I love indie games. The idea of largely self, or crowd, funded independent studios trying to make a name for themselves in the gaming industry simply by doing what they’re passionate about appeals to me and often results in a product that feels genuine. Over the years I’ve played some real doozies and also my fair share of mediocre indie titles. Unfortunately, while Blood Alloy: Reborn certainly has some redeeming features, it fits squarely in the latter category.
Blood Alloy: Reborn is the child of Suppressive Fire Games, a small indie team based in Boston. It is essentially a 2D side-scrolling action game with copious amounts of running, jumping and shooting. You play as a cyborg named Nia Rhys, other than that, there is no real backstory. That’s where this game first problem lies: the serious lack of story. I’ve been a gamer for many years and I’ve experienced many great games with great stories and in some cases, the story is the only reason the game was great. So having a game that is overall boring to play and has little to no story is basically sending your game off to die. I came into this game with some excitement as I do love myself some hack and slash, combo-based game play. Blood Alloy certainly delivers on that front and you spend a lot of time sliding up walls and along the ground all while shooting at your robotic enemies. This is very fun for the first couple of hours, and you’ll need to pull these moves off in quick succession to rack up a combo meter which is a central mechanic in Blood Alloy. When you hit 10x on your combo meter you have the option to save one of your comrades that are being held captive by one of the flying-type enemies. I liked this idea, it added some challenge to the game, forcing you to get out of that corner and into the fire fight at low heath just for that chance of that little extra health to give you a tiny bit more time on the battlefield. The combo system in Blood Alloy is just like any other combo system in any game that features it, it’s the basic “kill as much as you can really fast otherwise your combo will run out” deal.
About to end up like Kim Kardashian
The controls are quite confusing to get a hold of, especially when you’re flying up the walls at top speed and you don’t have that much time to react at all. When it comes to attacking you have to click each time you want to shoot (and that is quite a lot when you have many enemies coming your way). You can charge your shots for a stronger, more devastating attacks, but it is hard to charge with so many enemies coming your way at a time. Often you’ll be hit mid-charge which will reset the attack. The game is meant to be fast-paced but the flow is interrupted too often by having to line up shots that are more or less impossible while gliding everywhere. It would be preferable if you could simply hold down the attack button and have a constant attack going while you glide around instead of clicking violently like a mad man. This leads me to the next big issue which is the aiming. I just found myself shooting in all directions blindly hoping to hit something which didn’t feel particularly skilful.
The game has a severe lack of both content and variety which further hampers the enjoyment you might be able to have with it. It only includes a limited arsenal of three secondary and primary weapons that you can use across three similar looking levels. Blood Alloy is very focused on scoring and levelling up, which gives you access to more equipment to work but also requires you to play the same level over and over again. Levelling up is a bit of a grind and the only way to unlock the next level is to get to certain level landmarks. This would not normally be a problem for me, but when the level is very dull and boring, seeing it over and over again can just get old in a short amount of time. The developers have opted for a pixelated art style which in general is done very well, but there’s not much variety to the visual assets, and you will be staring at the same robot mutts, live electric wires and weird small flying robot flies for much of your time. The lack of variety in the visual design and lack of enemy types means the monotony will set in quickly. Progression is also extremely slow and the bland nature of the unlocks means you’re unlikely to feel any sense of reward. There are challenges to complete for XP (like not shooting for a minute), but they don’t net enough XP to make them feel worthwhile and you’ll probably end up ignoring them in the long run.
There is also no online element to the game at all, you can rack up a seriously good score and there is no one to share it with or even challenge. Some kind of leaderboard where you can challenge your friends to beat your score might have given it some kind of replayablity, but sadly you’ll just have to impress yourself with your high scores.
Blood Alloy: Reborn is bland, repetitive and extremely boring and probably won’t hold anyone’s attention for long. The visuals and soundtrack are strong but it’s not enough to save it from mediocrity. Given the serious lack of content, enemy variety and features on offer it seems its current price is more than a little steep. If you’re interested in it, wait until it goes on sale (if it ever does). Updates in the form of faster progression, new weapons and different levels would go a long way to increasing its general appeal and replayability, but failing that this one probably isn’t worth your time.
Reviewed on PC