NSFW Gamer Review: Blood Knights

NSFW Gamer Review: Blood Knights

How many true vampire games have you played lately?

Sure, they’ve been well-represented as enemies to fight and Skyrim started to really capture the feel of stalking our prey as a creature of the night, but not since walking the lands of Nosgoth have I really felt like a vampire. Until Blood Knights, that is.

While it’s not quite the Legacy of Kain sequel I’ve been waiting for, it’s enough to tide me over until that day may come. Click on through to find out why!

NSFW Gamer Review: Blood Knights

Blood Knights
Systems: PlayStation 3 [Reviewed], Xbox 360
Developer: Deck 13
Publisher: Kalypso Media
Release: November 19, 2013
MSRP: $14.99

Influences abound can be seen abound in Blood Knights. There are touches of Dragon Age, God of War, and most notably Diablo III, with the two characters very much playing like the Demon Hunter and the Barbarian. To its credit, however, it doesn’t try to be all of these at once and end up falling apart serving too many masters, but it does largely live in their shadow. Much in the way that Mars: War Logs could be called a poor man’s Mass Effect, Blood Knights could be called a poor man’s Gothic RPG, but if copying the best is how you become the best, these small developers are getting it right.

Blood Knight‘s story is easily its least important aspect, mostly serving to string the action together from one area to the next. The main concern is that the vampires have stolen an artifact called the Blood Seal, and it’s up to Jeremy, the Knight of Rome, and Alysa, the vampire who his soul is bound to, to retrieve it and restore the balance. All of this is conveyed through cutscenes that could give the original Resident Evil voice acting a run for its money on how not to approach a recording studio. For instance, where characters should be making an exclamation often ends with an upward inflection like they’re asking a question. Whatever budget was spent here would’ve been much more wisely put towards another part of the game, like allowing for online co-op or spending more time on story development.

NSFW Gamer Review: Blood Knights

The gameplay, on the other hand, fares much better. In the single-player adventure you’ll spend your time switching between Jeremy and Alysa rather than holding an AI partner’s hand (or they yours, for that matter), while co-op allows for some good times with anyone you’ve invited over. The combat, while lacking in overall variety, never got boring over the adventure, and both Jeremy and Elisa have their own specialized roles guided by their respective attack range. Often I found myself using Jeremy to take out the greater mobs, then using Eliza to mop up the archers standing on platforms overhead. I actually had to train myself to use the feed button to recover health, which might sound strange, but with so many RPG’s giving me either a healing spell or allowing you to practically hook health potions to an IV drip, it was nice to see a lore-friendly and challenging way to keep your character going. Holding an enemy to draw blood can be interrupted by attacks, so you’ll always have to keep an eye on what’s going on around you.

NSFW Gamer Review: Blood Knights

The graphics are adequate for a downloadable title, but what really shines here is some of the weapon and enemy design. Deck 13 definitely have a few bullets in their bandolier when it comes to their art department, with a couple of truly wicked sword designs in the mix, and enemies that were creepier than anything I’ve seen in a big-budget game for quite awhile now. Big companies could afford to take note.

There are a good few aspects that hold Blood Knights back, however. If you’re playing solo, the two characters have entirely different control schemes, and that can lead to some confusing moments. For instance, Alysa controls like a twin-stick shooter, with the left stick moving the character and the right controlling her aim. Meanwhile, for Jeremy, the right stick employs a dodge mechanic, which he responds to with such gusto that he’ll dodge right off a cliff if you tell him to. To be perfectly honest, the fact that we still have platforming deaths in a 3D adventure game baffles me. As the ever-acerbic Angry Joe would say, “This is 2013, people. It’s time to do away with these outdated ideas.”

NSFW Gamer Review: Blood Knights

The boss fights aren’t anything to write home about, either. I survived them without any noticeable harm by switching to Alysa and spamming arrows as I ran away. There’s also a portion in an early game battle where the boss jumps into a “Behemoth,” sort of like a medieval mech suit, and and just when you think the action is going to ramp up, she dramatically… runs away to pad out the length of the level. There are also several instances where you get to make a choice that will either suit a more human or vampiric nature, but their consequences are minimal. For instance, when I chose to let a captured vampire be burned at the stake, there was another vampire who refused to give me side quests as a result, however still agreed to trade with me. I even ended up screwing her over by not resurrecting the vampire masters she wanted to see alive again, and she still didn’t cut me off. The game could’ve held up a bit of drama if she told me to leave right away or even had her outright attack me, but I was just left with a lackluster non-consequence.

NSFW Gamer Review: Blood Knights

However, even with all of its flaws, the underlying gameplay in Blood Knights is meaty enough that if asked if I would recommend it to a friend, or at least if I would ask someone to play it with me, I would say yes. As someone who declared himself largely over beat-em-up gameplay, that’s not a recommendation I give lightly. I enjoyed myself enough that I’m going to play again and see what happens when I make the vampire-favoring choices, and if I can get a buddy to take the journey with me, all the better.

Game 3.5/5

The games “ladies of the night,” as they were, present a nice bit of fun along the way as well. The characters are also the least airheaded of the bunch, making a welcome change. Blood Fox, the game’s first real boss, carries herself with an air of superiority, and definitely recalls the Dominatrix from the Saints Row expansion, complete with a similar outfit. Secondly, there’s the very hot Succubus, who parades around in what can only be described as twelth-century lingere. She actually ends up with some amusing seductive banter for Jeremy, and nearly ends up pulling him in. Clearly, he’s one of us.

But it’s Alysa who really takes the cake here. All of her armors still end up showing a decent amount of skin, and the camera angles during cutscenes do a good job of displaying her assets. Though we never quite get the sexy aspects of God of War squeezed in, there’s enough cleavage, hip, thigh, and rump shots on display to keep the game satisfying. She also seems to have the best voice actor out of the bunch, so that’s another point in her favor. Whatever Deck 13 works on next, they’re heading in the right direction.

Hotness 3/5

– Brad Cowan aka “DevilSugar”

NSFW Gamer Review: Blood Knights

NSFW Gamer Review: Blood Knights

NSFW Gamer Review: Blood Knights

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