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#BLUD Review

Saturday Morning Slayer

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Despite what television shows and movies told me, I never found high school to be that much of a nightmare. Sure, I wouldn't exactly call myself Mr. Popularity, but I had friends and teachers that made it an easy time in my life. Of course, if I had to deal with the killer monsters invading Carpentersville High, perhaps I wouldn't have that same fondness. Such is the case with Becky Brewster and her fellow students in the dungeon crawling adventure #BLUD.

#BLUD game

Becky Brewster is about to face a challenge most people have nightmares of: first day of high school in a new neighborhood. Having just moved to Carpentersville with her father, Becky is just trying to make friends and survive the challenges of freshman year. Unfortunately for her, the town has recently been besieged by mysterious monster attacks. Fortunately for the town, though, Becky just happens to come from a line of monster hunters. Along with her new friend Corey and the mysterious janitor at Carpentersville High, the boisterous new student will slay some vampires and perhaps make some new friends along the way.

While not the same, the set-up of the plot is very Buffy the Vampire Slayer coded - young woman forced to take up the mantle of vampire hunter. The plot here lacks the spunk and personality of that classic TV series, but there are elements here I still quite enjoyed. Specifically, I think the cast of characters is strong and memorable across the board. The students of Carpentersville High purposely fall into traditional archetypes (nerd, bully, popular, goth) that give the game the cartoon vibe it's going for. It kind of reminds of me Ed, Edd & Eddy in that regard. The few adult characters have their moments as well. Becky's dad is clearly caring, but also aloof in a way that covers for why he has no questions about his daughter's afterschool proclivities. Even when the overall plot wasn't captivating me, I still enjoyed taking the time to speak to everyone around town.

The town of Carpentersville is broken down into different districts, and Becky will be traveling to all of them in order to wipe out the vampiric menace. Utilizing an isometric 2D camera angle, you'll be hacking and slashing through enemies with your trusty field hockey stick. As you progress through the campaign and complete missions, you'll unlock additional finishers for your combo attack. Additional items such as an umbrella and grappling hook will be found over time. Each item serves a purpose, such as the umbrella letting you access new areas and block attacks. Outside of that shield, Becky can also use a roll to dodge enemy attacks. As you reach new areas, you'll be able to unlock a fast travel system to easily move from location to location and avoid unnecessary fights.

#BLUD game

If you're familiar with dungeon crawlers at all, you'll instantly be able to jump into action. There's nothing here you haven't seen elsewhere. Unfortunately, what is here has also been done better in those other titles as well. It's extremely straightforward and lacking in depth that would have helped to liven up the action towards the end of the game. A leveling system or upgrade tree would have done wonders for the combat while also giving you a reason to not take shortcuts everywhere.

There's a frustrating sluggishness to some of your moves as well. The dodge roll doesn't give you a frame of invincibility, and it's easy to get hit by an enemy despite seemingly getting out of the way. The animation on your combo finishers also tend to last too long, which in turn opens you up to another enemy's attack if you are brawling with a group. A mechanic to the gameplay I thought was unique, if a little underdeveloped, is the ability to take selfies. If you take a selfie with an enemy, you can log it into your grimoire along with pertinent information on them. It's not necessary in order to kill them, but if you find yourself struggling with a certain enemy type, this may help open your eyes to what needs to be done.

Speaking of your foes, there's a good amount of variety to the creatures Becky slays. You start off with diseased rats and mutant flys before progressing to stronger opposition like buffed-up vampires and tentacled monstrosities. #BLUD does a good job of deploying them as you progress through the campaign. You'll get a handle on one batch of enemies before having to learn how to deal with the next and so on. The end of each major mission typically features a boss battle as a capper. Most of them simply require you to learn their patterns to take down. You could be required to deflect a projectile back using your umbrella or take out the legs of one to get to its main weak spot. Like with the common enemies, there's enough variety to the bosses to make each one feel different.

#BLUD game

The enemy variety is welcome, as the mission objectives are decisively lacking in that department. You spend a lot of your mission time retrieving items for different characters. The only thing that really changes is where you are going to get these items. One mission requires you to do some grave robbing, while another takes you shopping through the local mall. Most of the side missions follow this same path, with a few detours taken to destroy certain things. You don't need to complete these side missions, as most of the time the reward you get from them are just collectible badges. I did run into some issues with completing these side missions too, as certain ones I found myself locked out of completing despite having the requisite items. I'm not sure if it was just due to where I was at in the main story, but the missions were still listed as active in the menu.

The spirit of vintage Cartoon Network is alive and well in the visuals of #BLUD. The character designs would feel right at home in a show from the late 90's or early 00's. Whether in close-up or during the action, they are quite expressive and charming. Anime styled cutscenes during certain moments look great and bring additional personality to the vibes of the game. Despite the amount of dialogue, there is no traditional voice acting. Instead, you have something that sounds like the grumbles the adult characters from Peanuts had. The tone of the grumbles shifts depending on the mood of the character, which is a nice touch.

During the close to dozen hours spent with #BLUD, I ended up encountering a handful of technical issues on the Steam Deck. I already mentioned the fact that I got locked out of some side-quests, which is probably the most pertinent issue I had. However, there were other issues as well, specifically the game locking up on me in load screens and getting stuck on pieces of the environment. None of these issues prevented me from completing the main story, but I did have to restart the game to progress.

#BLUD game

#BLUD has a ton of personality, and that is the sharpest tool in the game's arsenal. I enjoyed getting to know the citizens of Carpentersville, and the aesthetics of the title are fantastic to a classic cartoon fan such as myself. However, the actual gameplay can't fully match up to its flashy personality. It's meat-and-potatoes basic 2D dungeon crawling that you have seen done better elsewhere. Either adding depth to the combat or more engaging missions would have done a lot to improve the package. It may not be a top tier addition to the genre, but there was still enough personality and spunk to charm me.

Our ratings for #BLUD on PC out of 100 (Ratings FAQ)
Presentation
77
Harkening back to a memorable era of animation, #BLUD has a creative and colorful visual design. The lack of true voice acting may turn off some, but the animated grumblings fit surprisingly well.
Gameplay
58
Nothing you haven't seen here done better in other dungeon crawlers. Unfortunate bugs and poorly implemented roll technique compound the mediocrity.
Single Player
72
Becky's journey from nervous new student to vampire killer isn't overflowing with depth, but the fun cast of side characters really liven up the adventure. They help give life to even the most tedious of side quests.
Multiplayer
NR
None
Performance
60
Game freezing bugs forced me to reboot the game more than once, and getting inexplicably locked out of side quests was far from ideal.
Overall
68
#BLUD may not bring anything new to the table, but it has a fun personality and unique presentation to make it worth taking a chance on for fans of the genre.
Comments
#BLUD
#BLUD box art Platform:
PC
Our Review of #BLUD
68%
Adequate
The Verdict:
Game Ranking
#BLUD is ranked #1395 out of 1988 total reviewed games. It is ranked #28 out of 42 games reviewed in 2024.
1395. #BLUD
1396. The King's Bird
PC
Screenshots

#BLUD
7 images added 19 days ago
Videos
#BLUD - Launch Trailer
Posted: 24 days ago
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