Vampires. They’re everywhere. Whether they’re sparkling, making out, or dripping with blood, people have a glamorized fascination with the bloodsuckers – so why not play off of it? That’s exactly the spirit of the upcoming hack-and-slash Blood Knights, releasing on – you guessed it – Halloween.
Taking inspiration from games like Champions of Norrath, developer Deck 13 is setting out to create a fun action RPG you can play with your friends. Although the game is a downloadable title through XBLA, PSN, and PC, it does not have online co-op. The push is for you to play in the same room with friends, presumably because vampires are so scary that you need a friend nearby.
As we know all too well, vampires rarely play nice. In Blood Knights, they’re set to destroy the world using the infamous blood seal. The hero, Jeremy of the Crusaders, is out to stop them. The Crusaders want to steal the seal back, but their only lead is a mysterious vampire named Alysa. She is bound to Jeremy, so he can control her and use her powers.
During our demo Jeremy and Alysa didn’t interact much, although we were told that would change as the game progresses. We’re obviously going to see their personalities clash. Thankfully, the two work together well in combat. You can either have a buddy control one of the characters, or switch between the two if you’re playing solo. Jeremy is a melee fighter with quick and strong attacks, plus powers that pull enemies toward him. Alysa attacks enemies from a distance with her crossbow and grenades. In contrast to Jeremy, she pushes enemies away with her powers for advantageous strikes.
As you hack and slash your way through enemies, your stats (health, strength, luck) naturally progress, but finding hidden Blood Coins adds a bonus boost to your stats. Also, as Jeremy and Alysa grow, perk points become available. These points go toward skills that impact your characters’ playstyle. For instance, you can increase the movement speed for Alysa, or learn the stun ability for Jeremy’s close combat. And what fun would a game about vampires be without tapping into their special powers? Both characters obtain special vampire abilities, like telekinesis, which also gain strength as the game goes on. The vampire abilities add creativity to kills, since enemies can be lifted and damaged in the air or tossed off ledges.
Blood is of the utmost importance in Blood Knights, but what’s unexpected is the twist it puts on basic gameplay. Sucking enemies’ blood is what restores your health, but Deck 13 takes the necessity of blood a step further. By letting you sacrifice some of your blood to revive a fallen teammate, it becomes a strategic element to manage. From what we played, revival seems like a hard strategic call: Can you take an enemy horde out on your own, or do you need your teammate’s help? As we experienced, sometimes sacrificing your health to revive your teammate proves more costly than beneficial.
During Blood Knights’ eight chapters, your two characters traverse dungeons and solve environmental puzzles along the way. In our demo, platforming puzzles requiring cooperation were pervasive. The good news for those playing alone is that the dungeons adjust accordingly to eliminate the co-op puzzles, even if somebody drops out. Dungeons also have plenty of loot to uncover, and no matter who opens the chest, the equipment itself goes directly into the inventory of the character it was designed for. Also, equipping different gear and weapons alters the look of your character. If you pick up a shiny sword, expect the shine to glisten off your character’s blade.
Each of Blood Knights’ eight chapters ends with a unique boss fight. Boss battles are not about blindly attacking. For instance, until we knocked out the first boss’ healing devices, we didn’t stand a chance. We’re told the adventure should take about six to seven hours to complete, including its fully animated cutscenes and voiced dialogue. Choices you make along the way shape the tone of the ending.
Blood Knights releases on October 31 for $15. Could this be your forum to live out your vampire dreams? Get your vampire powers high enough and you can levitate a whole room of enemies. Let’s see Edward do that.