at the beginning of the game. A scene that I’m sure was made to be serious became laughable because of the poor dialogue following the “this is Sparta” kick to Jeremy’s chest which sends him flying over the edge in hilarious manner. From there it doesn’t get any better, you have enemies and allies repeating the same lines over and over, which in most cases I’m easily willing to overlook but they just repeat them so damn much. It drives me nuts. Even worse than that, the conversations between the two main characters is often too simple. Every conversation is similar, Alysa is a smart ass because she knows all the info about the vampires and Jeremy seems like the brute dumbass because he doesn’t all the info in the world about vampires. BUT WAIT EVAN! Alysa is a vampire and Jeremy is human! How can they be bonded together if their people are at war with each other? Is it a twilight love story? Hell no, and if it was it’d be better love story than twilight. I’m getting ahead of myself though….moving on.
(I’d still hit it)
Story: I typically review story last, but this needs to happen now. The story of this game leaves much to be asked for. Truth be told the game is an arcade game so I feel like I’m being hard on it, but I’m going to critique this game just as any other. The story is kind of simple and bland, slash your way through enemies to a boss blocking your next objective. Eventually through this repetitive process you will level up, earn armor, etc and get to final boss and take back the blood seal. The tale is one of the journey of two heroes and truth be told it isn’t half bad it just needs to be better executed by the voice actors. The problems within this story lie within the prologue to game. You have the vampires and the humans who hate each other because they aren’t the same race of people and they have different agendas. The game starts with a team of knights who sadly suck at their jobs attempting to get the blood seal back. The priest who is for some reason leading this campaign takes the captain (Jeremy) and bonds him to a vampire (Alysa). He does this in hopes that the two of them will beat the vampire’s queen. So here’s my first problem, if vampires and humans hate each other, why is this one random vampire travelling with them to take down the vampires? She is a vampire! You begin to think oh well she is a defector of war, she works with the humans now. No she still hates humans. So the whole beginning of the game is one big ball of confusion. If that wasn’t bad enough, non-fluid Segways from gameplay to cut scenes confuses you even more leaving you feeling like what the hell is going on right now? First I was fighting the end of a boss battle with the queen then a random cut scene appears with the queen killing me. And the feeling I get from that is, how the hell did I get here? Everything was fine just a minute ago! I feel like I’m making this worse than this sounds, although rather simple story it isn’t that bad. There is enough confusion and mystery to keep me playing the game, I want to see how it all ends, I want see how the interpersonal relationship between the two main characters develops. Does Alysa finally get smart enough to kill Jeremy? Do they somehow fall in love? Can the war of the humans and vampires be solved through their love? Truth be told I don’t think I’m ever going to know, because as much as the story should put me through the game, the gameplay stops me at every corner.
Gameplay: every area of this game needs improvement, all of the pieces work. But they need some….well um work. Gameplay though is the one department where this game truly fails. The words absurdity, frustration, and gore come from here. The game has plenty of blood and people dying, but this cannot make up for everything else. Where do I start? The block button. If you are a character that can attack you need to also have some type of defense. The blood shield comes later in the game for you to have but you need it from the very beginning. You can’t block any attacks of the enemies coming your way, that means anyone swinging any weapon in your direction or throwing anything in your direction is about to have a field day on your ass. At first this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but by the time you get to werewolves you’re pretty pissed. So let’s not look at the blocking for a moment, what’s another way to avoid enemies? Dodge roll! No you don’t get that, instead we will give you the ability to jump. So here you are, running around with low health unable to block, jumping around like an idiot trying not to get hit, attempting to think of a strategy that won’t get you killed. It takes away so much from the gameplay and just frustrates me.
So it sounds like health is the issue right? Well the developers thought they would be able to solve that problem with the vampire-blood sucking ability. In short, they failed. First of all visually the blood sucking ability sucks (no pun intended). Instead of leaping and biting onto some victims neck, you Darth Vader force lift your victim mid-air and drain their blood magically through their body to yours in a processing I’m just going to chalk up to diffusion/osmosis. And this all happens in slow motion in attempt to make it cool and give your character an advantage over the enemies. That advantage is easily taken away when you get hit by a rock and die from an enemy or when you find out that you don’t obtain much health from the majority of enemies you drain. So you can’t block (until you get the blood shield), you can’t dodge roll, the difficulty is obviously present, the health is lacking, it can’t get much worse right? Just keep reading.
To add to the situation of health, the game puts these guys impaled on stakes that you can drain for health. Which in my opinion is just plain old silly, I would have rather approved of picking up green health orbs from dead bodies than this. You gain a lot of health from these guys but the concept is just absurd. I mean really? Someone made specially made stakes for vampires all over the continent and then impaled humans to a point in which they would bleed but not die so vampires could suck their blood when they needed a quick health boost? You’ve got to be kidding me.
Unless you’re playing multiplayer mode, playing as Jeremy is completely pointless. His attacks are all close range and weak. The spinning attack is his most useful but doesn’t help the situation really, it really just delays it. If you play as dumb Jeremy long enough you’re bound to see the “defeated” sign appear on your screen just as it has mine multiple times. Playing as Alysa is the better choice which is sad, since that type of gameplay has me backpedal-shooting twin crossbows in gigantic circles because the enemies can’t catch me and anything being thrown I can easily see because I’m constantly moving (talk about a run on sentence). As well I can always find unfair corners or high places I can shoot from and the enemies are left helpless. Don’t get me started on boss fights, the first major one was a repetitive process of trying to kill this vampire who would heal herself every time you did significant damage. How did she heal herself? By the process of diffusion of blood from the random human on the stake. Maybe if this game wasn’t as difficult as it is I could overlook a lot of this stuff but simply I cannot. This is a game that needs much work in the gameplay department. There are various items and skill trees you can work with but why even discuss that when they game doesn’t even have the basics down. Instead of fun, you get frustration and challenge. I like challenge in a game, but I also like fairness. Which is something this game is definitely lacking. I feel like I could go on for days about this gameplay, I could talk about the absurdity that some enemies are throwing torches at me, not fire arrows, but torches. Who the hell throws torches? Or the fact that vampires die in water? Since when do vampires die in water? Not holy water, I’m talking about river water, ocean water, drinking water. And that would have been nice to know before I accidentally fell off a cliff and fell into water. Don’t fall off of cliffs you say? Well I wouldn’t if the actual jump movement controls were more solid. What happened to garlic and sunlight? What happened to only operating in the night? If water kills vampire why don’t humans just win this war with a super-soaker? There is so much more to say but I feel like I’ve said enough.
Multiplayer: 5/10 (It makes the game a bit easier with a friend but not by much)
Sum it up in one word: Frustrating