#BLUD Review

#BLUD, or Becky the Vampyr Slayer, is a dungeon crawler in which vampires have descended upon the town of Carpentersville. Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for the townsfolk, a girl named Becky has recently moved to town and she just happens to come from a line of vampire hunters, though she’s not aware of that when we first meet her. She just wants to be a normal kid, doing normal stuff like attending school and going out with her friends. But, we don’t always get what we want in life, and Becky is thrust into being the one who has to stake her future peace on taking down the big-bad Dragur.

#BLUD has one real stand-out unique element to it, and that is its Twitter-alike social media site, Perch. Perch is essentially Becky’s mission log, where other townsfolk and classmates can comment on the missions with updates and clues. Becky can also post selfies from around town and with people as well as enemies. These can offer further insight into the people living in Carpentersville, as well as provide other information about the foes that Becky will come up against. Where some games tack on internal social media, #BLUD makes it an integral part of the game. In addition to her social media, Becky has a grimoire, though many of the pages are missing or incomplete. As progress is made, new pages appear with knowledge about the different enemies, recipes, and spells. At first glance, it seemed that the recipes and spells section alluded to some form or crafting and magic use, but sadly that’s not the case as Becky doesn’t get to use any magic in her fight against the vampires.

#BLUD’s combat is pretty basic to be honest. Becky starts with just her fists to punch enemies, and the ability to dodge. Eventually, she gets her hands on a hockey stick which deals more damage than her fists. You get further upgrades including a shield, shovel, and a rope dart, which can be used in battle as well as to traverse certain areas in the overworld. The shield will block incoming attacks allowing for counter hits, the shovel digs out enemies that burrow underground, and the rope dart gives range. Becky is also equipped with pencils that are used as throwable mini-stakes for ranged attacks, along with cherry bombs that can do area damage.

In #BLUD, enemies have different strengths and weaknesses. So, teen vampires need to be parried before they can be attacked, while Reapers need to swallow bombs to be killed. There’s a good variety of enemies, with different ones being introduced regularly to keep things fresh, but there is a downside to them too. In quite a few battles, certain enemy types, like the feral vampire and teen vampire, just stopped engaging and stood around. To remind them that we were fighting I would have to thwack them with the hockey stick, pulling them out of their daydream reverie and back to the violent reality. There are boss battles spread through the campaign of #BLUD as well, with the majority being about hitting the enemy weak spots a few times. A couple of fun outliers do provide something different, including a school bus chase and a boxing match, but I wish there were more.

One of the key aspects of #BLUD is its visual design. Developer Exit 73 Studios has looked towards the cartoons of the 90’s for the world and character designs, and as someone who grew up on those cartoons #BLUD really does nail that aesthetic. When it comes to the games sound and voices, it feels like the development team has gone even further back, using Peanuts’ Miss Othmar, aka trombone voice teacher, as inspiration for the gibberish the characters speak.

Exploring Carpentersville and checking Perch will bring side quest opportunities, alongside the main campaign mission, with these offering different rewards too. The missions could be anything from stealing some lawn furniture to wiping out vampire nests in the hospital and they’re worth doing as you learn more about the town and the people you are helping. No mission really outstays its welcome, that is, until closer to the end of the game. Towards the close, there’s a story mission that requires visiting various locations around town to place an object. In one stage you have to navigate a labyrinth in the hospital, and I was close to getting soft locked here. There is a point where you must hit a big button to activate and deactivate bridges, but what can easily be missed is the barrier you can take down. I missed this and then got stuck trying to hit the button from range.

It was only after various goes that I managed to find the smallest of gaps to launch a pencil stake at the button to activate the bridge I needed. While, I should have paid attention there should not be any point where you can become forever stuck. Another part of the mission involved corridors of darkness, particularly the last one where there is no immediate source of light, allowing enemies to attack in the dark as well as falling into crevices. Both cause damage and if you lose your hearts its back to the last checkpoint, though thankfully, you do not need to redo most puzzles when you are sent back.

For all its charm, #BLUD does have other issues too. There was noticeable delay when quitting from the pause menu and back to the game, and a couple of times where Becky got stuck in the environment. The first time I tried to quit to the main menu and the game froze up, while on the second time the game did go back to the start screen allowing me to reload. These serve to take some more of the shine off what is a characterful indie title.

Across its approximately 15 hours of playtime, #Blud offers a fun and straightforward dungeon crawler with a great aesthetic, but it is undone by some bugs that impact the flow of the game, along with some missions that just bring the fun factor right down.
  • The 90s cartoon style is excellent
  • Using social media as the mission log is very well done
  • Some genuine fun to be had
  • Combat is very basic
  • Encountered a number of different bugs
  • Penultimate mission could have been better
Written by
From the heady days of the Mega Drive up until the modern day gaming has been my main hobby. I'll give almost any game a go.