Trung Bui of Game Rant reviews Bloodforge
Sometimes, the sheer joy of a hack-and-slash game is just what the doctor ordered. Microsoft Game Studios, in partnership with Climax Group unveils Bloodforge where one stag-skull wearing muscled-out dude, wielding very large weapons, is pit against hordes of Celtic-inspired foes.
It’s relatively brainless, requires very little skill, but it’s immensely fun.
Bloodforge tells the story of Crom the Destroyer, a barbarian who leads a simple life of hunting giant deer to bring back to his wife. Long ago, Crom gave up a life of battle to settle down. Unfortunately, the universe has much different plans for Crom and, after the murder of his wife, he returns to his barbaric ways and takes the measures to inflict revenge on those who wronged him. Thus, setting in motion the player’s journey across the game’s six worlds and shedding a whole lot of blood.
The combat in Bloodforge can best be described as visceral and bloody. It’s almost certain to say Climax Group was inspired by the Ninja Gaiden series – especially the second iteration. The X and Y buttons are designated as light and heavy attacks, respectively. Similar to Ninja Gaiden, there are pre-built combos for three different weapons: A greatsword, a greathammer, and a set of claws made out of large bones. Each weapon has their own attributes, the sword is fast and deals decent damage, the hammer is slow but powerful, and the claws are quick but also the weakest. Bloodforge doesn’t penalize the player for preferring one weapon over another but, since it’s the most balanced, players will likely gravitate toward the sword more than anything else.
Since Crom is a barbarian, it should be expected that he does have a “rage” mechanic that ups damage and slows down time as well. The meter is built up by killing foes throughout the game in either regular fashion or performing certain instant-kill moments – when the enemy is “dazed.” When a green swirl appears over an enemy’s head, pressing Y will allow Crom to dispatch the enemy in a spectacularly bloody fashion. It’s doesn’t happen as often as the Ninja Gaiden 2 Obliteration Technique, but is still a great addition to reward players with some extra violence.
Included in the combat are a number of runes that will also bolster Crom’s fighting abilities. One acts as a constant damage field to hurt enemies surrounding Crom, another casts lightning, and the last grapples opponents to create an easier opportunity for attack. The runes can be used to activate abilities or, while holding the Right Trigger, Crom can deliver a single devastating attack to weaken stronger enemies.
Speaking of enemies – there’s not much variety. The groups are broken up into menial hack and slash fodder, somewhat larger mini-boss entities, and full-fledged bosses. Since Crom does not block, evading attacks is done with a pull of the Left Trigger, allowing him to dodge-roll. Enemy attacks are easy to see coming and players shouldn’t have too hard a time dodging. Every enemy has an attack pattern that can be recognized within a few seconds, which can be helpful. For the less attentive, certain enemies often glow white before they execute a particularly damaging attack.
The visuals in Bloodforge are something that will resonate with fans of 300. The color pallette is very dark and evokes heavy inking. It is a very complimentary choice to the game’s overall theme of telling a dark tale of revenge. Unreal Engine is the force behind the scenes and, at times, the engine shows its age. There were moments during gameplay where lag or pop-up appeared that could affect gameplay – or, at the very least, take the player out of the action.
There is voice acting in Bloodforge for major characters and it’s actually quite good for a XBLA title. It’s a bit hammy, but considering the game’s mission of “kill kill kill”, it’s not too distracting and might even remind some folks of Arnold’s performance (or lack thereof) in the Conan films. Other sound effects were a bit underwhelming. Sword slicing or hammer crushing just don’t sound very powerful.
Bloodforge could become a bit boring for players seeking a deep action game. Combat is fun and watching Crom dismantle enemies with steel or rock will satisfy a player’s inner barbarian. Healing items are made available throughout each level, and are hidden off the beaten (with blood, literally) path – but unless used wisely, players might be repeating an area over and over again.
Healing is especially important because there are certain portions of the game that, quite literally, will require the player to use health items – a choice that will, no doubt, prove to be frustrating to some players. At one point, Crom faces a boss that isn’t particularly hard but employs an attack that cannot be avoided and will always cause damage to the player (even though it was only little bit). A little bit of damage adds up over a long time and made the fight a lot more frustrating and annoying than it should have been.
Bloodforge is a single player game, but there is a competitive element present. Using the Blood Duel feature, players can challenge one another to beat high scores in certain sections of the game. Challenges are also available to create and participate in, i.e. players participate in a wave-completion arena event with leaderboards.
If you’re in the mood for a somewhat mindless action game that delivers on gore and violence, Bloodforge will not disappoint. Barring its few problems, the game is fun and a competent creation from Climax Group. If you’re still on the fence – be sure to check out the demo.
Bloodforge is available now for Xbox 360 for 1600 MS Points.
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