Crom was a warrior, killing thousands in relentless wars. Then he stopped fighting, maintaining his physique by slaughtering deer and feeding them to his loving wife. One day, he shares a vision with the rudest of the gods, who takes full-blown umbrage at the prophecy that Crom will be his undoing. One thing leads to another, and Crom finds himself newly single, and back on an endless blood-strewn warpath.
Endless is rarely a positive thing. Bloodforge has some brilliant moments of horrific design, including a huge Cyclopic automaton, which gets his laser eye winched open by his riders. And the game feels initially promising, with the basics of a Devil May Cry brawler in place. But in practice, it makes ten minutes feels like a miserable forever.
Your moves are clumsy, and unresponsive. Arenas wear you out, rather than challenge you. Boss battles are overwrought and underwhelming. The God at the climax of the Land of the Dead is defeated by a drawn-out process of ranged health-whittling and dodge-rolling.
Frustratingly, there's no way to focus on who you're attacking - occasionally, you'll move your thumbstick towards one character, only to find that the game attacks in a different direction. Combined with a cameraman who's suffering from an overdose of salvia and glucose syrup, the combat never once twitches the needle on the funometer. Shame, because the combat is all there is.
You do have other moves. Mana can be used slowly to boost your attacks, or in big chunks to summon help from one of three gods. You can spend the rage you build while fighting on a time-limited period of powerful bullet-time attacks. And you get new weapons. A hammer lets you go strong and slow, and a set of clawed gauntlets help you build quick, light combos. Upgrades to these weaopns, and your sword and bow unlock new combos.
If, after an hour of slicing open the soles of your feet, your torturer decided that he was going to remove your eyelids, it'd certainly be a change. But it wouldn't make your stay in his dungeon any more pleasurable. In the same way, these features don't make Bloodforge any more enjoyable or engaging. The Blood Duel feature adds a spectre of asynchronous competition, judging your performance alongside a randomly or manually selected friend. In reality, it's just a way of finding out exactly when they got bored, and stopped playing. Chances are, that won't take too long.
Bleached of colour, personality and fun
- Some excellent enemy design
- Sickening camera
- Unsatisfying combat
- Wearisome boss battles
- "Blood Duel" is meaningless