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Blood Alloy - Reborn Review

Blood Alloy - Reborn Review

I don’t know about you, but all of these walking simulators, turn-based strategy games and slow-paced puzzlers don’t always do it for me. Yes, I like using my brain, but sometimes it’s a lot more fun to simply put it to one side, take out a plasma pistol and shoot hordes of mindless enemies. To that end, I picked up Blood Alloy – Reborn, with the intention of killing as many hours as I could homicidal robots.

Blood Alloy is an independently developed 2D platform shooter that has the player take control of an unnamed robot soldier as they fight endlessly materialising mechanical monsters of increasing difficulty until they either run out of health or get bored. One of the things that immediately struck me as lacking in this game was the story; after completing a brief tutorial, a few gorgeous images are flashed on the screen too quickly for the player to appreciate before throwing them into an even more gorgeous apocalyptic retro environment. I understand the appeal of an ambiguous narrative, and I suppose I could come up with a story of my own, but when I’m fighting tooth and nail against insectile robots in the ruins of a seemingly huge city, I don’t want to feel as though I’ve sat down to watch a narrative driven film twenty minutes before the climax. I have no idea who I’m fighting, why I’m fighting them, or even who I am; I could be the villain for all I know, in which case I should just stop playing and let humanity continue.

The combat in this game took some getting used to, with its heavy emphasis on fast movements and varied attack patterns, but once I really got into it, I found it to be both exciting and satisfying: something that can’t always be said for endless arcade-y firefights. The player is given a melee slash and a pistol, as well as a high-speed dash that can be used to climb walls, shoot homing missiles or make a quick getaway from one side of the map to the other. I learned later on that I also had access to a whip attack, a charged laser-beam, and an energy slash that I could only use when sprinting; but the thing is, I only ever use the hyper beam attack, because enemy bullets have the privilege of traveling through solid platforms, whereas your regular attacks can’t. Not only is the beam able to pass through objects and usually deal fatal damage, but it takes almost no time to charge. I appreciate being given all of these attacks to use, but when only one or two are genuinely useful, players are going to be drawn to using those attacks far more often. What was fast paced and fun to begin with quickly descended into hundreds of games that were exactly the same as the others.

Although the gameplay in Blood Alloy can be really exciting, the lack of any real progression is likely to dampen its effect very quickly. The game has you kill robots in one of three tiny arenas to earn higher and higher scores (I say three, but completing a session on one of them causes the game to crash); but, to my understanding, there isn’t any way to compare high scores online, meaning that the only person you have to compete against is yourself, and I’ve never really been one for breaking my own high scores simply because I can. Of course, this also means that there aren’t any levels or objectives beyond ‘stay alive’, and considering how many weapons and abilities I have, it seems a little ridiculous to confine myself to these limited spaces. The only thing that kept me playing was the experience bar, but once I learned its terrible secret, even that put me off: playing a session of Blood Alloy will increase the bar, and therefore your level. Upon attaining a new level, the player will be rewarded with either a new song from the soundtrack, a new arena to fight in or a new weapon. None of these upgrades have any visual impact on the player character, and aren’t different enough from each other to warrant developing a playstyle all that different from the original character. The same can be said of the soundtrack – perhaps I’ve been spoiled by the orchestras of Skyrim and Bloodborne, but I couldn’t differentiate between the different tracks, and I couldn’t choose which one I wanted to listen to either (I’m thinking that there was going to be an option, but I couldn’t activate the box labelled ‘song’). If not being able to choose particular tracks bothers you, you can always buy the soundtrack separately as DLC, but that means robbing yourself of the joy of levelling up. I kept playing game after game because I was hoping that one level up would be the one that really made the game for me, and it just didn’t happen.

As I said, one of the maps (the last one, let’s be precise) freezes the game after dying, meaning that you have to close down the game with the task manager before opening it up again through Steam – honestly, I was ready to quit by the time I reached that last arena, but I wanted to give this game a somewhat pleasant review, so I had to play some more. I also found that my melee always seemed to damage me more than it did my enemies, and with no easy way to regain health my sword just became another neglected bunch of brightly coloured pixels. Every now and then, the upgrade screen seemed to take pity on me and gave me a preview of the later equipment that would be preserved for those players of higher levels: those guns weren’t any good either. It’s a real shame, because I did enjoy the gameplay to begin with, but it lacked the variety to keep me playing, and the issues that the menu interface have has pushed me over the edge.

Blood Alloy really isn’t that bad – to a point. If you enjoy fast paced gameplay, cyberpunk worlds and high scores, this one is probably worth giving a shot. Although the game only had a few bugs, they must have been pretty big for me to notice them, with some of them working in my favour, and some outright preventing me from playing. The game belongs more in an arcade, or at the very least Miniclip; nothing about it says commercial purchase and although it is definitely enjoyable for a little bit, I won’t be playing it again any time soon.

4.00/10 4

Blood Alloy: Reborn (Reviewed on Windows 8)

Minor enjoyable interactions, but on the whole is underwhelming.

Although fun for a little while, Blood Alloy lacks variety and fails to capture the player’s interests. At its best, it’s a fast paced run ‘n’ gunner that fails to explain itself; at its worst, it’s dull, buggy and makes use of cheap techniques to keep players torturing themselves.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Ben Robson

Ben Robson

Staff Writer

Owner of strange Dr Moreau-esque pets, writer of videogames.

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