Blood knights is a third person hack and slash arcade game from Deck 13, set in the ancient times of vampire myth and holy knights. Alysa and Jeremy are bound by a sorcerer’s spell and have to work together to protect the blood seal and along the way, hack anything remotely evil into tiny pieces.
The game’s set within old mountain passes, scattered bushes and trees along with medieval style villages and castles. This periodic environment sets the tone for a good ol’ bloody dose of hand-to-hand combat with Alysa and Jeremy but five minutes in you get an instinctive feeling that the game isn’t going to give you that experience. At the beginning of the game there’s a short tutorial on how to attack with Jeremy and as soon as you begin fighting you can’t help but notice the combat is lifeless as Jeremy’s normal sword attack consist of pressing the X button repeatedly.
After that there’s the special moves Jeremy can use like the Whirlwind attack and a heavy hitting leap attack, these you’ll be using often as you can see early on in the tutorial when you’re surrounded by more than two enemies they seem to break through your normal attacks far too easily. This flaw leaves you losing health before you even reach a boss fight or a situation these two characters often get themselves into, also the linear combat and lack structure to the fighting system leaves you feeling robbed early on in the game. The combat is not only bare but the enemies seem to have an unfair advantage as they’re not very smart and don’t react to interaction too well; a large group of enemies could charge in and they’ll surround you all attacking at once and it’s not easy to jump or dodge attacks.
However, with the aid of your vampiric ally, Alysa the combat starts to get a little more interesting. You’re introduced to her just after Jeremy’s tutorial as they get bound together by Bartholomew as part of the story. You can switch between them using the Y button which eases the difficulty of the game but not the linear combat as Alysa’s combat patterns seem to be the same though they have two different sets and styles of fighting. Alysa’s style of combat consists of using two crossbows and a set of special attacks that mirror those of Jeremy. Her ‘Fire Arrow’ comes in handy especially as it’s a hard hitting attack, while her grenade attack also takes off stupid amounts of damage, making her the stronger character. This upset in the balance between the characters’ abilities will often have you using Alysa instead of Jeremy as it’s so much easier to progress, which is a shame as the character switching feature in Blood Knights is a great idea.
Both characters can break certain stone walls with the vampire force push and pull ability as well as grabbing enemies then lifting them into the air to suck their blood. They can even throw in a force push to add a little more damage their attacks on the enemies. This adds a little more diversity to the combat but sadly doesn’t dent the repetitive nature of the game or fill in for the predictable plot of the game. The game does get you to choose between helping humans and helping vampires within the plot but this doesn’t go far enough to get your attention or for you to invest in either side of this war, it leaves you again, feeling a bit robbed of another feature the game has to offer.
The game basically consists of you hacking and slashing your way through waves of enemies using various attacks and weapons throughout, upgrading them and unlocking more as you progress. Your characters appearance changes depending on what you have equipped them with but, this is the only visual customisation you have in the game. You can upgrade many skills after collecting EXP like Movement Speed, Critical Hits and Fire Rate but there are some categories which the game could have done without. You can also upgrade your Attribute stats after collecting five of the hidden Blood Coins you’ll find scattered throughout the levels but this is very basic at best and doesn’t satisfy that secret collecting urge that gamers often get. While there’s a couple of puzzles scattered around each level that consist of you pressing a button or two or raising a gate to proceed, the game is very weak on the puzzle front offering no more than some meagre and small obstacles to slow you down. Unfortunately with the puzzle elements of the game being rather weak they don’t give you enough of a break from the linear combat to ease the repetitive strain the game will have on you, the puzzles then end up becoming more of a hindrance than a challenge not too far into the game.
The view can sometimes be blocked or obstructed due to the levels being quite small and linear, it can also be blocked by trees which can lead to the odd fall to your death as a result. Even though the basic concept of the game appears to be fairly original, when it comes to the overall control system and pattern of play, it doesn’t seem to want to break past what we have already seen and played in the past numerous times