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Preview: Blightbound

27 Jul 2020

Today on the docket we have for you a sneak peek at an interesting dungeon-crawler-type game by the name of Blightbound, published by Devolver Digital and developed by Ronimo Games. This tough-as-nails game is multiplayer-only (three players, local or online), so I had to enlist some help from two fellow members of the Gamer Escape team, since the game doesn’t even allow you to go it alone.

Blightbound takes place in a fantasy world that was corrupted with “Blight” many years ago after a team of heroes defeated a being known as the Shadow Titan, causing it to unleash this corrupting force upon its death. This led to the corruption of all living things which it affected. Fast forward to today and a new group of heroes has emerged, seeking to explore the now Blight-riddled world from their refuge on a mountain, hoping to unravel its secrets.

While the game describes itself as a dungeon crawler, as is often the case these days, I felt some inspiration coming from a mix of genres. The game’s perspective, for instance, evokes a bit of a classic early 90’s arcade beat-em-up style (Think of Final Fight, X-Men or The Simpsons arcade games), mostly scrolling left and right with not nearly as much up-and-down motion needed.

The game’s hero and ability system strongly evokes memories of various class-based games, Overwatch chief among them. I even felt a bit of a Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles vibe in here with the game’s overall structure and parts of the story. The Blight reminded me of the Miasma in that game as well, though it doesn’t directly deal you damage during the gameplay.

The world is very atmospheric, with a generally creepy-yet-beautiful look to it. The characters and enemies all have a wonderful hand-drawn look to them, while the 3D gameplay environment supports that surprisingly well. The music is similarly atmospheric in design, and it all comes together very well to create an immersive experience. You can tell a lot of care and attention went into the presentation, which I found impressive for a studio that was unknown to me at the time of playing.

Speaking of gameplay, I genuinely had a lot of fun chatting together with other members of the GE team, calling out for heals, rescuing new heroes trapped in the dungeons, communicating to complete puzzles, and taking down bosses… or, at least, trying to.

Every hero has a basic attack and alternate attack or ability, a couple other active abilities, a passive, and an ultimate. This is where I drew the connection to Overwatch, strange as it may sound. Thus each of the various heroes in the game has a specific function and play style and that, put together with the beat-’em-up style of the game, made the combat feel very satisfying.

The ultimate abilities are quite powerful and are built up over time and by carrying out your hero’s main function, doing damage, healing/buffing, or blocking/taking damage. While I generally oppose forced multiplayer, especially when it isn’t clearly made necessary by the mechanics, if you tried to do this alone you would absolutely have to be a god (Though I think it should still be an option).

The controls are simple and fluid, but the difficulty of the dungeons is absolutely brutal and you and your friends will definitely need to bring their best. There were three different dungeons available to us initially and, well, we couldn’t beat any of them in multiple attempts.

This led to the biggest fun-barrier for me though: In order for your heroes to level up, dungeons have to be completed. This means if you can’t clear a dungeon, you can’t progress at all. Further, both being knocked down and wiping as a party cause the hero you played to be affected by the Blight, and if it happens too much, that particular hero will become unavailable for a while.

Speaking of heroes, I hope you don’t have a favorite, as there doesn’t appear to be any way to choose a specific hero. After you form a party of friends, you are randomly assigned a hero based on those available to you. If there’s a way to select a particular one, I couldn’t find it.

The game also notes a difficulty level for each dungeon, but it actually changes after each dungeon you enter. A particular dungeon might be “normal” one time and then “hard” the next (Though it hardly seems to matter as we just couldn’t beat a dungeon regardless of the setting). Don’t get me wrong, we were having a lot of fun with the gameplay, but boy, is this game punishing. It could only be more so if there was permadeath (Don’t get any ideas, Ronimo Games!)

So the long story short here, if you’re a co-op fanatic and think games are just too easy these days, Blightbound might just be right up your alley. The game enters early access on July 29, 2020, so if the above statement describes you, wishlist it, find some friends, and give it a look! But if you’re more of a solo player, or looking for a more casual experience, it will be more difficult to recommend.

Review copies provided by Devolver Digital. Screenshots taken by writer and other Gamer Escape staff. Featured image courtesy of Devolver Digital.