When I booted up Blood Knights, I had no clue as to what this game would be. I figured it would be a standard hack ‘n slash brawler with some throwaway story and bland visuals while mixing in vampire lore and bad voice acting. Somehow, I guessed that flawlessly by just reading the title and looking at the digital box art. Well, I guess my review is over. Wait, I have to write more? OK…fine. Here’s Blood Knights.
Blood Knights tells the story of Jeremy. Jeremy is a vampire hunter working for a holy order. The leader of the order has spiritually bounded a vampire named Alysa to Jeremy to use as a guide through the treacherous quest to hunt down and destroy all vampires in the land. On a mission, Jeremy is turned into one of his sworn enemies and is left for dead by his human brethren. Now, he and Alysa must travel the land in search for the order’s leader and do something. Yeah, I’m making this more dramatic than it is. I really can’t remember what the story was trying to do.
Staying true to the hack ‘n slash nature, the game features a combo system with a very simplistic layout. Jeremy will string together attacks using X. He can also use special attacks like the heavy and a whirlwind attack that both require a cool down before use again. Players can switch to Alysa on the fly by hitting Y. She uses dual crossbows that fire constantly at enemies. She also has special attacks that consist of throwing grenades and using fire arrows.
The game breaks down into levels the two characters traverse. It all revolves around the same thing. Some platforming mixed in with a lot of pop-up enemies that players slaughter. Then move on the next area and do it again. Occasionally, I ran into simple puzzles and traps that require a bit of precision jumping but it’s never revolutionary or difficult. In fact, for the most part, the entire experience was a cake walk.
There are some RPG elements thrown in as well, but it feels almost unnecessary. I ran into numerous chests that contained new equipment I could place on both my characters. Every time I found a chest, which happens every five minutes or so, it would contain a weapon or piece of armor that was an improvement from what I had equipped. I’m talking EVERYTHING I found. There was no trade off for buffs or powers, it was always better. The same goes for the leveling system.
Since this is a level-driven game, I had to kill every enemy in the level so I was going to gain that experience no matter what. So what was the point of leveling up? Why not just have me play the level without saying “Oh, look, you got more powerful.” No, I just slashed my way through it. YOU said I got more powerful. When leveling up, I was able to put a point into perks for both characters. These make certain attacks stronger or may allow attacks to stun or knock back enemies. There are also coins hidden in every level. Collecting five of these will allow the player to upgrade one attribute for each character.
There are certain areas in the game that allow the characters to shop for equipment. Here is where players will get the full variety of weapons and armor that they can compare, but don’t get too excited. After another 30 minutes, I always found yet another better item waiting in a random chest on the battlefield.
Since they are vampires, they can suck the blood out of skewered humans spread throughout the levels as well as drain some blood out of enemies using a special force grab straight out of Star Wars. This grab can also be used to move things in the environment to uncover new paths.
The voice acting and visuals all fall into the same category: bland. Some actors do a decent job, but I ran into a few that sounded like they were reading their script rather than acting it out. The graphics are what anyone would come to expect of an isometric view XBLA title. They look like late PS2 graphics. The soundtrack is a bit of a standout. It does a decent job fitting with the overall feel, and even has a few fine scores.
Now, I don’t want readers thinking I’m trashing on this game. Truth be told, it is an OK brawler. The combos work for the most part and the platforming is fine. It’s not like this is a glitchy game, it’s just such a standard experience. The RPG elements are there but never really offer up much choice. The story is forgettable, and the voice acting is bad in some cases, but it doesn’t take away from the experience that much. Granted, it doesn’t last too long. I clocked in at around four and a half hours by the time the credits rolled. Also fifteen dollars for an RPG-lite hack ‘n slash may be asking too much.
Blood Knights is one of those games you’ll see one day for a ten dollar discount and say “Yeah, I’ll try it out.” And when you do, you may gather a bit of enjoyment out of it, but for fifteen bucks, this mediocre experience may be better off with the vampires for now.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.