Review: Blood: Fresh Supply (PC – Steam) ~ He lives AGAIN.

Blood_logoWikipedia entry – Steam linkSteam link
The Build Engine. One of the biggest game engines ever created in 3D shooter history. Three landmark titles have been created in that engine called Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior and today’s topic: Blood. Back in the day, I used to download a lot of old archived shareware or demo versions of old DOS games. In one of these adventures, I downloaded the demo for the legendary Blood, and I was hooked. At the time, things like Steam weren’t what they are today and I still was in secondary school (high school for you Americans) and too young to start a holiday job. Then, on one summer Steam sale, I found this game for a rather cheap price and I thought: “Why not.”. So, I bought the game for €1 and moved on with my day. Then, COVID-19 happened last year, and I was looking through my game library to play after work. I booted up Blood, and it got my top 10 games of 2020 list. Why did I give this game a spot on my top 10 games list? What did I like so much about this game to place it on that list? Let’s find out together while I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your thoughts/opinions on the content of the article and/or the game.

He lives AGAIN

Blood 1In this game, you take on the role of Caleb. Caleb has a reputation for being a merciless gunfighter from the Midwest. Caleb is a servant of the god Tchernobog and his minions called ‘The Cabal’. Now, for some reason, our “friendly” god kills Caleb and his fellow chosen for whatever reason and dumps Caleb in a grave. Caleb rises up from his grave several years later, and he is looking for vengeance of course.

Like your typical old school 3D shooters, the story isn’t the main focus of this game. Most of the story in this game is told through cutscenes at the start and end of a chapter and the environment that you are going through. Speaking about which, there is are  a lot of moments like: you start on the train you that you crashed in the previous level. The whole game feels interconnected due to small details like that.

There are a few cutscenes in the game that enhance the story by a little. The reason I’m saying only a little is that the total runtime of these cutscenes is give or take only 5 minutes. Which is a shame, since the cutscenes really added to the atmosphere of the game. On the other hand, I think that if this game had more cutscenes, it would overpower the gameplay and the environmental story telling.

There is voice acting in this game. Of course, you have your typical enemy shouting that is as immersive as the cowboy shouting from Outlaws. You also have your wise-cracking main character Caleb voiced by Stephan Weyte. Stephan also did voice work for one of my favorite edutainment companies Humongous Entertainment. He voiced several side characters in the Pajama Sam and Freddi Fish games. Before I start rambling about unrelated things for this review, I have to say that Stephan killed it with his performance in this game. His delivery is extremely memorable, and I love his voice work for this game. A fun fact is that the voice acting for our evil god has been done by the executive producer Jace Hall.

Should you play Blood for the story? Oh, heavens no. Don’t misunderstand me here, the story of this game is fine, but it is far from the best story you can experience in a shooter. The story is there to set the mood and set up the atmosphere of this game and to help you immerse yourself in the game. But, nothing more nothing less.

Now, if we check on the Blood Wiki on the amount of different versions and ports that this game got we learn that there are two versions of this game on Steam. You have Blood – Fresh Supply and Blood – One Unit Whole Blood. At the moment of writing, the “One Unit Whole Blood” version has been removed from Steam and the “Fresh Supply” version is still up for sale. I found a nice forum post about the biggest differences on the GOG.com forums between the two versions. As the title suggests, I played Fresh Supply for this review.

Crazy cultists

Blood 3I don’t think I have to explain what you have to do in old school 3D shooter games. You have to fight various enemies, find keys to open doors, do some platforming and solve some puzzles. Personally, I compare this game in a way to games like Heretic and Duke Nukem 3D. It’s an old school 3D shooter with amazing weapons and power ups to aid you in your battle against your enemies. There are a lot of different enemies with their own attack sound, strengths, and weaknesses.

Most of the weapons in this game has a secondary fire mode. For example, the double barred shotgun secondary fire shoots both bullets at once or the Tommy gun’s second fire let out a burst of bullets where you swing the weapon back and forth. You can even use one weapon as a turret and another weapon is a voodoo doll.

But the most iconic weapon in Blood is the dynamite. There are big differences in terms of the dynamite you can use. You have your normal dynamite, proximity, and dynamite you can remotely detonate. Depending on the chosen difficulty, the skill to use your weapons and especially dynamite is essential to your survival. I can’t count how many times I had to resort to dynamite to “thin out the herd”.

Speaking about the difficulty, if you aren’t too familiar with all Blood’s mechanics and secrets and different routes, I don’t advise the higher difficulty settings. I have to admit that I’m not the most skilled player when it comes to shooters and I had an extremely hard time with the medium setting. Get used to the mechanics of this game before you play on the highest difficulty settings and thank me later. The game is otherwise too frustrating for newcomers.

Earlier, I said that this game feels quite interconnected due to the level design. That start of the level represents the previous level. Most of the levels have a sort of linear design. You have to backtrack quite rarely. Yet, I found myself stuck in a few levels and the map system, while impressive, was far from helpful. Now, in terms of map systems, I think I might be spoiled by the more modern design methods where the key door locations are marked on your map.

Sadly enough, there are some moments that the level design wasn’t the best. For example, I found one or two spots where you can get soft locked. But more annoyingly, I found some monster rooms quite annoying since the exit gets locked, and you have to go switch hunt. I think these moments could have benefitted from Caleb saying: “Where is the switch” when interacting with the door.

This game is controlled through mouse and keyboard. While this game has controller support, I only played this game through mouse and keyboard. I didn’t have any problems with the controls and felt they worked amazingly. After a minor bit of tweaking to fit the AZERTY lay-out better that we use here in Belgium, I was able to master the responsive controls.

Visually, this game still looks fine. The visual improvements you can choose to either enable or disable are a great way to choose between the vanilla textures and the newer “more modern” visuals. Of course, this game really shows its age in the visual department but, that isn’t a bad thing for this game. I still find that the visual atmosphere is created amazingly, and I feel that the world still feels somewhat real and alive.

Something that truly impressed me are the animations. The animations in this game are a masterclass in how animations should look in shooter games. Enemies that get shot in the legs crawl towards you and keep shooting, enemies set on fire with a flare run around crazily… And that are just two examples.

Very rarely, I found some visual glitches. In one level there was some Z-fighting with a pillar switch. (Z-Fighting is when two textures overlap and the game can’t decide which one to show, so it flickers in between them.) In some spots, the shells of the Tommy gun vanished. These moments were thankfully rare and didn’t impact gameplay too much.

Dynamite

Blood 2The sound design in this game is extremely important. If you don’t pay attention to the well crafted sound effects, you might miss some important enemy cues especially from the zombies. Since those don’t die right away from the weaker weapons. So, yeah, heard of hearing and deaf people are disavantaged when it comes to this game.

Sadly enough, the soundtrack could have been better. I feel that it’s too short and for some reason, it bugged out during my playthrough and it didn’t always play. While I was writing this section of the review, I was listening to the soundtrack on YouTube and I heard some tracks I haven’t heard in the game. While the music in itself is quite good and adds a lot to the atmosphere but it being only around 30 minutes, I felt that the soundtrack is too short for the game’s length.

This game has the perfect length for a shooter game like this. This game packs all the expansion packs so that means that a casual playthrough might take you around 10-ish hours. If you want to go for 100% you might be able to double that. But, this game gets so much more challenging and rewarding when you play it on higher difficulty settings so you might be able to get a lot more hours out of it than that.

Now, there is one thing in terms of the UI I really didn’t like. That’s the weapon wheel / ammo system. Let me explain. In the bottom center, you can see how much ammo you have for your weapons. Just like in other shooters from that time period, you have no idea which number corresponds with which weapon. It still shows “0″ even when you don’t have that weapon. The weapon wheel also doesn’t really show well to which weapon it’s going to switch since, it’s a wheel. When you pass the last weapon, it goes back to the first.

There is one thing I feel that the game totally dropped the ball on. And that’s the saving system. It’s not that the saving system doesn’t work, but it’s extremely bare bones. This game uses manual saving. There is no checkpoint saves when you enter a new level, but that isn’t such a big problem. I don’t mind manually saving once in a while I enter a new level or passed a difficult section. What I do mind is that the load system doesn’t give you ANY information in which level the save is. On top of that, you only have a limited amount of save slots and no visual information when you successfully saved the game. I worked around it by naming my saves with the level name like: “E1M3” (Episode 1 Map 3) and some additional info, but it shouldn’t be such a pain. Thankfully, we have a way better system now-a-days.

A minor thing that I really didn’t like in this game is the respawn mechanic. Of course, when you die, you are going to respawn at the start of the level with only your pitchfork. No problem there. But, the issue is in my opinion that the reloading just take a bit too long for my liking. It’s always faster to load your save from the pause menu then waiting on the game to respawn you. It might also save you some frustration since “pitchfork starting” isn’t always the most enjoyable way to play some levels.

This game also has Steam Achievements. These were a whole lot of fun to try and get. After I had beaten the game, I got 6 out of the 20 achievements. I could have gotten more but for some reason, my game glitched out and some achievements are still locked. Oh well, all the more reason for me to play through the game again at a later date.

There is quite a long list of references in this game. While I was 5 years old at the time of the original release, I had to admit I was able to pick up on several references. Maybe my love for retro games and retro media might have helped me out quite a lot there.

Oh, before I forget, there is a multiplayer mode in this game. I’m sorry but I haven’t played it at all so I’m not going to comment on it. But, from what I have read and seen, you both have your typical death match gameplay and a way to play through the campaign in a co-op fashion. That is sounding quite interesting for when I can let friends come over again.

And with that said, I think it’s high time for me to wrap up this review. I have said almost everything I wanted to say about this game and before I ramble on and on, I’m going to wrap up this article in a neat conclusion like I usually do for my review articles.

Conclusion time

The good:

+ Amazing shooter with replay value.

+ Easy to learn but oh so difficult to master.

+ Still good looking after all these years.

+ Amazing audio design.

+ …

The bad:

-The save and load system isn’t the best.

-The weapon wheel is a bit broken.

-Some softlocks / switch hunting moments.

Final thoughts:

Blood is a game that came out in 1997. This game is almost 25 years old and I have to say that this game still holds up amazingly well. The visual improvements that the Fresh Supply remake brings to the table are amazing. It gives a breath of fresh air in an already amazing game.

While I was researching this game, I found several video’s by one of my favorite YouTubers Civvie11. The release of this remake wasn’t the best. Thankfully, through the years, the game got various patches and updates that improved the game quite a lot to the point that I barely noticed the points that Civvie gave in his original “Blood: Fresh Supply is broken” video.

Apart from some flaws, this game holds up amazingly well. I knew that Blood had a high reputation when I started playing it and I was so happy when the game didn’t dissapoint me at all. Of course, I encountered some jank because this game isn’t the newest but that’s to be expected.

Would I recommend this game to people who enjoy shooters? Absolutely. This game gets an easy recommendation from me. The game costs only 8,2€ here and let me tell you, you can play a lot worse games for that price. The few issues this game have can be taken care off and they won’t hinder your playthrough too much. Is Blood one of the best retro game shooters? Easy answer, yes. Yes, it is. It’s as good as the original Doom, Heretic, Hexen, Duke Nukem and if you enjoy retro games and especially shooters it should be a crime to not at least give this game a try.

And with that said, I have said everything I wanted to say about this game. I want to thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article and until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Score: 95 / 100

Review: Ace Attorney – Miles Edgeworth – Investigations: Prosecutor’s Path (DS) ~ Not Guilty

AAI2CoverenglishAce Attorney Wikia entry

Some time ago, I wrote a first impression on this game. I know it has been way too long, but I finally finished this game. So, the readers who know me; know what that means! No need to shout an objection! Is it actually good or is it bad? Keep in mind, this game isn’t officially in English. I played a fan translated English rom. If you want to play this game as well, I won’t help you finding it. Piracy is something I don’t want to promote. In any case, let’s get this trail started! And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and or the content of this article. 

Objection!

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Would it be wise of me to talk about the story when it’s translated by fans? I think it’s actually quite fair to do so. After all, the English players will most likely play this game using the patched rom. Like I (should have) said earlier, I won’t provide information on how to get it.

In any case, the story is written quite well. I actually enjoyed reading and experiencing it. The care and love put into the translation is mind blowing. I haven’t seen any typos as far as I can remember. (And that’s an impressive feet since the main games actually have typos in the game.)

The characters are quite memorable and they have a nice personality. Some old characters return and a few new ones are introduced. In Ace Attorney 5 – Dual Destinies, the actual character development happens mostly in the 5th and last case. But in this game, the character development happens in every case. More then in the 5th game.

Every case was fun to play through. At certain moments, it was tough to keep track of everything since the final case actually somewhat connects to the previous four. If you would play this game, either play it in one go or take notes so you can remember. Otherwise some parts of the story actually get a bit lost.

What really surprised me is that they actually replaced the Japanese voices with the English voices. The voice acting of Miles was simple to get I assume. Just from the previous Miles Edgeworth game. But for the other actors, well, congrats. You did an amazing job. The quality of the voices is also extremely well done. Almost as if they were made in a professional studio.

Gameplay wise, this game is almost the same as in the original. There is one addition, which is logic chess. This is a sort of logic battle where to try and get information out of somebody. It’s more fast paced and it’s the only thing that is timed in the game. Compare it to Phoenix Wright’s breaking of psyche locks or Apollo’s bracelet. The good thing is that it’s well used, but not overused in the game. Truth to be told, it are the most challenging parts in the game in my opinion.

A scoop of a story.

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Alright, visually this game is what you would expect from an Ace Attorney game. Nicely crafted visuals. Again, thank you to the translation team to actually put in the effort to photoshop the art and make it in English. The game is nice to look at. It makes the game that more memorable.

Animation-wise, this game is one of my favorites. While I know for a fact, some things won’t be possible in the real world, the creative approach that the designers took payed off. It really makes the game pop a bit more. It also felt a bit more alive and polished.

The controls, well, if you have problems or complaints in the previous game… They will be here too. If you got used to them, you will feel right at home here. They are responsive and I have nothing to complain about. Only one minor thing and that is in the translation, some controls get explained a bit too late. But that’s only a very minor nitpick.

The music and sound effects, well, they are in my opinion, the weakest link in this game. Don’t get me wrong, it is enjoyable music. But when I’m listening to music from the series, I rarely to go the soundtrack of this game. It just doesn’t want to stick with me enough like with the previous games. The sound effects add to the atmosphere and none stood out as a sore thumb.

No creativity anymore for subtitles.

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Length wise, this game hits that rare butter zone. Apart from the 5th case which was a bit too long, I have no complaints about the length.

Until now, I have been praising this game. And in the end, apart from some minor text issues with the translation like the text that sometimes not appears when you load your game or open your DS or that you can already skip most of the dialogue that you haven’t read… Those issues might all get fixed when the patch isn’t in beta anymore.

The game is a bit on the easy side if you played a lot of Ace Attorney games. Even then, I got stuck on some parts and rethink everything. I could try the “save and try out everything technique” but that’s lame. If you find things out by yourself, its way more rewarding.

Before I go to my conclusion, I think the translation team did an amazing job. I would like to thank them for the amazing translation they did. They also added their names in to the credits. Which is a really nice touch.

If you know how to patch roms and find translations online, I really recommend patching this game to English and playing it. Hopefully, Capcom never does this again with any Ace Attorney game. In any case… I think I have said everything I wanted to say about this game. So, let’s go right on to the conclusion.

Conclusion

The good:

+ The visuals are amazing just like the last games.

+ Perfect translation of this game. The care and love put into this project really shows.

+ Lovely and thrilling story with a true unexpected end.

+ ….

The bad:

– The music is a bit so-so

– Some minor bugs in the translation.

– The game didn’t come over to the west. Such a shame!

– The 5th case was a bit too long to my taste.

Final thoughts:

So, I think this patch was really well done. They replaced all the voice work, the artwork and the text into English. Not only that, they made it bit more interesting to the Western audience. Besides from some minor glitches and one freeze, I think this game is really well crafted.

While I played the beta version of the patch, I didn’t encounter any major issues that would stop me from enjoying the game. Besides the things I mentioned in the article of course.

If only, they release this to the west one day. So, I can buy this game and that I can recommend this game to my readers. It’s really worth it! As any Ace Attorney game actually.

So, I think it’s time to wrap this one up. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. And I hope to be able to welcome you in another article. But until then, game on!

Score: 90 / 100