Blood will flow.
Wow, has it really been more than two decades since the original Blood released? I remember downloading and playing the demo as a wee lad in high school. But it’s true: this game is old enough to be able to buy alcohol in many countries. However, unlike its popular Build engine brethren, Blood has lacked the re-release treatment. Until now.
Blood: Fresh Supply is the old classic we all know and love, brought back to life just like its smart-mouthed protagonist. This is courtesy of the ever-illustrious Nightdive Studios, who have done similar treatment to the Turok and Forsaken games. To Nightdive Studios: we salute you and your diligence in pulling classic games out of legal limbo! But, we can’t be presumptuous enough to assume that such an old game can cut it for a modern audience. So how does Blood: Fresh Supply work out as a game and as a remaster?
Blood is not really thicker than water.
If you’re not familiar with the gist of Blood, here’s the deal-io: you are placed firmly in the boots of one Caleb, who is a raspy-voiced gunslinger from the old west. Caleb, his lover Ophelia, and a couple of other friends were members of the cult of Tchernobog, who the ancient Slavs worshiped as the zombie god and lord of death. As dark gods tend to do, Tchernobog betrays and murders his loyal followers, much to Caleb’s horror and disgust. Still fused with hate and rage over the fact that his devotion was rewarded with death, Caleb rises from his own grave and sets off on a mission of retribution to commit deicide. Technically a zombie, Caleb doesn’t mind slaughtering the zombie minions and cult leaders of Tchernobog. In fact, he seems to almost look forward to it.
To the player, this amounts to traversing dozens of levels set in dark temples, graveyards, mansions, and other classical horror tropes. True to its name, things get extremely bloody as Caleb proceeds to slaughter his enemies with a positively wicked arsenal. Besides the usual shotguns and tommy guns, Caleb has access to various types of dynamite and aerosol cans as makeshift flamethrowers. Later weapons are far more esoteric, such as voodoo dolls, a modified Tesla coil, and a sorcerous staff topped with a human skull. These weapons tend to be a tad on the more gimmicky side, but they still function well and its immensely satisfying and fun to use them. And little has changed since their original incarnation. In fact, not much of the game at all has changed since its 1997 debut. This is a most conservative port, but that’s actually a good thing.
Blood supply. And demand.
The full original game is present and accounted for. Included are the original five episodes, plus the sixth “Post Mortem” episode that was included in the Plasma Pak. Not only that, but Cryptic Passage features as well. Cryptic Passage was developed by a third party, Sunstorm Interactive, and features a slightly different atmosphere and style than the original game. And of course, other unofficial third-party content is supported too. This allows players to dig into the game’s extensive 20+ year catalogue of fan-created content. One in particular that comes highly recommend is the awesome Death Wish set of levels. It’s a package of three additional episodes which push the original game’s engine to its limits while remaining true to the original’s atmosphere and design philosophy. Be sure to get it hereabouts.
But I digress. At the end of the day, Blood: Fresh Supply is just what fans have been wanting. It’ll please long-time fans and potential newcomers with a taste for archaic FPSes will love to cut their teeth on it. It’s brutally hard, it’s gory as hell, and it’s positively charming with its dour malevolence.
Blood: Fresh Supply is exactly what you’d expect from a re-release. It runs on modern operating systems, it supports widescreen resolutions and mouselook, it includes all the expansions, and it has just a few tiny touches to make it slightly more in line with its modern contemporaries. Though initially buggy, the developers worked hard to resolve these problems and are responsive to complaints and issues. As it stands, Blood: Fresh Supply is without a doubt the definitive version of this landmark title, and completes the remakes of the “unholy trinity” of Build games, along Duke Nukem 3D and Shadow Warrior. Raise bloody hell by snagging your copy here. You’ll laugh. You’ll scream. You’ll die. A lot. But you’ll take a lot of evil jerks with you.
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
Available on: PC (Steam) ; Publisher: Nightdive Studios, Atari ; Developer: Nightdive Studios, Monolith Productions ; Players: single-player, multiplayer (deathmatch and co-op) ; Released: the 9th of May, 2019.
Full disclosure: this review is based on a Steam key for Blood: Fresh Supply purchased by the reviewer.