Blood Knights Review
Blood Knights is a game that leaves me… Conflicted. It does everything that is necessary to call itself a Diablo clone but it just never seems to go above and beyond, or even match said game in quality. I can’t say I’m all that surprised about what Blood Knights is. A budget title that feels rushed and light on content, but all the while playing through it I was still rooting so hard for it to make it, but like most real world underdogs, it just never quite pulls through.
Let me get this out of the way up front. Blood Knights is a fun hack and slash style game to play. It captures a great deal of fun, and if that were the only thing required for a game to score well then this review would be over now. The problem is that I just can’t judge the game solely on its ‘Fun Factor’. The game is a scant five hours long, which is short even in terms of a downloadable title. The story that the writers were trying to tell is so much larger than the game that was laid out in front of us by the developers. From the moment the game begins I felt like I was being extremely rushed and, in turn, ended up feeling lost with what was going on. The story was just begging for another few more hours of gameplay so that it could flesh itself out. Heck, I wanted it to last longer because the overall story they were trying to tell was generally interesting, although the whole vampires dying from water thing is new to me.
Being what most people now refer to as a Diablo clone you tend to get an idea of how the game controls. I’m playing the PC version here and using a gamepad which works great. After a mild adjustment period to the button layouts it was pretty much smooth sailing. Both characters move well, and the camera does a nice job of tracking their movement nicely. The problem really arises when you have to attempt any sort of platforming. This is the point where the camera will end up betraying you and lead to many a cheap death. Blood Knights seems to somehow know this as it tends to place automatic save points right before any major jumping sections. In fact, now that I’m thinking about it the game has so many checkpoints that you never really feel in danger of dying. You can collect a great deal of loot for your characters but there just isn’t enough variety in the weapon or armor selection to get you excited about it. You won’t find drops from any of the enemies, aside from gold and health, so all your weapons come from treasure chests that are scattered around each map. The chests are so plentiful that you won’t ever have need of using the merchant for much of anything. You also are treated to a very simplistic upgrade system which works by giving you skill points to spend after you raise in level. There are only a handful of skills and most are maxed out after only three points, so by games end both of my characters were just about maxed leaving me little desire, or need for another playthrough.
Blood Knights offers two player cooperative play, which is something I always love, but for some reason the co-op is limited only to local play. A game like this really demands some form of online play and I personally would have loved to see a team of four hacking and slashing monsters online. Are you starting to understand what I meant earlier when I said the game does just enough to be fun, but ends up letting you down anyway? Both characters are defined by their weaponry, which they are locked to, and this leads to a very limiting experience. Jeremy, the main protagonist, wields dual blades and does all his damage up close and personal. Your female counterpart, who wears clothes so skimpy that the girls of Dead or Alive: Beach Volleyball would be disgusted, also dual wields, but instead of short range blades goes with long range crossbows. If you are playing solo then Alysa will be the only way to go as her ranged attacks will make short work of “ALL” the enemies in the game. I found myself only using Jeremy on a limited number of occasions while playing solo. Another thing to note, that is prevalent with many games, is that all the character models have this strange shine to them. When having your game’s setting in a medieval time frame, this comes off as just really cheap. Shooters and futuristic games can sometimes get away with it because of their settings, but in Blood Knights it just doesn’t work and you end up with your cast looking like plastic action figures instead of people.
Sound wise Blood Knights again just comes off as only adequate. The music is nice and does help set the mood but on more than one occasion I had it completely cut out on me during cutscenes, really killing the immersion that the game was trying hard at creating. The voice cast also read their lines with such little passion that it makes it almost a chore to watch any of the games cutscenes, which is unfortunate because from a writing perspective, the story is actually really interesting. Many of the minor characters in the game are also clearly voiced by the same voice actor and this leads to everything coming off as cheap and just a bit lazy.
Blood Knights story is also just too rushed to make much sense at first, and by the time you are figuring everything out the game’s basically over. You begin the adventure in some caverns, in what I assume is Egypt, and right away you are explained to, in cutscene, how and why you and your female partner are blood-bound. What makes this come out off left field is that you are bound to, what I can only assume, was a captured female vampire who just appears out of thin air in an early cutscene without a fight or anything. This binding is done because the power you gain from the it will allow you to continue on, super powered, and save the day. Fair enough, but no sooner that you agree to this binding than you are turned into a vampire, killed, and left for dead by your own people. That’s the problem with Blood Knights from a story perspective. All these major events and double crossings demand much more time to be really fleshed out in a digestible manner. As it stands you end up saving the world in what feels like the span of a few minutes and thus never have the time to connect in any way with it or the characters. Even more bizarre is that major locations are referred to by real world names. I’m no master of geography here, but when you send a letter to Rome for help and that help arrives in Romania by the end of your twenty minute climb up a mountain, it tends to throw up some major red flags.
Blood Knights is a fun game to play, but you can never really shake the nagging feeling that it should be so much more, and so much better. It should want you to be invested in the characters and the world they adventure in, but all you end up thinking is how much you’d rather be playing Diablo, or Diablo 2, or heck even Diablo 3. So, I’ll make this as simple as possible: Blood Knights is bad, but it’s the kind of bad that you will enjoy playing and wishing was so much more. Blood Knights has enough going on under the hood that it really could be something great, unfortunately there’s just no gas in that tank to do anything. At $14.99 it’s also priced much too high to recommend for only five hours of mediocre gameplay. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a Blood Knights 2 so that the developers can really make a game as large and as varied as the story they have underneath. Blood Knights is the kind of game that you really, really want to like but just can’t.