The Horror! Blood Still has Life Force in It
After playing about five minutes of Blood I was transported back to a time and place some of you may not remember. It was called the mid-90’s, and despite being very young, that didn’t stop older kids from giving me copies of Doom and the sequel. I would play these games for hours, but the one thing I don’t think about when reminiscing is how damn hard these games were. Fact is, I probably used cheat codes. I was seven years old in 1995 and I just wanted to kill stuff. I didn’t care about how I did it or playing the game as intended. Now that I’m older with a much more refined sense of beating games without cheating I’m starting to sympathize with tiny me. Released in 1997 by Monolith Prouductions, Blood is a relentless look back at classic FPS gaming that is frustrating yet totally defies your expectations.
Blood opens with an FMV where your character, Caleb, is apparently betrayed by his master satan guy and he takes your love because motivation in video games…The storyline in most shooters is pretty irrelevant especially in this era, but your character looks like a full grown Blade from the Puppet Master series and laughs like the Cryptkeeper. These reference may be unintentional, but the game is full of quotes and references to horror films. My fan boy nerve was poked walking around the first level and running into the canisters that housed Tarman from Return of the Living Dead. Caleb cackles and spouts one liners as you unleash carnage and hit the action key on certain things. The game’s dark color palate and premise is cut with little jokes here and there such as a jukebox that plays people screaming.
First thing you will notice about Blood is that it looks exactly like a Doom clone. Could be quake, could be Unreal (If you squint?). Sure, it plays like that style of FPS in the sense that you use the arrow keys to move and Ctrl to fire your weapons. You pick up keys and push buttons to get to the exit of each level, but unlike the run-and-gun style of Doom/Quake, ammo is scarce and every single enemy will murder the pants off you immediately. I was playing on the middle difficulty which made me feel like I‘ve been spoiled over the years with newer shooters.
First level of first mission I was armed with a pitchfork and a zombie rose up out of his grave wielding an axe. Naturally, I ran full bore into him with the intention of poking that bastard back to hell. That interaction cost me about 75 percent of my health as he hacked the shit out of me. I kept walking and finally picked up a gun. The flare gun made me think it would be your basic pistol but again I was wrong. I kept unloading the flare gun into a zombie only to realize he wasn’t going down and got hacked to pieces. A few moments later he burst into flames and died. The gun was powerful, but I didn’t realize how it was intended to be used. My next lesson came in the form of death. The game doesn’t auto save and let me tell you I forgot to save many times. In Blood, every enemy killed feels like a victory and after playing for a few hours I had it drilled tightly into my skull that every time you clear a room save the fucking game or you will want to smash your computer. The focus became clear after realizing I had only cleared two levels after an hour or so. In Blood you’re not looking to get a rocket launcher and take out entire armies, you’re given a small amount of ammo and you have to decide what weapon is necessary and take your time. It’s not a stealth game or anything, but run and gun means death.
Blood probably lived up to its name when it came out. Enemies die with heads popping off and red pixels flying all over the place a la Sam Raimi. If you bump into their bodies once in a while a head will go flying across the screen. The other cool thing about Blood is the weapons. There aren’t many but you get the aforementioned pitchfork, TNT, flare gun, and your standard shotgun, but there are also Voodoo dolls and other neat little ways to butcher your foes. The level designs are pretty cool as well. Hospitals filled with demons, old churches, graveyards, trains, and other inspired and unique areas to cruise through.
It’s hard to look at Blood from the context of that era, but now that we have free-look aiming and better graphics, but Blood is very unique in the lineup of gory 2D character model 3D background shooters. It has its moments of annoying glitches but runs fairly well for an older game. My favorite issue was when I’d try to throw dynamite into rooms without the enemies seeing me. You can see the models but they weren’t activated because I wasn’t close enough. This gave me little choice but to get shot up a bit before being able to attack them. Otherwise, I’d toss my TNT, hit them directly in the face, and they’d stay standing.
Blood isn’t for everyone, I can acknowledge my nostalgia pants are on for this era. That makes it harder for me to see the flaws but I know this isn’t the game to show younger gamers if you’re looking to represent this type of shooter. The save spamming necessity and constant dying will drive most people up a wall. Still, There hasn’t been a horror based game like this in years, and if you’re looking for a good throwback to early FPS games with a different style of game play Blood is definitely recommended.
Final Verdict 4/5
Available on: PC (Reviewed); Publisher: GT Interactive; Developer: Monolith Games; Players: 1; Released: May, 31 1997; Genre: First Person Shooter; MSRP: $4.99 on Steam
This review is based on a review copy of Blood: One Unit Whole Blood purchased by Hey Poor Player.