Developer: Monolith Productions (1997)
Genre: First person shooter/action
Publisher: GT Interactive
Requirements: P75; 16 MB RAM; 80 MB Disc Space; 100% Soundblaster compatable card; MS-DOS 6.2
"I Live Again!"
These words welcome you into the dark and disturbing world of Blood! You rise from the grave to rid the world of the Cabal, a plague of evil upon the planet lead by Tchernobog, whom you have sworn to take vengeance upon for stealing your humanity when all you gave was devotion. Your name is Caleb, a gunfighter from Texas born in 1847, and you once fell in love Ophelia Price of the order of Tchernobog but you were both killed for reasons you wish to discover.
That is the storyline as far as I can make out, although the whole thing is a little vague. The development team say that they were inspired by the works of Stephen King, Clive Barker, Edgar Allen Poe, Sam Raimi, George Romero, John Carpenter, and H.P. Lovecraft. They wanted to make an inherently dark game with a psychological element as well as it being traditionally scary. I wouldn't like to say that they succeeded, but it scares the hell out of me every time I play it!
Kill everything which moves! Zombies, gargoyles, rats, mimes... everything! The title of the game gives it all away; it is a gorefest from start to finish and don't make the mistake of not killing something because it might not hurt you... put a couple of rounds in just in case. Gameplay is simple, classic and hard! If you consider yourself fairly good at FPS games then see how long you last on Blood. Enemies are fairly powerful and surprisingly accurate, not to mention the fact that you have to keep checking to see if a zombie is actually dead or just taking a break. Ammunition is, initially at least, in very short supply forcing you to use the entire range of unorthodox weapons (See weapons section) and not just running round with a shotgun in your hands which would be favoured in DOOM (ID).
Enemy AI is primitive at best, and can be related to the sort of level seen in Duke 3D. Some enemies will charge right at you, some move in then move away again, and other change their stance forcing you to make use of the full up and down aiming available in the game. There are the traditional items such as night vision, medikits, jumping boots etc. but I think these just get in the way of gameplay as you try and remember which key you assigned to each item.
Level design is one aspect which really sets this game apart from some of the others around at the time. The levels are full of secret areas, clever moving sectors and just generally attention to detail in a time where many other games were lacking. One of the best examples of a Blood level is the unforgettable train level (E1M3) with all the action taking place on a moving train. The game is split up into 4 episodes:
- The Way of All Flesh
- Even Death May Die
- Farewell to Arms
- Dead Reckoning
Controls can be configured to pretty much anyway you want, this includes mouse-look keyboard combos which were difficult on some games of that time. I warn you to check your key setup carefully, there are many commands used in the game and it is possible to bind two or more commands to one key without noticing. There is even the option of a parental lock although this is pretty much pointless, as it just seems to turn off the blood squirting out of your victims. Corpses, bloodstains and excessive violence are all still much a part of the game even with the lock on.
"I'm gonna paint the town … RED!"
As I mentioned before Blood is a twisted game. You start in a cemetery and move through most possible locations: Gothic cathedrals, ships, the fairground, towns, prison and some places I'm not even sure where they are supposed to be (probably some dark corner of hell), systematically cleansing the earth of the Cabal. This is a game full of dark humour and great lines by the protagonist, such as walking into a funeral chapel muttering "Open for business". In true Duke 3D style anything vaguely interesting might have a sound attached to it so use your 'action' button excessively. Blood takes the most innocent places and makes them into a nightmare. The fairground is a good example: Try kicking heads into a large mouth shaped goal to win a prize, or see the freak show full of body parts and a dismembered hand (which will try and strangle you). All these elements make you question if this is a darkly funny game or just a horrific game which your warped sense or humour finds funny. The sound is an essential part of this environment so make sure you have the volume up. One enemy in particular called the cultist (Basically an insane monk with either a shotgun or Tommy gun) yells some sort of foreign language at you whilst unloading shells in your direction and will haunt you with those screams.
Everything which you thought was innocent can be turned into something horrific in blood and this is probably the reason why anyone remembers it!
Blood was created using a slightly tweaked version of the Duke 3D Build engine. It has a little less trouble with rooms upon rooms and a few 'fancy' lighting options, but essentially it is the same framework. All enemies and game sprites are flat with multiple versions of each depending on your viewpoint. It is for this reason that enemies never look entirely 3D, but at the time of creation it was the tried and tested method which had been used to great success in all the build engine games and others (mostly the DOOM derivatives). It looks dated now, but it does the job!
Some fairly inventive weapons which seem appropriate for the setting. Most of the weapons have an alternative-firing mode which was a fairly new concept at the time of production. All weapons are listed below with the primary and alternative firing mode:
-Pitchfork - Stab opponent
-Flare Gun - Set fire to opponent
- Flame explosion
-Shotgun - Each barrel individually
- Both barrels
-Tommy gun - Rapid fire
- Rapid fire spray left to right
-Rocket launcher - Fires rockets
-TNT + Lighter - Light, throw and explodes on impact
- Light, throw in your own time, explode when fuse runs out
-Proximity TNT - Explodes when something gets too close to it
-Remote TNT - Throw and blow up remotely
- Throw multiple bombs to blow up remotely
-Aerosol can + lighter - Flame-thrower
- Flame grenade
-Electric Blaster - Rapid fire
- Big blast (require charge)
-Skull Staff - Umm... Flames + stuff
-VooDoo Doll - Stab (This can hurt you!)
- Disintegrate opponent
In addition to this there is a guns akimbo
powerup which lets you wield two of certain types of guns. Try it with the Tommy guns using the alternate fire.
Well it is not the greatest game in the world and if you don't like the idea of playing now what is an old game then this is not for you! However if it sounds like you might like it then at least download the shareware version to have a go (You will have to try and get it to work on your machine first, not an easy task if your under Windows XP as it is a DOS game there are guides online to help you do this, try VDMS sound). I play it for nostalgic reasons, it still makes me jump and those monks still freak me every time!
http://blood.lith.com/ (Shareware version available here as well as cheats!)
My own experience of the game