Blood Alloy: Reborn Review | MOUSE n JOYPAD


If there’s one type of game I hate, then it’s got to be the ones where potential is clearly visible and yearning to break through, only to fall short due to the game’s objective faults. It’s easy to praise a good game, and it’s even easier to drive a bad one into the ground; fun, even. Criticising a game where something just doesn’t click right is a wholly different matter, though, and sometimes it makes me queasy, even. It’s not that Blood Alloy: Reborn is bad, it’s just that its core mechanics never seem to fall into place and work in tandem.


Charge attacks are ALWAYS a good idea.

After reviewing hundreds of games, you develop a certain hunch about the products you’re scrutinizing. For example, the amount of care and effort invested into a game’s main menu can often speak volumes about the rest of the experience, and from the get go, it’s clear that something is off in Blood Alloy. The main menu and its subsequent contents are all bare-bones and lacking interactivity. Disregarding the lack of mouse support for a moment, the way elements of the menu are spread around, as well as the placement of your current hi-score tell you quite a lot about the rest of the game, but I first ignored all of that, hoping that I would be proven wrong soon enough. And for a moment, it truly believed so. The tutorial, as basic as it may be, offers a small insight into the inner workings of Blood Alloy, and it seems glorious at first. Directional melee, evades with i-frames, extremely speedy dashing along the platforms and everything else made me wonder if my first impression was entirely wrong, and then the game actually began and everything fell apart.

Firstly, it’s important to say that the core of Blood Alloy’s gameplay is very intense and fun, and may well hook some of those who decide to invest in the title. What I mentioned above is all there and works, in theory, allowing you to effortlessly dash between enemies – cutting the ones that are close to pieces and destroying the ones that are further away with your sidearm. Between clashes you’ll dodge ballistic projectiles, rockets and whatnot, or perhaps dash along the walls and ceilings while super charging secondary attacks to destroy your targets afterwards. And yes, all of this is as awesome as it sounds, but the way it all meshes together is less than ideal, and that’s what kills Blood Alloy.


The shiny effects are cool.

Let’s begin with the movement mechanics. The levels found in Blood Alloy are your basic platformer fare – lots of small platforms, a fair amount of verticality and perhaps a hole here or there. The thing is, to remain as mobile as you’re supposed to be, you need lots of long, flat surfaces to keep sliding on, and there has to be a way to snap from one platform to the other in a fast, efficient and – perhaps most importantly – stylish fashion. There’s no such thing here, and you’ll be losing momentum faster than you can gain it while playing. Additionally, the controls governing your character’s movements are not nearly as precise as they should be and they offer but a minimal amount of feedback as to whether you’ll connect with a platform upon jumping or not. This leads to frustration because more often than not you’ll simply be unable to make that leap you’re supposed to make to stay alive. Also concerning the matter at hand is the atrocious camera, which has too much of a personality of its own to actually be useful in combat. Most of the time, you won’t even have basic spatial awareness due to it trying to follow your mouse pointer around the screen and getting stuck in the most awkward position possible.

Again, the combat is fine in and of itself, but combined with the painful movement mechanics, it really doesn’t have enough room to shine as you’ll have plenty of trouble moving from one group of enemies to the other. In return, you’ll hardly have enough time and potentially willpower to choose how to engage the drones and other assorted killbots that are trying to take you down. The melee, arguably the best-implemented feature of Blood Alloy, is also stunted by the overly restrictive “stamina” meter, which will sometimes leave you defenseless after attacking but a couple of times in quick succession. And thus, for the most part, Blood Alloy: Reborn is an exercise in frustration. And I would have labeled it a bad game had there not have been moments of greatness in this mess of a game.

See, when everything falls into place and works as it’s clearly supposed to, Blood Alloy will remind you of Vanquish, Strider and Metal Gear Revengeance all at once – in 2D. Those pesky flying drones will fall under a flurry of hot plasma and the more durable walkers will get a taste of your cyborg’s sword at close range; preferably in slow-motion. Then a boss will attack, and you’ll fly around the prick, nibbling at its defenses only to crash it down in a glorious moment of gratification. These ‘fall-into-place’ moments happen often enough for me to grant the game a rather high score in terms of gameplay, considering all of its faults, but they’re still impossible to ignore. The phenomenal soundtrack and solid visuals amp the whole thing up a tad bit, so it’s not all bad.

But let’s get back to criticism, because I’ve got more to dish out. As if finicky gameplay wasn’t enough of an issue, Blood Alloy: Reborn is strangely anemic as well. There’s no story to be found here; you’re just chasing for the next high-score on a selection of three moderately-sized levels, unlocking additional equipment, songs and whatnot. That’s literally all there is to it. And I could even forgive this transgression if the gameplay were to be as good as it’s supposed to be, which it isn’t. And regarding the leaderboards – if you were hoping to chase your friends’ high-scores, you can forget about that entirely, as the game doesn’t have any online functionality at all. Yes, you essentially are left to play the game entirely alone, which takes away from the basic premise of Reborn – to chase high-scores. Because what else could it be? Gameplay for gameplay’s sake? I don’t think so. Unlocking additional content? There’s not nearly enough content for that to be a viable option.

So you see, there’s plenty wrong with Blood Alloy: Reborn, and that makes me sad because I got to experience it when it all works perfectly, which is way too rare for me to recommend the game on basis of that alone.