Occasionally game developers take what has worked in previous games in the same genre and put it in their own works. Sometimes this works and sometimes, unfortunately, it does not. Climax Studios brings us Bloodforge, an action hack and slash XBLA title that desperately tries to do that very same thing.
Crom, a powerful warrior has put his past battles behind him. He decided to put his sword down in favor of raising a family. Then one day the gods decide to bring Crom into their battle. This ultimately forces Crom to seek revenge on a god that took everything from him (sound familiar, cough God of W..). With a newly obtained gauntlet that claims blood from falling enemies, there is nothing that stands in his way.
Bloodforge is a third-person action title with hacking and slashing at it’s core as you (Crom) traverse your way through waves of enemies. You have three melee weapons, a sword, hammer and claws. Each of these weapons has their own set of combos to use. Progress farther into the game and you get upgrades to these weapons that give greater combos that you use to hack bad guys to pieces. Every time you kill an enemy you gain blood points. The better hit combos you achieve the more blood points you earn. Blood points can also be used to upgrade your rune attacks. These are deadly abilities that when used quickly dish out damage to everyone around you.
You also have a blood meter which slowly fills up with every kill. Once full you can unleash a berserk attack. This attack deals greater damage and can be used to focus on a given enemy to deal a deadly combination of destruction. In addition to the campaign, you can activate blood duel. Each area you play you can compare the amount of blood points each player has earned. There is also a challenge mode where you can challenge your gaming buddies to see who can get the highest blood points in different waves in certain situations.
Noticeably, there are many borrowed gameplay mechanics found in Bloodforge which we’ve seen from previous action titles. The most obvious being the God of War series. From it’s story and gameplay elements, Bloodforge only scratches the surface of the exploits of Kratos. The combos that are offered with each weapon are rarely useful. The most useful tactic while playing is getting a couple of hits on bad guys with the occasional evasive maneuver of rolling away from enemy attacks. Even the weapons themselves didn’t seem to matter. Camera placement in Bloodforge is bad. I would love to have it pulled away to get a more overall view of the area. Instead it is up close and feels rather awkward with the play style.
With all the flaws in Bloodforge, I still managed to enjoy playing it. The art style fits the game. The characters, even though they were repeated a lot, looked great. Once you get an enemy close to death you can perform killing blows. These are satisfying such as slicing off the head with your sword or knocking someone down and smashing midsection into mush. Even though the story can be called unoriginal, I was still interested in how it played out. Boss fights happen after each area. These are what really made me enjoy the game. Even though the pattern was easily figured out in how to kill bosses, I was actively glued to screen as I battled them. Some bosses were simply huge offering a great cinematic showdown feel when battling them.
Yes, Bloodforge directly takes every aspect of the action game, including the story, of the popular game God of War. Is it on par with it? No. Is that a bad thing, not exactly. It is a downloadable XBLA game that could use a lot of improvement in a lot of areas. Did I have fun playing? Yes. This game does have some solid gameplay moments and some bad play mechanics. In the end I enjoyed the play through of Bloodforge. I recommend you try out the demo first before making your purchase.