Fight your way through hordes of demon summoners in this retro-inspired FPS. Bloom is a simplistic, no-nonsense, “shoot everything that moves” kind of game and it works.
Steam: Early Access
Genre: Action, FPS
Publisher: Cyberdei Games
Release date: 10 May, 2019
Bloom is an Early Access retro inspired FPS that takes it’s inspiration from various classics such as Doom, Quake, Blood, Heretic, Hexen, Duke Nukem and the rest of the ’90s FPS giants. Does it really stand up to be compared to such classics? Gather your weapons, as we embark on an adventure full of killin demons and kickin ass as we rip and tear through this game to find out! Full disclosure, the Dev provided me a key for the game, of which I am very grateful for. However he challenged me to play the game on the “Challenging” difficulty. The joke’s on him though, I was at going to at first, but then I decided to play on the “FPS God” difficulty cause I’m a glutton for punishment!
So let’s get this out of the way, if you are expecting Bloom to be something like DUSK or AMID EVIL in terms of being a retro shooter…well, you will simply be disappointed. This game is rough around the edges, and pretty ugly… It’s the gameplay that holds it up as it’s solid and a blast to play through! It definitely feels like an indie fps game. If you wanted a great shooter that involves lots of killing demons with lots of weapon choices, you’ve come to the right place! What does Bloom have to offer? Well, let’s break it down! Bloom will have Two Episodes, with it being in Early Access there is only the first Episode to play, but fear not as the maps are big and offer tons of variety that just gets better and better the further you go. There are also plans for an “Endless Mayhem” mode as the Dev has stated.
Knee Deep In Bloom
From the main menu, I will agree that it’s pretty ugly, which is something that doesn’t change throughout the game sadly. There are some settings you can play around with like disabling the black outline that everything has and general graphical settings, though I wish there were more options to be disabled, as there are some frame rate issues in some areas. Regarding the frame rate issues, I found are that if you re-load a save it did tend to help stabilize it again. Originally, there was some major motion blur (see pic below) and a low FOV that made me VERY sick while trying to play the game originally. I made a post in the Bloom Steam discussion forums and voiced my concern about it. Amazingly the Dev responded and added an option to disable the motion blur and change the FOV! THANK, GOD! If the Dev refused to even remove the motion blur I would have never been able to play the game. Thankfully the Dev has been very active in improving this game, and this is a great plus! It shows the Dev is willing to take feedback and improve on his game. I know it is partially because the game is Early Access, but he’s going back to fix bugs and improve, and you have to give props where it counts! The game also lets you be able to save whenever you want, and have multiple save files, which is very handy!
The first and second maps are pretty boring as they don’t do much that is interesting. The game doesn’t start to pick up until you get to the third map where things begin to feel like they are thought out more and built better along with some experimentation. The first area starts in a forest-like mountain area with demons and cultists hiding in the trees ready to ambush you, then you enter a set of mining caves on the second level. It’s when you hit level three where you find a couple of buildings in a mountain area that it gets interesting. Right after that area, you can see a church in the background up the mountain and enter a fleshy demon hell hole. I do enjoy that all the maps offer exploration and no hand holding. They also have some backtracking, but nothing really major. Mostly it consists of, “hey you got the key now you can go back and open that door” areas. I did mention that the “Exit” switches were not very obvious, and the Dev said he was planning on making it more obvious in the near future. Do you like secrets? Well, don’t you worry as there are secrets! It wouldn’t be a retro FPS without secrets! Find a hidden switch, well it will then open up a hidden door to get a powerful weapon, or some mega health or armor.
One issue I had was the levels sound somewhat empty. If you were to turn the music off, there was just a whole lot of nothing! I did mention to the Dev that he should add some sounds to the world to give it a little bit of life. Like when you are in the first world with all the trees, you would expect to hear the sound of the trees creaking and what not. The Dev said he will be adding such things into the game in the future.
On The Shores of Bloom
Bloom also does a unique thing with its monsters, and the best thing I can compare it to is Painkiller. What I mean by this is that Painkiller (the original one, not the terrible “expansions”) introduced at least 2 new unique monsters in each new level. Bloom does this as well! Every level seemed to give me a new monster or demon to deal with, and they weren’t just simple color changes either! You will instantly recognize some designs from other games such as Doom. Everything from a cultist with a pistol or shotgun, to a floating demon that shoots fireballs, to some big guy that shoots fireballs, to gigantic demons that throw exploding fireballs. I think someone enjoys fireballs, huh? If that wasn’t enough for yah, each level also has a boss you have to deal with or something to that effect as in the second level it’s an optional boss that guards a new weapon. On the harder difficulties, there is a TON of health and you will need a lot of ammo for these fights! I ended up running out of ammo during the Lich King fight and had to resort to punching when he was almost done, and yeah it did cause me to die a few times. Each boss also spawns more enemies, so it is never just a simple 1v1 fight, which is good for keeping you on your toes, plus it is usually your only source of health as every enemy will drop a rose, which is your main health source.
With a minor nit-pick, the AI isn’t the greatest. Bloom does have a pretty simple AI that tends to get stuck, or enemies will stand there with their back facing you. You can even use some ranged weapons to pick them off and they won’t even bat an eye at you. Even if you damage them, they still won’t do anything. You won’t always be able to do that though, but there are a few times you can. Like retro FPS games, there is some infighting with monsters if they damage each other. It’s always fun to see the bigger monsters take out the smaller guys as you focus on him. Some of the gun/bullet enemies also have the ability to shoot you from a great distance, and you will have no idea who was shooting you and from where. Half the time they don’t even make a sound, just all of a sudden you will see some red flash on your screen and you lost some health. That is really my biggest complaint about the enemies as they mostly lack sound, so they just seem to move around and shoot in complete silence, as well as dying quietly. Some enemies do have sounds, but not enough. I’ve told the Dev about this, and he does have plans to add more sounds to the enemies. The enemies were also able to shoot a final time as they were in their death animation and I mentioned it to the Dev. He said that this was like a “Last Breath” attack, but decided that it should only be a thing in the harder difficulties, which I very much agreed as it might make some people feel like the game was being cheap with these last breath attacks.
The story of Bloom has you tracking down a cult that brought back the black flower from the demon world into our world. You are a warrior of a sacred order tasked with fighting your way through hordes of the possessed cultists and demons to destroy the flower before it Blooms. Pretty straight forward. Simple, no-nonsense, and “shoot everything that moves”, as a retro FPS should be! Currently, there isn’t much story implemented into the game as the only story is the bit of text when you first start. The Dev will probably flesh out the story more as he continues to work on it.
In true retro FPS fashion, you gotta have the end screen results of your work! Currently, it does look a little lacking and ugly, but the Dev has said it’s not final. You get your monster kill percentage, your item percentage, secrets percentage, and your time. Pretty much on par for a statistics screen. It would be nice if maybe you received a rating on how your stats were or give the player something to work towards, like being called “Kill Master” or “Completionist” or “Speed Demon”, that sort of thing. The start/loading of each level also gives you a stylized image of the map you will be thrashing through and it does look pretty nice!
Thy Bloom Consumed
Alright, enough stalling. Let’s get to the real meat of the game, the weapons! How are they? Are they any good? Yes, they are! You get a very good selection of weapons. From your Fists, two-handed sword, pistols, submachine guns, pump shotgun, double-barreled shotgun, electric crossbow, rifle, minigun, plasma gun, grenade launcher, bazooka, laser rifle, ray gun, chain lightning gun plus a few secret weapons. On top of that, a few of the weapons like the pistol and submachine gun can be dual wielded. Every weapon is useful to a certain degree, minus the pistols and fists. I found those to be not very helpful unless I absolutely had to use them, like because I ran out of ammo. The shotguns are VERY powerful, the minigun is great for clearing out large rooms or bosses, lob a grenade around a corner and Gib a group of enemies. Every weapon feels like it’s doing its job, which is the most important thing when it comes to FPS. Worst case, the Dev just needs to make a few tweaks and that could easily improve the weapons if needed. The Dev also added a ring that once you acquire it will allow your melee kills to sap health from the enemy, which is an awesome addition and does help make the melee a little more useful.
In terms of pickups are your usual weapons and ammo, health and armor, and keys to open doors and switches to progress. There is also a secret Adrenaline that will increase your max health by 10, and oh boy you will need those! Playing this on FPS God is taxing, as everything hurts a ton! Like I said every enemy that dies will drop a rose that is your health. They only really add a few points of health though, so it’s still better to try and avoid getting hit as much as possible. There are some bigger health pickups, but don’t expect to see those very often. Let’s not forget about the armor that will help with some of that damage, though the color choice for the armor always seems to confuse me and I can never remember which armor gives me how much protection, but that is completely my fault for being dumb. One big thing that seems to be missing though is the lack of “Powerups”, and it is maddening!! There are currently no super pickups like a God Mode or Super Speed or anything. Hopefully, that can be changed as some of the big arena rooms could definitely benefit from a temporary powerup.
The final thing, the music. The music originally was that it would loop through all the music and ambient tracks, which was a terrible choice! The game doesn’t have much for music and ambiance at the moment, so with all the tracks on a cycle you can listen to the entire soundtrack in just the first level, and becomes stale real fast. I mentioned this to the Dev and said that he should go the Painkiller way and have each map have it’s own ambient track, and when combat happens phase into a metal combat music. That way it would allow the Dev to make some great music, and not have it become extremely repetitive. Like I said, at the moment there is not a lot of music choice to be found, so I’ll just be hoping that he expands on it in the future.
As it is still in Early Access, I can’t really give a final verdict as it’s still being worked on and improved. With how much fun I’ve been having with it though if you are someone that is looking for a pretty solid yet rough around the edges FPS, I definitely recommend checking out Bloom! With the Dev willing to take all the feedback he can get to improve on it and fix things, I can’t really complain too much! The one man Dev team has worked hard on this, and it’s no asset flip! If anything, wait and see what the final product looks like. I honestly can’t wait to see what he does in the second episode for the final showdown!