Angry dude wants revenge on a god – we’ve all been there.
It is a tale that we have all heard before. A god upsets a man, usually a muscular warrior type, and then the man heads out on a journey of vengeance against the god and his minions. Can’t have a game in which the player takes on the role of a god who is harassed by vengeful heroes?
Anyway, the story in Bloodforge by Climax Studios gives this tale a Celtic twist with the hero Crom and the lands in which he lives all decidedly Celtic in flavour. The entities against which Crom declares war, after being tricked into murdering his own wife, may or may not be of Celtic origin, I have very little knowledge of Celtic mythology. What I do know is that they look like a medieval version of the Cenobites from the Hellraiser movies, which is actually kind of cool.
The gameplay is about as complex as the story. There is a light and heavy attack which can be combined into a massive selection of combos, along with the jump button. Then there is Crom’s only defensive move, a rather unresponsive roll out of the way. As Crom hacks away at his enemies, a rage meter fills which can be activated to send Crom into a berserker rage, slowing down the enemies and making him more powerful.
Things do get more interesting once Crom finds the other weapons in the game. A slow and powerful hammer, and a quick but weaker set of claws compliment the sword that he starts the game with. Then there are Rune-based magic attacks, which are quite impressive but have to be used sparingly, and the crossbow with unlimited ammunition, which is always handy in a scrape.
Despite all of these possibilities, working through Bloodforge consists mainly of button-mashing your way from one area to the next, through one wave of enemies and on to another. There is no puzzle-solving and precision-jumping to be had, just wholesale slaughter.
Still, that may be all that is needed for button-mashing enthusiasts. Unfortunately, it can be quite difficult to even mash buttons to the best of the players’ ability, thanks to an erratic camera which will bounce around with a mind of its own. The hyperactive camera is pretty much present throughout the game, but is at its worst when the combat gets heavy, which is more than a bit inconvenient.
Whilst the story, and even the gameplay, have all been seen before, in Bloodforge they appear to act as nothing more than a vehicle for the games’ impressive visual style. The game uses a very stylish desaturated colour palette combined with lashing and lashings of brightly coloured blood. The entire experience is very dark, moody and mature. It is really nice to look at, but the lack of distinction can have an adverse effect on the gameplay, especially with the somewhat over-excited camera.
Which raises the age old question “can quality graphics make up for lacklustre gameplay”? In the case of Bloodforge, sadly not. It may be that there is not anything particularly wrong with the way that the game plays. It is just that it is nothing that we haven’t seen before, it offers no variation and even the story fails to engage or offer a memorable experience. There are leaderboards which dedicated players can climb, and there is a survival mode of sorts in which the player can take on waves of enemies in their own customisable fashion and then challenge friends to better their achievements. But the reality is that you would have to be a pretty hardcore button-mashing gamer to get your money’s worth from Bloodforge.
Which is where I shall leave it. If your sole purpose in life is to dismember enemies in a particularly bloody way whilst giving yourself thumb blisters, then Bloodforge will tick your boxes and likely entertain for far longer than the five hours that the campaign will last. Any one else would have to be really bored or hard-up for games to actually finish this one. Probably best not to start…