I’ve talked before about playing bad games previously here on Grinding Down and the importance of seeing them through and even finished one last year solely to get my first Platinum Trophy, but I won’t be completing Blood Knights. It’s just that poor. I mean I want to, because I like finishing things–whether that’s art projects, books, nicely cooked meals, laundry, whatever–but the amount of frustration this undead monstrosity is throwing in my face is not needed. Not in 2017, not in 2018, not ever. I’d rather eat a garlic bread sandwich and watch the sun rise. Thankfully, Deck13 Interactive’s hack-and-slash RPG from 2013 can now participate in my highly praised and much copied PlayStation Plus purge program.
For those that don’t know, like me when I got this thing for free for PlayStation Plus some many months back, Blood Knights is a downloadable action RPG for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. The game was developed by German studio Deck13 Interactive and published by Kalypso Media, also from Germany. You play as bland-as-bread Jeremy, a renowned vampire hunter who is trailing behind a priest in order to stop an army of blood-suckers who have stolen the Blood Seal, a magical artifact which…due to it being stolen, shattered the moon. I won’t fault you for not comprehending that sentence because I played the game for a couple hours and did not comprehend much altogether. Also, Jeremy has been “bonded” to a female vampire named Alysa for unclear reasons. Well, maybe videogamey reasons.
Blood Knights features both single player and local cooperative gameplay modes, but does not allow for online co-op, and so my short time with it was spent playing by my lonesome, mouth agape in disbelief at almost every step of the way. When playing solo, you can swap between Jeremy and Alysa with the touch of a button, which strangely has a short cool-down period, but the other character simply disappears from the level instead of hanging around, being controlled by AI and helping you fight the bad guys. Both share the same lifebar too. Which is strange for a game built on co-op and dropping in and out of play, but hey, I’m no videogame developer.
The main gameplay is linear dungeon crawling with sword swingin’, loosing arrows, magic spells, and picking up loot, kind of like Diablo 3, but far inferior. Far, far inferior. You gain experience points and pick up small piles of gold along the way as you battle back people who hate vampires, and all of that feeds into upgrading your character’s skills or buying new gear, but I found the menu UI and look to be so ugly that it was difficult to even navigate. I struggled to see the stat differences between the weapon on the ground and the weapon in Jeremy’s hands that I often left the sword where it lay. Same goes for each character’s respective skill tree and the controller layout, both of which are hard to grok. Attacking enemies is unsatisfying, even with Jeremy having a super-move clearly inspired by the likes of one Crash Bandicoot.
I feel like it is almost cruel to talk about the game’s graphics and voice acting–because they are atrocious, a heavy adjective for sure–but it’s a big part of what turned me almost immediately off of Blood Knights. Here is the game’s intro. Everything is so wooden and, excuse the wordplay, lifeless, from how the characters move to their speech to the attempt at creating a stirring moment from a dramatic score. I also experienced a good amount of jank, such as frequent slowdowns and popping and flickering shadows. This speaks to the PS3 and Xbox 360 generation as a whole, but there’s also a ton of light bloom happening in nearly every scene. Lastly, take notice of how Jeremy is dressed in a full set of armor, and Alysa is yet another highly sexualized female protagonist for the industry, forced to do battle against enemies with swords and spears in an outfit incapable of protecting her skin from getting poked.
Blood Knights isn’t even close to mediocre. Cue the sunrise.
Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.