Blood (DOS)

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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
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Written by  :  Stijn Daneels (85)
Written on  :  Oct 25, 2014
Rating  :  4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars

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I'm going to paint the town red!

The Good

Blood is a game that is considered along with Duke Nukem 3D and Shadow Warrior to be the holy trinity of Build engine FPS games. I discovered the game several years ago via the website Home of the Underdogs, a great website full of underrated PC games, definitely check it out.

In Blood, you play as Caleb. An Old West gunslinger who used to be part of the Chosen, the elite enforcers of the Cabal, a sinister cult who worship a dark god named Tchernobog. One day, Caleb, his girlfriend Ophelia and the rest of the Chosen are summoned to Tchernobog. Instead of gaining immortality and ultimate power, Caleb is forced to watch as his love and friends get slaughtered by Tchernobog and his minions. Caleb himself gets exiled and put to rot inside a hollow, cold grave. Several decades later, Caleb somehow comes back to life, seeking answers and above all else, bloody revenge!

Like I mentioned before, Blood uses the Build engine made famous in Duke Nukem 3D. Like Duke3D, Blood puts a strong emphasis on varied weapons and enemies as well as huge, highly detailed levels. Blood mostly takes place in real-life locations such as a cemetery, a hospital, a besieged city and even a moving train. There are also some more bizarre locations. One of the final levels in the game is called "in the flesh" and consists of Caleb moving through a living, breathing and occasionally bleeding creature. Furthermore, the environment reacts to what you are doing. Shoot the walls and bullet holes appear, statues and paintings can be destroyed in order to reveal hidden stashes, etc.

The first level, for instance, takes place at a cemetery. You start the level in your crypt and go through the graveyard, blowing up zombies "freshly" risen from the grave. After that, you will enter the memorial church and eventually the cremation room. Another level is one huge tribute to the horror movie (and novel) The Shining. It takes place in the Overlooked Hotel, complete with hallways, bedrooms, secret passages and a hedge maze. If you look hard enough, you can even find the Redrum writings and Jack Torrance's frozen corpse!

Level design aside, one of Blood biggest strengths, in my opinion, lies in its original weapon arsenal. In Blood you have some typical FPS weapons like a shotgun and a rocket launcher (changed to a napalm launcher) but you also get stuff like a flare pistol, an aerosol can makeshift flamethrower and even a voodoo doll (my personal favorite, by the way). Your melee weapon in this game is not a fist or a knife, but a freaking pitchfork. Ideal for stabbing those hapless mimes between the ribs! Not only that, but almost every weapon has an alternative firing mode. For example, the double-barreled sawed-off shotgun can fire either one barrel at the time or both at once for an awesome sounding BLUUUAAAAM!

The enemies themselves are also pretty original. You have typical horror enemies like zombies, psychopathic cultists and gargoyles but also walking hands, hell hounds and even fish like humans with shark heads (you have to see it to believe it). Some enemies will run, crawl or swim straight towards you to stab or bite you, others will shoot you and even others fade in and out of existence to slice you in half. In addition, the enemies are very challenging to fight against, particularly on the higher difficulties. Not only you get to fight more foes, but also because they get new abilities. The cultists, for example, will throw dynamite at you as well as strafing and crouching more often if you choose a harder difficulty level. Simply put, every enemy will test your skills and will require you to use different tactics to overcome the odds.

The game's audio and music also deserve as much or even more praise than its atmosphere. Zombies mumble stuff like "brains," cultists speak bizarre gibberish and the phantoms screams will pierce through your eardrums. Shoot enemies and they will scream out in pain. Set them on fire and they will shout "it burns, it burns" before falling apart into a tiny, smoldering pile of ash. All the weapons sound great and hearing blood dripping to the ground or the pitchfork penetrating flesh is awesomely gruesome. Music-wise, Blood is a far cry from typical game music. No rock, techno or orchestra themes, but ambient sounds like moaning, clock ticking or spiritual chants. It certainly adds to Blood's dark, morbid setting.

Caleb himself, and his voice actor Stephan Weyte, definitely deserve acclaim. Caleb really steals the show as he, like his Build bros Duke Nukem and Lo Wang, loves to comment on everything he sees and does. Enter the hospital level, and he says "I'm here to donate some blood, someone else's." Finish off the final boss and Caleb mutters "good, bad, I'm the guy with the gun." Caleb is pretty much an undead version of Dirty Harry as he has little shows little care for anything but his own issues. He is very morally ambiguous as he is pretty much as violent and psychotic as the cult he fights against. Blow enemies up and he will laugh maniacally, shoot a mime standing around and he will coolly say "I hate mimes." Still, Caleb is a joy to play with and you will constantly wonder what is next in store for him to kill and comment on.

Blood is like a huge love letter to classic horror fans. You will certainly recognize stuff from movies like The Evil Dead, Friday The 13th and Jaws. I do have to say that the game scared me little and that is exactly what the developers intended to do with this game. It uses horror and violence in such an absurd and exaggerated way that it becomes funny and just very entertaining. Like Duke3D, Blood is a game made by gamers for gamers with creativity and overall gaming pleasure put well above making money.

And of course, for a game named after the red liquid that flows through all our bodies, the game has a ton of blood and gore. Every kill is bloody and ultra violent. Throw dynamite to a zombie or cultist and watch as the blood, limbs, organs and other chunks of flesh get scattered all over the place. Shoot them with a shotgun next to a wall and see the blood slowly ooze all over the wall. Shoot enemies with a flare gun and watch them go out in flames. Use the voodoo doll and enemies turn to dust, literally!

The Bad

Like typical 90s shooters, Blood can be brutally hard at times. More often than not, you will enter a seemingly empty room only to get shot in the back by a cultist hiding in the corner or to have a horde of axe-wielding zombies appear from behind a fake wall.

The game's graphics, while detailed, are also very low resolution. Even on higher resolution settings, the game is pretty blurry, particularly the textures. I do have to say that these low res graphics certainly add to the game's B-movie style.

The Bottom Line

For me, Blood, alongside Shadow Warrior and Duke Nukem 3D can be considered the swan song of the 2.5D shooter genre. And along with these other two games, I can certainly recommend you all to give this game a go. Especially if you are looking for a bloody good game (no pun intended) to play for the Halloween season! Now go get your hands bloody!