Ah Vampires. They’ve had a bizarre past. It would seem that no official rules are too sacred to be broken anymore, as they now come in many varieties, from classic and sparkly, to simple mindless monsters. Deck 13, a company from Germany, are trying their hand at their own version of the mythical beasts in the form of Blood Knights. Do they succeed or does it…suck? (sorry).

Taking place in a mythical land that is sort of our world but not really, the story is about a prolific Vampire hunter named Jeremy, who is part of an expedition to seal the magical macguffin, I mean Blood Seal, from a group of Vampires who are trying to steal it in order to destroy humanity. In a desperate attempt to succeed, the priest of the group performs an ancient dark art which joins the soul of Jeremy to a Vampire named Alysa, forming an uneasy alliance. However, once Jeremy is turned into a vampire and abandoned by his own men, he sets off on a journey with Alysa to complete his mission, remove the bond that has been created and find a way to become human again.

The story is a very mixed bag, though quite frankly starts off bad

The story is a very mixed bag, though quite frankly starts off bad

The story is a very mixed bag, though quite frankly starts off bad. You are thrown into a tomb with little to no context or even any idea where you are and with no reason to care about anything that is going on. The bond between the two main leads should be the driving force of the game but Alysa, despite being forced against her will to perform these actions, never seems to speak up in protest. It is implied at one point that she is being mind-controlled by the priest, but this is never brought up again. Also, to put it delicately, Jeremy is a prick. Obnoxious and annoyingly arrogant, he also seems to be a bit stupid, he’s quick to call people “Vampire Scum” though seems to forget the fact that he is also a Vampire. There are a number of occasions where this happens and he rarely gets called up on it.

There also seems to be an overall lack of polish as well though, as lines are repeated, people ask questions despite just being told the answer and much of the dialogue seems lost in translation. For the longest time, this is all the game really has going for it story-wise in a “so bad it’s funny” sort of way. But then after a while, something strange happens. It’s almost as if the game becomes self-conscious and aware of its flaws and starts addressing them. The two main characters start conversing more, disagreeing with each other and even exchanging in some light banter. The plot is given more drive and focus and there are a few choices left for the player to make. It’s still a shame that Alysa seems to just be along for the ride, but after a while their relationship starts to work (if only a little).

Bear with the story, it does improve

Bear with the story, it does improve

Blood Knights has a fairly camp tone which suits the game well. From the overdramatic pose that the Priest takes when casting spells to the maniacal religious ramblings of the final boss who wants to “purge the world and send people into the arms of the church”. That being said, Jeremy’s time with a Vampire does help the story draw certain “race issue” parallels which could have been better explored if we actually knew more about the characters.

All in all, the story is much more interesting once the characters actually start getting invested in it. Though certain elements are never fully explained (why is Alysa doing this in the first place? Also why does nobody care that Jeremy now has to kill his former friend?) but by the end I was partially sold. The ending also suggests the possibility of a sequel, which to be honest, I would probably play.

The combat is all about the hack and slash in Blood Knights. You can control both (separately) characters with Jeremy behaving like a battle tank who charges into enemies with overwhelming force while Alysa would rather stay away from enemies and shoot with her crossbow. You unlock more powers as the game goes on including the ability to suck blood and pull down pillars to flatten enemies.

Combat starts of good but, again in a very strange twist, becomes pretty darn good as it goes on

Combat starts of good but, again in a very strange twist, becomes pretty darn good as it goes on

Combat starts of good but, again in a very strange twist, becomes pretty darn good as it goes on. It’s fast, responsive and satisfying. The health bars are maybe a little too low as one or two hits will have you running for cover causing you to play cautiously (perhaps a little too cautiously for a hack and slash) but overall it’s solid stuff that could easily get old, but with a runtime of 5 hours or less, there isn’t much chance of the game outstaying its welcome.

It’s not perfect though. Except for the standard quick attack, every move you have comes with a cool down, even standard attacks like “heavy strike” or “fire arrows”. I can’t quite wrap my head around why this is the case. I can understand wanting to limit the player simply spamming the best attacks but more often than not I found myself hitting the buttons with no real feedback which can be frustrating. Also, as is expected in this type of game, the camera can be dreadful, it seems only God of War can get away with taking camera control away from the player in a game like this.

The game also has coop which I’m ashamed to say, due to the tight deadline I had whilst reviewing, I never had a chance to properly test out. Though that truly seems to be where the heart of the game is, as the banter between characters seems increased and there are platforming segments that revolve around using coop abilities. However, disappointingly you can’t play online. Should you choose to play alone though, you’ll have the option of changing character at the press of a button. This works better than I would’ve thought and found myself changing somewhat often to best suit the situation.

Boss encounters are usually little more than buffed up enemies with larger life bars, though in an age where many boss encounters are simply about finding weak spots or even just carrying out tasks, they are somewhat refreshing. Hardly memorable or even particularly great, but still enjoyable.

Both characters play very differently and to me, that’s a massive plus. Jeremy is the true hack n slash king while playing as Alysa feels more like a shooter as you run (away from) and gun your enemies. There is very little variety on show, but what is here is fun.

Despite starting off rather dull and ploddingly, it soon develops into a fun romp

Despite starting off rather dull and ploddingly, it soon develops into a fun romp

The game isn’t much of a looker, with mostly drab, murky environments to work with in dingy caves and narrow paths. The character models fair slightly better, with unique looks for all the key players, making them stand out from the crowd. That being said, the design of the women needs mentioning It seems that this entire world only consists of big breasted women who feel that less is more in the clothes department. Given the tone of the game I’m hardly going to sabre rattle on this one, but it is still strange and somewhat childish. The music works, especially the final boss music which got me quite stirred up. Though to be honest I’d much rather talk about the voice acting, it’s all over the freaking place. At times it is truly dreadful, earnest enough but either through sound editing or translation, some of the lines are hilarious. My favorites include:

  • “I suggest we don’t talk anymore. What’s your name anyway?”
  • “I can’t kill her, she’s too hot”
  • (Last but not least) “The Priest’s repetitive use of the line “Before we start, let me use my healing powers”.

I think I may have discovered one of the best party games ever (that isn’t actually a party game). To begin with, you’ll laugh at the bad lines and acting, though after a while, the great gameplay and even the dynamic of the characters will win you over. It certainly did for me. Despite starting off rather dull and ploddingly, it soon develops into a fun romp. It’s by no means classic but is still damn good fun, I might even jump back in with a friend. Not all the positives feel intentional, but when you’re having fun who the hell cares?

Review: Blood Knights
What we loved
  • Combat is great fun
  • Caters to both solo and coop very well
  • Variety in characters
What we hated
  • Much is lost in translation
  • Takes a while to get interesting
  • Laugh out loud funny (both positive and negative)
70%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
0%

About The Author

I love me some games. RPGs, action, adventure all that stuff. I also write: http://www.facebook.com/ManFeelingsComedy.