by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
to be or not to be...a vampire
“Filthy bloodsucker” is an insult you can only really give to a few things. Mosquitoes, leeches and vampires. At least they’ve become a bit more sexy in recent years. But enough about leeches, Blood Knights is a hack’n’slash game about killing vampires, turning into a vampire, helping vampires, and then ultimately, killing vampires again. Has your brain completely rejected that word yet? Mine has, and we’ve barely even started. Vampires.
You start out as a slayer working with the church, but it isn’t long before a priest decides it’s a good idea to bond your soul with a vampire to give you more power or something. Unthinkably, this backfires, and ends up with you being kicked off a ledge by your former comrades. From there, you and your sexy female vampire soulmate are left to your own devices, but it isn’t long before you’re back working for the church. Obviously you don’t want to be forever linked to a creature of the night, despite now being one yourself, so you need their help to break the bond. Except you can make choices in the story that suggest you actually like being a vampire after all. But there are also other vampires with nefarious ideas in mind, which you want to stop because you’re not a vampire, except you are. Do you follow?
Weirdness makes you think
I found the story to be fairly nonsensical and filled with odd plot holes. At one point you can choose to take a powerful relic back to the priest you are helping, or give it to a traitor who admits to now working with vampires. Having chosen the latter, the priest appeared a bit miffed for all of two seconds, before sending me out on another quest. This was all accompanied by terrible voice acting, with lines being delivered with all the gusto of someone who had just been dragged away from a particularly nice roast dinner which they could see going cold through the window of the recording booth.
I wish the issues were limited to the storytelling, but they’re not. Combat is a dreary affair, with new abilities coming at a snail’s pace throughout the game. At any point you can switch between the male character or the female character. The male is a warrior, wielding two weapons, while the female is an archer, wielding a couple of crossbows. The warrior has a power attack to break shields and a spin attack for area of effect damage, as well as eventually gaining a shield which protects him from ranged attacks. The archer shoots bolts and can equip a number of different special projectiles, like fiery bolts, or some that do extreme damage. She also gains a shield later on that protects her from melee hits.
Blood sucking bugs
Each character has a blood sucking ability, which is somehow performed from afar. In addition to this, while sucking blood, the warrior can pull his target to him while the archer can push her target away. There’s no manual targeting system, so I was often choosing the wrong enemy. This was compounded by the simply abysmal fixed camera angles on offer. It would seemingly move around of its own accord, even taking enemies completely of the screen on more than one occasion, leaving me swinging wildly in the general direction of where I thought my foes were. When playing as the archer with a gamepad, you use the right analogue stick to aim, with a slight auto lock on system. Multiple times the analogue stick would inexplicably stop turning my character around and the only way I could aim was using the mouse until I had fully restarted the game.
A negative blast from the past
Which brings me to another problem: save points. Actual, physical save points that you have to run up to. I didn’t think games even had those any more. They serve an extra purpose of being able to teleport you back to town to visit the trader, but I never bought anything throughout the entire game anyway. Each new piece of loot you pick up is better than what you are currently wearing, without fail, taking any real choice out of item management. I’m glad there are so many save points though, as the speed with which you can die in Blood Knights is quite alarming. Especially if the camera swings round and you jump off a cliff or step into water (deadly to vampires). Getting hit by enemies takes you out of your animation, so it is possible to be stun locked for quite some time. You can drain blood from a foe, or from one of many dead soldiers on spikes that are liberally placed round the world for some reason, to gain back health, but it’s never really enough in the heat of battle.
There’s just nothing to think about. You hammer on the attack button and use your abilities whenever they’re off cooldown. In boss battles I just kited it and circle strafed around using the ranged character. The characters are forgettable, I honestly can’t remember any of their names, and the story didn’t make much sense. All I can really remember is vampire cleavage, and the visuals aren’t particularly good, so there’s not much to get excited about there, even for teenage boys. There are plenty of good hack’n’slash games out there, many involving vampires, and this isn’t one of them.
Vampires are cool, I guess.
I fell off cliffs way too often. Awful voice acting. Unremarkable combat.