First impressions are important in life, so when you boot up a game like Blood Knights and it glitches within the first five minutes, things don’t look good. Could the game claw its way back from the brink, or is it a stinker?
Judging by the smell coming off the score of this review, I am afraid that Blood Knights falls into the camp of being one of the lesser games available on download platforms. Knights is an over-the-top dungeon scroller; think Diablo 3, but broken. The heroes consist of a human knight (who is soon turned into a vampire) and the female vampire his soul becomes tethered to. They must work as one to battle both the vampire and human threats that have turned against them.
Blood Knights is not a good game, which is a shame as dungeon crawlers can be a great genre. All the elements are present that make the likes of Baldur’s Gate so fun. There is an abundance of enemies to face, weapons to find or buy, XP points to spend and puzzles to solve. There is no denying that Deck13 have tried to make something that would be relatable to the best in the genre, but only in the sense that it is the ugly step sister that is kept in the cupboard beneath the stairs.
What's going on, too gloomy
One of the major faults is with the stability of the game itself. The camera is erratic at times and is prone to killing you as often as the enemies. Like I mentioned, Blood Knights gave an awful first impression. I started and saw that the game was apparently built with local co-op in mind – excellent. With my co-op partner in toe we started the first level, only for the camera to break irrevocably after 5 minutes. Game breaking broken. We had to restart again and hope that the camera did not decide to remain in one place as we walked off.
Immediately, confidence in the game is shattered and you notice the shabby elements. The camera is poor, the jumping is pathetic (not helped by the fact that you cannot always see where you are meant to be leaping) and it is far too easy to fall off the side of a cliff. More problems? How about the awful voice acting that was painful to listen to and some graphics that are just about passable in 2013. Perhaps the combat could defuse some of my suffering? Simple hack ‘n’ slash elements are almost impossible to mess up and Deck13 don’t. However, they do ruin a lot of the special moves by placing them all over the joypad; RT, LB, X, &, $$, @. More than once I pressed for a special attack and leaped forwards, only to once more fall off the side of a cliff.
Blood Knight contains progression female characters
There are things in Blood Knights that should be praised. The game is improved by playing in co-op; as long as players stick close to one another to prevent camera issues. Solo players will swap between the knight’s melee attacks and the vampire’s ranged. Co-op partners take one character each and this allows for more strategy. This is needed, as the game is quite hard if you do not concentrate. If one player falls, the other can send some of their lifeblood across to resurrect them, thankfully this works when someone has fallen to the bottom of a cliff face.
Perhaps the best element of Blood Knights is that the level design alters slightly if you move between solo and co-op play. Level design and puzzles differ between the two modes forcing you to think as a co-op couple when playing as a duo. However, the overly complex buttons and slightly twitchy nature of the game means that you often send your co-op partner to their untimely (un)death, rather than solving the puzzle as you wished. The lack of online co-op is also a little surprising. There are definite issues with the camera in local co-op; players are meant to spawn to one another if they roam too far apart, but sometimes the camera just gets confused instead. Online may have allowed Deck13 to separate the players more and fix the camera issues.
Which button is turn off the game again?
With so many true classics now available on download services, there is really no reason to pick up Blood Knights. In local co-op you can have fun with the simple dungeon crawl aspects of the game and laughing at the bad voice acting, but would you really buy a game for that? It feels like a game designed for the indie PC market that made its confused way onto console. Trying to mimic the multimillion pound majesty of Diablo 3 is never an easy task; it is a near impossible one when you just don’t have the resources.
Editor's Note: The Co-Optimus Co-Op Review of Blood Knights was based on the XBLA version of the game. A code was provided by the publisher for review purposes.