Before playing Bloodforge I had read a number of disapproving reviews, published around the time of release back in April 2012. The reviews were all fairly similar; complaints about the camera angle, the repetitive fighting-sequences and the lack of a better story line.
There was no doubt in my mind that this game wasn’t the industry’s favourite… alas I started playing with an open mind and you know what – I really enjoyed it.
I’ll agree with the majority in saying that Climax Group haven’t created the most imaginative title here. It’s gore-fest fighting and generic cries of strength and anger are all reminiscent of hundreds of hack-and-slash games gone by. It’s been described as “a Celtic take on God of War“… and yeah, I’d probably agree with that to. But there’s a reason Bloodforge follows the creed of X, X, X, Y, Y, Y button bashing titles – it’s because these are what gamers want! If I knew I could get a God of War-esque experience on my Xbox, then Bloodforge would’ve been in my active download list a lot sooner!
The story is (as ever) one of revenge, hatred, anger, death and misery – nice and compelling. The deer-skull wearing protagonist Crom, is tricked into killing his wife and cries over it for a few nights before being woken up by Celtic goddess, Morrigan. She explains to the weeping warrior that to earn his revenge he must travel to the “Bloodforge” (previously thought to have been a myth) to kill some gods. A widower muscle-machine, killing gods… sound familiar?
I’d love to say that what Bloodforge lacks in originality it makes up for in gameplay. But… no, it doesn’t. It’s basic and “samey”. The enemies and their attacks are predictable and easily fought with the traditional combination of X (for light attacks), Y (for the heavier attacks) attacks and QTEs. You can choose to upgrade any of the three special “Rune” attacks and as you progress through the game, you’ll be given a couple of different weapons to wield alongside Crom’s traditional rusted-sword; a blood-stained hammer and a pair of cheese-cutting claw-blades. Naturally, the hammer is slower but does more damage, and the claws offer a faster lower damaged attack. To be honest, even with the excitement of a different execution sequence, I found Crom’s sword to be the most trust-worthy tool to use and stuck with it.
Although reading plenty about it, I hadn’t noticed any particular fault with the camera-angles during play. I doubt a simple patch released between April 2012 and January 2013 could’ve fixed this but maybe I’m wrong. Something unique within Bloodforge was however spotted within seconds of starting the game. The artistic gradient the game is displayed in. It’s a odd kind of muddy red wash style, similar to how Zack Snyder’s 300 looked. It’s a very artistic edge to what would otherwise be a very plain looking blood-splattered battle ground.
In summary, Bloodforge doesn’t bring anything new to the Xbox Live Arcade. It’s a very generic hack-and-slash with an unhealthy addiction to the crimson liquid that flows through our veins. You’ll not feel awe inspired by how new or diverse this title feels, however – you will have fun! Lots of it. When had cutting enemies in two become a bad thing? I love seeing the limbs of my enemies 10 yards away from the twitching corpse to which they should be attached. The game will show you where to go, tell you what to do, and tell you how to do it. It requires minimal skill and includes no brain-destroying puzzles, it is simply a place to go when you’re angry. It’s the stress-ball of video games and for that we give it our applause.