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#BLUD Key Art
Image via Exit 73 Studios

#BLUD Review | Out for Blud!

Becky the Vampire Slayer

#BLUD was announced by Exit 73 Studios over 7 years ago, and it’s been in development for a long time. Having finally played the game, it’s obvious why it took so long to make. #BLUD is essentially a 2000s Cartoon Network show in a video game format that merges both genres in a way I haven’t seen before. The art and character work share a lot of similarities to cartoons like The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Dexter’s Laboratory, and The Powerpuff Girls. That said, does it come together as a good video game?

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Playable Cartoon Adventure

#BLUD is basically a playable cartoon show, which makes a lot of sense considering it’s developed by an animation studio. Every part of its presentation feels expressive, smoothly animated, and full of character. It’s easily the best thing about the game, and it’s a joy to meet new characters and see their dialogue animations play out. Speaking of characters, boy, are there a lot. The entire town is full of different people engaged in some activity that you can interact with. 

You’re connected to them through a social media platform where you can read updates, keep track of missions, and post a lot of selfies.

I’m impressed by the sheer variety there is in the game’s photo mode tool. You can whip out your phone near anything, and there will be a pre-rendered background to accompany your shot. There are some dedicated spots, but the camera works everywhere, even when you’re next to enemies.

In your quest to take down the evil forces currently haunting your town, you’ll run into rats, bats, and all sorts of vampiric creatures that plague the streets and halls of your school. All of these have multiple animations, exaggerated attacks, and reactions that simply aren’t possible in 3D. There is clear effort put into making them stand out and memorable. Boss are on another level of animation entirely, with multiple phases, forms, and massive attacks that cover the entire screen. 

The presentation of #BLUD is simply spellbinding at times, and if you’ve been craving some of that early Cartoon Network magic, it’s hard to go wrong here.

What about the combat though?

Combat in #BLUD is a bit basic, which isn’t a bad thing, but it can feel inconsistent at times. The exaggerated animations can often have an adverse effect when it comes to the flow of attacks, leading you to miscalculate the expected position of incoming and outgoing hits. This isn’t always the case, but even smaller enemies can chew through your entire health bar if you aren’t perfect in your execution.

At times, the game overwhelms you with enemies, and it’s hard to understand why. You don’t get any XP from killing enemies, and they don’t drop any items either, yet they’ll respawn if you die. Killing them again and again, and taking a few punches in can often feel needlessly frustrating and repetitive, especially when they lead up to a more difficult encounter.

Similarly, when going against bosses, it’s very random when you can actually hit them. This means that you’re more or less expected to die a few times to test out which part you can hit, during their different phases. It’s annoying because these fights can be a lot of fun mechanically, but you aren’t expected to make decisions based on obvious visual tells.

As you explore, and progress through the campaign, you’ll unlock more tools for your trusty hockey stick, and combat does come together in terms of complexity, but it lacks polish even if it’s visually exciting.

Becky Brewster, and Carpentersville

Becky, the star of the show is a vampire hunter, and a hunter must hunt. Outside of the presentation, I think Becky and her friends make Carpentersville a delight to explore. Even though most tasks are essentially fetch quests, there’s enough background for each to feel worth pursuing. 

As mentioned, the town is always chock-full of characters to interact with, making exploration feel rewarding, even for the little bit of dialogue and character animations. Moving around can be a bit tedious though, as Becky can’t run, and her default speed is very slow. I resorted to just mashing the dodge roll button, which made things a lot easier until fast-travel was unlocked.

Dungeon-crawling itself is pretty fun, though, and there’s enough challenge to keep things exciting. There are some basic puzzles here, and there, but most of the fun comes from encountering new enemy types and trying to figure out their patterns and weaknesses. Figuring out where to go next isn’t that complicated, and you’ll always find a map for a new place early on to get a sense of direction if you do get lost. I just wish there was a shortcut to bring up the map, and not go through the pause screen menus.

#BLUD is a gorgeous hand-drawn dungeon-crawler with some excellent animation work, fun characters, and sharp humor. The Vampire-infested streets of Carpentersville are a joy to explore and cleanse, even if the combat isn’t always consistent. #BLUD blurs the line between a cartoon show and a video game thanks to its incredible presentation, even if the game side of things isn’t always as polished.
  • Jaw-dropping art style and animation work
  • Becky is an awesome character
  • Fun side characters, and writing
  • Inconsistent combat that lacks polish
  • Moving around can feel tedious in the early hours
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review. Reviewed on PC

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Image of Ali Hashmi
Ali Hashmi
Ali has been writing about video games for the past six years and is always on the lookout for the next indie game to obsess over and recommend to everyone in sight. When he isn't spending an unhealthy amount of time in Slay the Spire, he's probably trying out yet another retro-shooter or playing Dark Souls for the 50th time.