Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Blank Blood (PC)

The first thing you should probably know about Blank Blood is that it was made by and for people with an interest in a certain specialist genre of entertainment called "ryona", whose main focus is pretty girls coming to severe physical harm. It's not an interest I share, but luckily, the developers of this game weren't so consumed by their interests that they forgot to make an actual game to put them in.

It's an exploratory platform game (you could call it a Metrovania, though as far as I can tell, there's no kind of levelling up or acquisition of skills or abilities), in which a knife-weilding young woman and a gun-toting schoolgirl explore a large dungeon in search of treasure. I actually like the treasure hunting aspect: each treasure chest you find has a unique item, which are all worth a different amount of points, and they all also have little descriptions (though the descriptions are in Japanese, it's the thought that counts). The controls feel a little weak at first, but once you get used to the slightly odd collision detection and the fact that almost every gap requires a double jump, you'll be fine.

The dungeon is, of course, filled with many kinds of monsters and traps, and though the monsters start out as pretty standard fare (snakes, carnivorous plants, slimes, etc.), as you start to get a bit further in, there are some very strange, alien-looking creature lurking about. Though, the same strategy is applied to beating most of them: just repeatedly attack, and they'll probably die long before your health is low. Some of the enemies have more dangerous grapple-style attacks, that requires quick hammering of the attack button to escape, and some of these have their own unique death animations too. For example, falling into a carnivorous plant's mouth and failing to get free results in your character being shown getting digested inside the plant.

Actually, had the game's website not pointed out that it was made with the intention of attracting ryona enthusiasts as an audience, it could easily get away with being considered a 2D platform game with a lot of different animations for the main characters and more gore than usual. Different types of damage each have their own sprites, and there's also a lot of quite gory death animations, the one that most sticks in my mind is the one seen when the player dies from being impaled by a spear shooting up from the ground, leaving them twitching with the spear sticking right through their torso. Both characters also have different idle stances depending on how much remaining health they have.

There is a big downside to Blank Blood though (aside from the obvious, of course): the difficulty is not at all balanced. Certain traps seem completely impossible to get by unscathed, though there is a kind of fix, in the form of an invincibility "Debug Mode", that can be turned on and off at any time by pressing the Delete key on your keyboard, it still feels a bit weak. It's hard to say whether or not I recommend Blank Blood. It's not some nice spritework, and it's not terrible to play, but it's also a bit sleazy and there are many, many other exploration-based platformers that are much better than it. I guess it all depends on how much grim curiosity you have?
 (Thanks to tumblr user acid-eater for bringing this game to my attention)

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