April 26, 2012

Blood Bath

Lasting First Impressions of Bloodforge by Climax Group

Bloodforge BoxartHaving had not heard much buzz prior to its release, it was with some trepidation that I loaded up Bloodforge, the second title in Microsoft’s ‘Arcade Next’ XBLA promotion. Proclaiming what was to be its major theme, Bloodforge opens with our protagonist, retired warrior Crom, phlebotomizing a freshly killed deer and slinging it across his shoulders for the brief control tutorial. It was from that moment on that Bloodforge began revealing signs of anemia.

Bloodforge’s hackneyed story follows Crom on his singular mission to exact revenge against Arawn and the other gods after being tricked into killing his wife Alena, and to fulfill his prophesied destiny as Destroyer. Gameplay involves weak/strong combo-centric button mashing with a standard variety of weapons meted out as you progress combined with upgradeable mana-based magic attacks. Crom’s gauntlet collects the blood of defeated enemies, filling a ‘blood bar’ that allows for activation of ‘Berserk Mode’ and visceral ‘Rage Kills’. Does all of this sound familiar? If you’ve played God of War, then it certainly should. However, the similarities did not extend to quality and craftsmanship.

Bloodforge screen 1

Characters movement is frustratingly floaty and the constantly wavering ‘shaky cam’ is practically vomit-inducing. Camera controls are equally terrible, often filling the screen with large pieces of environmental geometry or enemies that completely obscure your view of the action. The practically non-existent targeting system turns the strategy of choosing the enemy on which to hemorrhage your entire blood or mana bar into a veritable crap shoot (instead of reducing that mini-boss to a pool of plasma in a single violent blow, your fury will more often than not instead land on that weak minion that would have only taken two hits to dispatch, leaving you with fully depleted resources and an unscathed and angry mini-boss). Rather than affording the player a sense of empowerment, the excessively sanguinous combat feels like a chore to be completed with tougher enemies simply requiring more time to tenderize. Landing weapon hits lacks any palpable connection and the flow of battle suffered from an underlying arrhythmia due to clumsy combat animations. I did begin to find some enjoyment once equipped with a ponderous warhammer, but the increased number and speed of adversaries staunched that flow. The Unreal-powered visuals may have been impressive if they could be discerned through the desaturated palette of blacks, whites and greys accentuated only by crimson red. The audio was serviceable but the voice acting left something to be desired.

Bloodforge screen 2

While it is an interesting experiment into what is possible in the downloadable space, Bloodforge feels like a low budget God of War clone that would have bled out on retail shelves and still finds itself in need of a transfusion at 1200 MSP.

Climax Group, I gave you an hour and I am NOT IMPRESSED.

About the Author

is an avid gamer on all platforms, unapologetic graphics whore and peripheral junkie. He is also a drummer both electronic and acoustic, a loving husband, and adoring father to two lovely girls. Follow Craig on Twitter as @Talus as he eats sandwiches and posits on the latest inconsequential happenings in the games industry.



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