Blood will be Spilled, by Slovakia-based Doublequote Studio, is a part puzzle-platformer, part turn-based shootout strategy, and entirely a reimagination of Steamworld Heist. But here, instead of steam-based robot pirates raiding ships for loot, you play as a mosquito bounty hunter looking for revenge in a spaghetti western setting inhabited by insects.
When you are not shooting people or visiting the town, you spend most of your time side-scrolling through the platforms that compose each phase, solving puzzles, finding treasures, and avoiding death traps. These segments occur in real time, but the game stops and shifts into a turn-based mode whenever combat is initiated, giving you the time to strategize your options.
The artwork is stylish and well done, be it for the character models, the background imagery, the animations, or the drawings that make up the “cutscenes”. The world has its own slightly gritty cartoony aesthetics, and all graphical elements fit together nicely, with a strong sense of cohesion.
The voice acting in the game is also deserving of praise, especially considering the budget restraints often associated with a game made by an indie studio. The main protagonist, Jack, is voiced by Elias Toufexis—perhaps most known by games as the Adam Jensen from the Deus Ex series. He is not alone in giving an excellent delivery to the lines written for his characters; all the voices in the game fit their roles very well.
The main protagonist, Jack, is voiced by Elias Toufexis—perhaps most known by games as the Adam Jensen from the Deus Ex series.
Yet, while the quality of the voice acting is evident, there is something to be said about the way the few lines available are repeated regularly throughout combat. After just half a dozen encounters, I was already getting bothered by hearing the same threats again and again. While this might not be a big complaint, it is something that perhaps could have been easily avoided by redirecting some of the audio resources during production, and that arguably could still be improved upon even now.
Speaking of combat, it soon became clear to me that positioning is key. Being on the higher ground usually means you can hit an enemy even if they are behind cover—without first having to destroy the structure in front of him—, while you still take full advantage of any defenses you might have. This saves a lot of time you would otherwise spend hitting at boxes and barricades, and the additional damage provided by landing a headshot here can be the difference between winning or losing an encounter.
Although fighting happens in turns and there is a need to spend action points to make moves, each shot is aimed manually by the player. The further the straight line coming from your gun goes, the less visible it is, and its unsteadiness serves as a satisfying representation of what aiming feels like when shooting at a distant target. These elements of gunplay can also be adjusted by the stats of different guns, which are Power, Accuracy, and Weight.
One of the best aspects of combat are the special abilities that can be unlocked, such as the one that allows you to ricochet your bullets. You can land entertaining skillshots through unusual angles, making it feel a lot like playing snooker with guns. Yet, sometimes the indicator does not represent accurately where the projectile is going to end; its trajectory can be suddenly be interrupted by a cover(which will either take damage or be destroyed by it), even when the preview suggested the shot would just bounce off of it.
You can land entertaining skillshots through unusual angles, making it feel a lot like playing snooker with guns.
A similar problem happens with dynamite; it can land on a different spot than the one the game showed you it would. Enemies also seem to be affected by this unusual behavior, and more than once I witnessed them throwing explosives at random locations, or even at their own feet.
While one could argue that the notion of bugs killing themselves by standing close to bright light is a typical behavior to some species, I don’t think the developers indented for it to work that way. It can be a bit frustrating at times, and perhaps it could be fixed with a little more polish to the combat mechanics which are, overall, fun to play with. There are also environmental elements you can use to your advantage, such as shooting at stalagmites or lanterns to make them fall over someone’s head, and this adds another layer to the strategy you may use when confronting your opponents in the game.
Obs: Although the Steam page of the game does not advertise it, you can play it with a controller. It’s the best way to play those kinds of games in my opinion, and it may facilitate both the platform segments and the combat ones.
There is some quality of life improvements that could be made to the game, such as the addition of hotkeys to activate different actions instead of having to hit E and opening the Action Wheel every time you want to do something during combat.
Another interesting possibility would be to use the right button of the mouse to aim during fights, just as you do outside of it. It feels unintuitive to open the Wheel every time you want to hit someone since your brain has been trained to use the mouse everywhere else.
Overall, Blood will be Spilled (I think the two words in the middle could be capitalized for consistency, but I might be wrong) is a nice game, that shines in some spots and could easily be improved in others. Seeing as the developers appear to be considerate of players feedback and are constantly updating the game, there is a reason to be hopeful about its future. I will continue to look forward to its post-development, and if any of its high points are your thing, I would suggest that you do the same.