Bloodforge

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Bloodforge
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Bloodforge
Action
Xbox Live Arcade
Reviews based on the XBLA version
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Climax Studios
Release Date: April 25th, 2012
Achievement Guide Available
Bloodforge is the story of Crom, a man who left behind the wars of his clan to established a family. While out hunting for food, he passes out, viewing a nightmare unlike that of the battles which replay in his sleep. When he awakes, he finds his village under attack, and his wife calling out to him. Having no other choice, he slays the invaders in his path in hopes to save her, but soon finds he was tricked. Now he is on a quest in this God of War clone, seeking revenge against the diety responsible.

The game does have it’s perks to seperate it from every other clone out there, actively paying homage and respect to it while still utilizing the same engine and coding, as well as gameplay foundations. The story is devised into six different worlds including the tutorial, and one boss per each. The foes are nicely varied, ranging from gigantic gods to human-sized ones, utilizing very simple patterns with wide attack ranges that can still cause a sizeable amount of damage and technicality to avoid. The artwork through all of these takes on a dirty, gritty look unlike the aforementioned source material and it’s crisp, modern stylish clarity. The harsh artistic style is colorful, yet melancholic and dismal throughout each stage, but due to how everything looks the same in most stages, it becomes easy to get lost in larger areas, especially when the camera does point the way forward after a random battle. This is more obvious at the end when the final boss sends everything in monochromatic hues of gray, black and white. The art is met with a subtle orchestral composition, a toned down version of what Symphonic Black Metal groups may offer today. While in the game, you tend to not notice it, as the score never really stands out and is often a little more on the quiet side. However, during cinematic scenes it shine, working with the tension of the characters, or becomes louder during battles, making things a little more ominous.

One of the biggest drawbacks to this title is the camera, which single handedly makes this title insanely frustrating. First of all it’s a constant shakey cam with every step you take. Had some restraint been used, mixing it with clean camera work and using this during more intense moments in the game, it wouldn’t get so old as quick as it does. It’s annoying to have to constantly slightly shift to the left just when walking straight thanks to the angle it’s at. You can easily be stuck in many spots from it, much like the large breakable stone walls in the Land of the Dead stage if you kick them open. It makes it tougher in battle too, especially here since it can be stuck looking at the inside and a little in front. Sometimes it also auto corrects itself or doesn’t move at all, or zooming in mid-fight, hiding enemies and making you waste precious time shifting it to avoid getting hit or losing the combo counter, which happens more times than not. One of the big perks are the Rage (interactive cinematic) and stun (cinematic) kills that are violent, gruesome death scenes in the form of dismemberments, bludgeonings, or stabbings, but sometimes it will get lost and look at a mountain range or trees instead of the killing, or place the characters nowhere near one another when you execute the final normal move when the victim is stunned. You can randomly find it spazzing out in tighter corridors, moving in whirlwind manner while jerking left and right repeatedly, giving gamers a bad case of motion sickness. But, on top of that the game will often freeze in mid battle with each blow for a few seconds until the combo is finished. While not a camera issue, it still is another fault that should have been addressed in quality control. None of this really breaks the game, but it definitely makes Bloodforge more frustrating and difficult to play than it should.

The controls to Bloodforge do seem to have a slight delay, but overall they’re simple enough and don’t really need a lot of drop-of-the-hat reaction time unless trying to execute larger combos. The HUD is effective, though holding the left button to access the Rune menu for health is a little slow and may cost players in the end. During battles with large groups of enemies, the dodge is very effective to help you keep the combo counter alive and avoid being hit. The enemy variety is alright here, though usually nothing more than a few characters with subtle variation to them such an axe handler and a “tank” with a spear a shield. There is no difficulty selection for the title, starting out tough, but getting easier the more you upgrade your character and weapons. However, it doesn’t help that the how to directions are basically garbage, only having the details in the controls area detailed enough to really be worth reading up on. Mana and Health power-ups help keep you alive longer, and additional runes that affect your rage, mana attacks, and health are all plentiful. The boss battles are usually pretty easy as well, though sectioned off, and don’t really go into button-pressing mini-games aside spamming a button like a Rage kill. Unfortunately the final blow pretty much always seem to come during a cut scene.

Bloodforge doesn’t really offer much for gamers to return to unfortunately, though it does hint towards future downloadable content. possibly expanding the myth at a later date. The entire effort is single player, though you can come back at any time and replay the stages of the title, either by selecting them from the Continue Game screen, or entering the stone portals in the stage select screen. There’s also Blood Duels that show up at the entrace to the Blood Forge on the stone walls and display the leader in Blood Points for each area. Unfortunately, this didn’t want to register the one other friend with the title, but rather someone who isn’t even on my friends list, but rather a family member still in my friend request list awaiting approval. There’s also the Challenge Mode which is the most fun to be had in the title, but also the most depressing. You can challenge your friends to battle in arenas that throw wave after wave of enemy hordes at you in each location of the story mode, but after five waves you win the challenge of the gods and either can exit, or challenge your friends to complete those same five and more. Battle modifiers exist, that really do change the flow of the battles for additional fun by adding difficulty like exploding corpses, or making things easier by lessening enemy attack damage. This mode also has a few achievements in the thirty total for the game. The rest can easily be unlocked in one playthrough, but the five secret ones will be tricky for die-hard gamers, and easily stumbled upon by the inexperienced one, often just by attempting to stay alive. Even some of the regular achievements are pretty hard to unlock entirely thanks to the slightly broad descriptions given.

But, with all the faults mentioned, Bloodforge is still a great game I spent days of my life playing. Unfortunately, it’s just loaded with problems. The story is short, breaking maybe eight to ten hours max if that, it’s prone to glitching, horrible camera work, slight delays in the controls, and a Survival Mode that ends just when it starts getting good. But, it does have some positive bits to it worth noting. The score, as well as voice acting, both hold up to the atmospheric visuals, even if they can cause you to get lost more often than not. The controls are as good as they need to be, and the special attacks through mana and button combos per weapon holds the possibility of making the gameplay a little more complex. Even the graphics for this game are great, though hard to really appreciate at times, even when seamlessly going from cinematic to traditional gameplay. Hopefully these issues will be addressed with a patch sometime soon, but for now this stands as a title really worth grabbing the demo of to see if you can look past the problems and just enjoy hacking countless barbarians to pieces.

Overall Score: 6/10



Digital review copy of this title provided by Climax Studios.