Bloodforge is a hack and slash action game; it’s a mess of blood, gore and battles, forged together across several levels with a story, derived from Celtic mythos, loosely strewn throughout. Bloodforge is brutal, viscious and, most importantly, it’s not a game you should be in a rush to play.
Crom – the main character – is an unlikable warrior that you’ll never grow attached to in the five or six hour journey you have with him. Set on a mission of vengeance, due to being forced back into action with the arrival of enemies and the murder of his family (with the blood on his hands), Crom follows a path to fulfil a prophecy and become – no, not the god of war – the destroyer of gods.
Sounds a bit familiar, doesn’t it? In many respects, Bloodforge is similar to the God of War series and other hack and slash games, though the lack of puzzles, strong narrative and any significant gameplay outside of the combat makes Bloodforge something else entirely.
There are four types of weapons: the mighty warhammer, suitable for powerful, methodical attacks; short-ranged claws, which are swift yet deadly if used right; a sword, which finds a middle ground between the previous two styles; and a bow, which is useful for ranged attacks or opening boxes, but not much else. It’s up to you to decide which combat style you like best, as the main three melee weapons are all fairly balanced.
More powerful weapons can be found as you progress through the levels; they’re all themed differently for the level they can be found in, which is a nice touch. Along with these weapons, Crom can harness godly powers in the form of rune attacks which help to destroy his foes. These use up magic, but can be useful in a time of need. Collecting the blood of enemies will add to your score and increase your berserk meter, which, when activated, grants Crom increased power and slows down the enemies, allowing for brutal finisher QTEs.
None of these weapons or attacks make the combat system any less of a menace, though. In fact, there’s one thing that makes playing the game even harder: the camera. It’s perhaps one of the worst, if not the worst, camera systems that you’ll see on your Xbox 360; it even manages to defy simple logic by being both utterly slow and far too fast at the same time. It sits nicely behind Crom as he wanders from battle to battle but as soon as you land an attack, the camera jumps around the screen extremely fast, making it near impossible to tell exactly what’s going on.
It’s not like that an abundance of enemies is the problem either – you’ll only face a maximum of six on screen at a time, and usually it’s less than that. Despite this there are noticeable framerate drops as the battle camera refocuses, leaving you to play a quick game of Where’s Crom before planning your next attack, or simply mash the face buttons and hope for the best.
Once you’ve disposed with a wave of enemies, another wave will be just round the corner; Bloodforge is almost entirely comprised of fighting group after group of enemy forces, throughout various levels. These levels stem off the central hub, and whilst at first they may seem linear, the levels do open up later in the game and one particular level’s design, with hexagonal sections of floor rising up from the unknown, redeems the game somewhat.[drop2]At the end of each level, you face off against a boss. There’s six bosses in total, the first four of which are epic battles and, although they can be hard if you’re low on health, these fights are actually quite fun. The last two bosses, however, are a complete mess; the second to last boss battle is terribly paced – it has you chasing the foe through a level whilst fighting other enemies, and seems to exist only to extend the game’s length. The last is a horrid, one-on-one battle with a speedy enemy, causing the camera to, quite literally, flip out.
The game does have some redeeming features though, notably the general aesthetics. While the graphics are sub-standard, they are acceptable for an XBLA title in some sections. The gory style, however, is great, with some sublime visual effects and filters used throughout. The epic music fits, too, and the loud, booming voice acting is suitable, albeit amateurish at points.
Another plus point comes with the online functionality, which is nicely yet subtly integrated into the campaign. In the very centre of the hub sit giant stones, which are essentially leaderboards, with the leader’s Gamertag etched on for all to see. Blood duels can be activated from the start, and these essentially pit you against your friends list to see who can attain the highest score in each level.
Bloodforge is packed to the brim with problems thought; there are even more that I’ve not mentioned yet. For example the complete lack of difficulty levels makes for a very poor difficulty curve, and the game is packed with numerous other glitches, including one which required a restart of the game.
- Novel online functionality.
- Some decent ideas with a good presentation, though not at all fully realised.
- It can be fun at times, notably in the first few boss battles.
- Camera and combat systems mix together to create a broken cocktail of hatred.
- It’s essentially wave after wave of enemy forces.
- No difficulty options make for confusing difficulty spikes throughout.
- Story is very unimpressive.
- Numerous other glitches and problems.
- To put it simply: the game is broken.
For the first three quarters of Bloodforge, I really believed that this could be a good game if the main issues such as the awful camera and terrible combat system were fixed with further development. Unfortunately, the last section made me realise just how horrid a game this is, adding nothing at all other than slowly tying up the plot and extending the length.
It’s a budget game with few redeeming features, not at all suited to the price of 1200MSP as it is and, above all, it’s a broken mess that’s almost beyond fixing .