Switch version tested
Review code provided
It’s always interesting to look back at how times have changed. From blocky visuals and questionable voice acting to ultra-realistic graphics and top-quality performances that put Hollywood to shame (though granted that’s not as hard as it once was) gaming has come a long way. Yet we gamers still love a good old trip down memory lane with a big dose of nostalgia, something the indie gaming scene has been making a living off for a while now. Enter Blood Breed, a throwback survival horror with a brutal setting and full frontal exposure that once upon a time would never see the light of day on a Nintendo platform, but does this tally whacker of a gorefest have what it takes to find a home in your collection? let’s take a look.
Survival horror takes many cues from the B-Horror Movie genre and as such, Blood Breed provides a simple premise. Stepping into the shoes of an everyday female the game opens with you driving down a country road late at night when suddenly, a deer darts out in front of your car, after hitting the unfortunate animal that clearly should have looked both ways, your car isn’t in the best of shape. Heading down the road on foot with a trusty flashlight to hand you happen across a large factory-type building and head inside to seek help.
Spoiler alert, you don’t find any help. Instead, you find a building that manages to resemble a slaughterhouse and an Ikea stock room all at once, full of various office supplies, naked dead folk, bizarre saw traps that look like something the child of jigsaw and every bond villain would create and some crazy dudes with hatchets, it soon becomes apparent that our protagonist should have joined the RAC.
As you venture through the complex with little in the way of dialogue and cutscenes you will need to survive a series of rooms filled with assaults, traps and piss poor controls if you can hope to escape in one piece. For the most part Blood Breed is a game filled with trial and error scenarios that begin life with exploring small rooms to find a key to open a door and proceed. Saw blades will be placed in certain area’s meaning you will have to avoid them as they whizz up and down a corridor or spin like a rota blade ready to remove your head from your shoulders.
It isn’t until later in the game that you get your hands on a weapon so when the scary men with machetes are around you pretty much have to avoid them by using stealth. If they spot you an overly heavy metal riff kicks in and you can run for your life. A stamina meter is present but I always found that with the areas being fairly small it was difficult to outrun the villains so it was just quicker to get killed, which happens in one hit, then respawn the area. This pretty much gives the groundhog day vibe or remembering where you might have seen the key and attempting to navigate the layout of each area by memory and avoid enemy contact until you get it right.
To break things up there are also some corridor chases that nearly caused me to throw my switch through the window. You will be tasked with being chased in what slightly resembles the endless runner genre, but running towards the camera as a knife-wielding maniac chases you while managing your stamina meter and avoiding traps that you have a split second to react to is as annoying and tedious as it sounds. Once again these area’s don’t rely on any form of skill as such just the ability to remember where each trap is and rinse and repeat the sections until you get it right. Safe to say what little fun I found in Blood Breed in the early going was soon sucked dry by these sections.
Being a throwback to Survival Horrors of old, Blood Breed has a very PS1 look to its graphics though granted a bit overly exaggerated retro compared to the relatively detailed titles of the time such as Resident Evil and Alone in the Dark. To add to the old school vibes there is an option to have a VHS style filter which adds little to the experience but it was a nice option to have. The game also features a fair chunk of nudity though there is little to shock or offend once again due to the graphical style, however for those not in the mood to look at a penis-shaped like John Cena’s forearm these can also be filtered out to have sim’s style censoring.
Overall performance was good, with the sudden death and retry flow of the title the load times were blissfully short. The controls themselves, as mentioned earlier, do leave something to be desired. Not necessarily in their set up, analogue sticks and face buttons are intuitive enough for anyone who has played a third-person game in the past, but the latency and slushy movement of the character once again just caused too many issues. In a game about navigating moving death traps or trying to traverse a 2×4 to avoid falling to a grim death, a character that moves like a pisshead on a carousel once again ruins the enjoyment at what could have been a pretty good concept.
Being a long term fan of survival horror I had high hopes for Blood Breed. There are some that would say the genre had it’s best days in the PS1 and PS2 era, I would tend to agree. Sadly Blood Breed tried to be too overly retro and misses the key ingredients of having a balanced challenge. It’s not often I would say the highlight of a title is how short it is but after a series of swear words and some stop and start sessions it didn’t take much more than ninety minutes to see this through, some people may finish it quicker depending on how they get on with the chase sequences. If you see it on offer it might be worth a punt if you really want a dose of retro nostalgia but there are much better options available for serious horror fans.
TBG Score: 4/10
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 21/02/2020
No. of Players: 1
Category: Survival Horror, Action
Publisher: Cool Small Games
Download link: eShop