#BLUD review for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC

Platform: PC
Also On: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Switch
Publisher: Humble Games
Developer: Exit 73 Studios
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

If you grew up watching Cartoon Network shows like Powerpuff Girls, The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, or Dexter’s Laboratory, then you’ll immediately recognize both the look and tone that #BLUD is going for. Developed by Humble Games and Exit 73 Studios, this take on merging the visual style of those aforementioned shows with 2D dungeon-crawling in the vein of The Legend of Zelda works extremely well. It has some amazing visuals, great animation, a whole host of charming characters, and some inventive combat mechanics that come together in a final package that I’d certainly recommend to just about anyone. 

#BLUD puts you in the role of Becky Brewster, your somewhat average school-aged girl living in Carpentersville (an obvious nod to legendary director John Carpenter). However, the world around you is certainly not average, as a local tech company that’s one-half Apple, one-half Twitter, has started to unleash a whole host of vampiric bad guys on the town. Thankfully, Becky has some innate abilities to combat vampires, and along with her friends, she sets out to send the head vamp to another dimension and free her town from blood-sucking fiends. 

Being 2D, the action is presented in a top-down, isometric type of view. The town of Carpentersville is sectioned off into different, distinct locations, like your neighborhood, the mall, the hospital, the school and so on. Each of these locations will likely contain a dungeon to explore at various points in the story. Completing those dungeons will lead to upgrades or other loot for Becky, which she can then use to access areas on the map that were previously blocked off. It’s a tried and true formula that doesn’t do a whole lot to reinvent the wheel here, but for the most part it’s executed really well. 

The biggest strengths for #BLUD’s adventure comes from the visuals and the combat. The animation style is really well-realized, and looks great in motion. Every character is expressive and feels unique, and there’s a surprising diversity in enemy design, which in turn leads into what makes the combat so fun. While you’ll start off simply smashing small combo’s together as you swing at a mutated fly or two, you’ll quickly encounter enemies that require a bit more effort to beat. Some will require you to block with an umbrella shield before lowering their defenses, others you can stun with your grappling hook, while more powerful enemies like full-grown vampires will require you to dodge their attacks and look for visual cues to find your moment to strike. This enemy variety helps keep the combat feel fresh throughout, and I never found myself bored or underwhelmed with these encounters while playing.

That said, I do have some nitpicks with #BLUD as a whole. Certain issues with dungeon design or puzzle solving don’t really pop up until you’re near the end game. There’s a sequence where you’re required to push an ice block along a long maze-like section, avoiding heated spots on the floor in order to prevent the block from melting. That wouldn’t be so bad, if you also didn’t have to contend with constantly spawning enemies that have ranged fire attacks, which can then damage and eventually destroy the block, causing you to start the sequence all over. There’s also a stealth section at the mall that can be pretty frustrating, and the final boss sequence has an aggravating mechanic that can cause you to have to start it all over regardless of how well you’ve dodged the onslaught of enemies just prior to the big fight. 

These issues weren’t deal breakers, just specific sequences that were a little more frustrating than anything I had encountered in the game early on. Still, they are areas that you’ll likely overcome with some perseverance, and as a whole, I still think #BLUD is a fantastic game that’s certainly worth playing. I cannot overstate how much I dug the visuals in this game, it’s a refreshing change of pace from other indie dungeon crawlers that often rely on 8-bit or 16-bit aesthetics, and I hope we see a sequel to #BLUD sometime in the future. 

Note: Humble Games provided us with a #BLUD PC code for review purposes.

Score: 8