A fresh supply of quality first-person shooting
Type: Single-Player, Multiplayer
Genre: FPS, Horror, Action
Developer: Nightdive Studios
Publisher: Nightdive Studios
Release Date: 9 May, 2019
Blood: Fresh Supply is quite simply one of the most fun games I’ve played in the past few months. Not only does that show the quality of 90’s shooters but also how well Blood still delivers in modern gaming (and more specifically, 22 years later).
Rebuilt by Nightdive on a totally different engine (I know it looks like the Build Engine but it actually isn’t), Blood: Fresh Supply simply nails everything that made the original a classic, with a few bugs thrown in for good measure (deserving of their own section to talk about later in the review) that really should not stop you from buying this. It’s probably my first “must-buy” recommendation of the year for pretty much anyone (No point telling you to buy it if you hate FPS games though, let’s be honest).
As if you should care…
Nevertheless, it’s a classic 90’s plot: you are given a basic premise and then you kill everything until you reach the final boss, the super evil dude. In Blood terms you’re Caleb, one of the four leaders of the Cabal’s cult circle (who worship Tchernobog, a God). Caleb and his 3 peers are killed by Tchernobog and after years in a grave, Caleb rises from it to seek answers and kill the God he once worshiped.
The premise is cool but… you’re not here for that. You get a cutscene (that does look 22 years old) showing what I told you just now and you’ll get one at the end of an episode to keep the story flowing; the rest of the game is pure, unadulterated gameplay with no player interruption.
This is the core of Blood for several reasons. Not only do weapons feel quite amazing, especially given the game’s age, but they also look and play in a unique way – the pistol is a flare gun that can shoot eight flares as the alt-fire, the Tommy Gun has a random horizontal spray when alt-fired, the rocket launcher is a napalm launcher that inflicts extra burn damage, grenades are dynamite instead which is a billion times more badass, let’s admit. The only exception to this memorably unique arsenal is the sawed-off shotgun which is pretty box-standard (however, it feels phenomenal). Also, the melee weapon is, fittingly enough, a pitchfork!
The level design is an obvious topic to discuss since this is an old-school FPS and Blood not only ticks all the boxes with flying colours but also manages to add an incredible amount of variety to each Episode, from haunted houses/hotels, to glaciers with ships, factories, a maze, and so on (there’s even a Coliseum of sorts later in the game); the levels are varied, packed with secrets (some hard, some quite easy to find) and enemies looking to kill you. Speaking of enemies, they are also quite varied and unique: regular cultists (which can wield shotguns or Tommy Guns and throw the occasional dynamite bundle at you) and zombies are the starting victims of your vengeful carnage-filled run; zombies are a bit special as they come back to life unless dismembered or killed multiple times, but that’s nothing a stick of dynamite can’t take care of in the first try.
Eventually, enemy progression will include gargoyles (which are extremely annoying), fat knife-throwing butchers (tip: 2 flare shots will handle them just fine) and many more in the late game (not ignoring bosses, of course). The level design is great in the combat itself as it allows for really fun combat scenarios and not just a linear combat encounter: the levels are usually open enough so you can get past some combat scenarios or take advantage of the high ground or simply catch them from behind and finish most of the enemies with a dynamite throw (you can tell I really like the dynamite).
It’s also worth mentioning a customizable difficulty is present, allowing you to change a lot of damage and enemy number configurations to get the “right experience” just for you.
This blend of interesting, unique weapons with the multiple themes each level adopts makes for an incredibly rewarding and fun combat and exploration experience in the varied environments that rarely make you feel bored as you progress through the game.
And if you want to have a blast from the past with your friends, you can! Fresh Supply supports a full co-op mode for the campaign (as it does a couple PvP modes) and split-screen!
Blood: Fresh Supply looks very much like the original, with the classic pixelated (yet surprisingly detailed and with a lot of level interaction with objects) look and feel of the Build Engine (despite being remade in Nightdive’s Kex Engine). The sprites look great, physics are present like kicking an enemy head you separated from its body is always enjoyable – especially since it even leaves a trail of blood as it ragdolls around the level at Mach 10 speed…
Enemies are well designed, all looking different and distinguishable from one another; the levels are clear and have a very nice theme to even their colour pallettes, helping you never mix enemies with backgrounds, which is something appreciated in most modern shooter designs who abuse brown and grey a bit too much (thankfully that trend has been changing these past couple years).
Fresh Supply also is quite detailed in its options: you can change how obstructive the HUD is (which is quite a bit for today’s standards), change the FOV (I love you, Nightdive), remove/add a couple extra graphics options or simply use V-Sync or not (and manually cap the framerate instead, which is the way to go for me). They even added 3 different renderers – Vulkan (rejoice, Linux users!), OpenGL and DirectX.
Overall, Nightdive did a great job with this remaster, changing the core game to a different engine, keeping everything that made it great and adding a couple of Quality of Life customization options that really should be in all modern takes of old games (seriously, praise the damn FOV slider and the 3D view mode which can be changed/toggled off, of course if you want to go full old school).
Overall, an excellent job on an already excellent game!
Fresh Supply didn’t do much to its audio but it did add a MIDI support option (which was bugged, I’ll address that in the end a bit better) on top of CD support.
Guns sound incredibly powerful with the sawed-off looking like it will shatter the planet in half with the alt-fire and the Tommy Gun simply shoots so fast that it could chop a drop of water in 8 bits, and I love it. The dynamite also sounds very impactful (as do all explosions, honestly) as well as the flare gun, for example.
Caleb’s one-liners are great and pretty iconic, as is his evil laugh when throwing dynamite and just exploding 3 or so enemies into bits and gravy. It’s also a great way to take some of the seriousness from the game, reminding you to have as much fun as Caleb probably is (despite this being his tale of revenge).
The soundtrack is the same as the original, thank goodness, and it is as phenomenal as it was 22 years ago – personally, the carnival level’s music is the best and most iconic (though there are others I also thoroughly enjoyed).
DISCLAIMER/STATE OF THE GAME
I mentioned I’d approach the game’s bugs and now’s the time. I am glad to report that the game has now pretty much completely fixed its problems and added missing features from the original (this is my experience in terms of bugs and performance, of course).
On release, a lot of details were missing and mechanics were broken: jump height was wrongly calculated and allowed you to cheat through some levels/secrets (E2M2 being the most noticeable and reported), the MIDI Audio was bugged and the game would 100% crash when starting to play a level, the stone gargoyles couldn’t be pushed nor would they bleed when shot, switching renderers was a surefire way to get the game to crash, cultists wouldn’t throw dynamite at all but would still get themselves stuck in the throwing animation (and thus made the game unexpectedly easier than it should be) and a lot more missing details that were mostly – if not totally – fixed.
The game on release got the Blood experience pretty much right, but it was too unstable and missing a few details that hardcore Blood fans were soon to get their pitchforks up for (see what I did there?). That version of the game was certainly a Save for Later as it was clearly not ready for release. However, this review is taking into account the more recent 1.9.6 version of the game (coming out 1 month after release) and everything’s pretty much fixed and runs perfectly for me without any crashes (beware some users are still complaining about crashes so take it with a grain of salt).
And here we are at the finish line. Taking into account what I said just above about the current state of the game, I have zero issues recommending this at the odd full price of 8,19€. It’s my favorite game of the year so far (I swear remasters are going to win the year for me again) and I can safely recommend this for anyone into shooters (beware it’s an unbelievably hard game) or horror themed action games.
A phenomenal game through and through, easy Autosave rating! It’s also my first one, so that should tell you something about this game.