A turn-based, tactical western shooter. Well, that sounds fine and dandy. Wait, everyone in the game are insects? Well, now you have my attention. Blood Will Be Spilled definitely catches the eye with its impressive and enjoyable artistic style, but does it hold water when it comes down to its gameplay?
Blood Will Be Spilled takes place in the old west. We follow the protagonist Jack, a stoic and bug of few words’ mosquito bounty hunter, as he ventures throughout the old West, taking on hordes of miscreant and rogue bugs of all shapes and sizes — some with their own unique abilities to give them advantages during gunfights. As you progress, the types of bugs you will face become more threatening, and sometimes simply try to overwhelm you with numbers.
This is a turn-based shooter, so there’s no spamming keys and running around like a headless chicken. Once you come across enemies, it’s time to take a quick step back and think about what you’re going to do as you will only have two moves to make per turn. So whether you need to reload, move into cover, or start running wildly, thinking ahead is really going to make all the difference. Running headfirst into a fight is a good way to die quickly, as on many occasions you’ll find yourself outnumbered and outgunned. Wasps take on a whole new way of being annoying. Boss Fights are an endeavour on their own, with each having their own mechanics and challenges, so be prepared and try to counter them!
However, even though it is a tactical turn-based shooter, it’s a little bit more than that too. In between shootouts you will find yourself braving the Old West in a way more like a platformer. It comes complete with various puzzles and obstacles to overcome, requiring you to stop rushing and think things through for a moment – quite the opposite of legging it as fast as you can from a giant spider. Blood Will Be Spilled offers more than just shooting up varmints. Make sure you explore extensively too when and where possible, and hopefully you’ll start to find the pieces to make the legendary gun of El Dorado…
Combat in Blood Will Be Spilled is reminiscent of the combat style in Steamworld Heist. Aiming requires some good timing with your mouse/controller, as you won’t have pinpoint precision at any point, although you can eventually improve your aiming as you go along. Accuracy is key due to the copious amounts of cover the enemy has access to for their advantage. But you’re not completely at a loss. You’ve a variety of abilities and items in your arsenal, and with skill trees available to expand further. Not to mention that you can also fight dirty and use your bloodsucker ability to your advantage in close combat. Some of the abilities that Jack can learn help to keep combat from getting boring: Bouncing bullets and dynamite are deadly and fun to watch. Although be warned, throw your dynamite carefully! It will unquestionably bounce further than you expect it to — clearly throwing explosives is an artform that needs to be perfected.
And what kind of tactical shooter would it be without different weapons? Okay, it’s not littered with tons of diverse and exciting guns and there’s only various pistols available to you, and some do feel a little bit similar, but there’s enough to keep you satisfied. Whether you’re after something with more stopping power, or something sleeker and more accurate, you’ll have to save those pennies from bounties to buy some upgrades.
Combat is all well and good, but it’s not what really makes Blood Will Be Spilled stand out. For me, the creative art style used is what draws me in and makes me want to continue further to see more of the imaginative designs of the various characters throughout the game. Trigger happy ants and flies, tenacious, rifle-wielding wasps, explosive-riddled beetles and rabid ticks await you. The attention to detail is very much appreciated and helps to add a great atmosphere to the game. (Fans of Hollow Knight be on the lookout too, as there may be a particular little bug hanging around in the saloon…)
As well as the art style, the voice acting also deserves two thumbs up, as it’s so very well-orchestrated and delivered. With Jack reminding us of that oh-so familiar sound of Clint Eastwood in… everything he’s ever done, and everyone else does a great job of bringing in their own special brand of different tropes we’ve heard in westerns films before. Much like with the artistic style, the voice acting pairs so well with the setting and helps to create what is a visually intriguing and enjoyable, memorable experience.
Whilst the combat can sometimes feel a little buggy (pun not intended… sort of.) it can be looked over when looking at the grand scheme, and how a lot of creative time, energy and love has been poured into Blood Will Be Spilled. I feel that if more weapons were added, as well as perhaps a challenge mode of sorts, it could become quite a gem in the rough. That having been said, it’s absolutely worth a try if you’re a fan of westerns, turn-based shooters, or bugs.
Blood Will Be Spilled is available now on PC and Mac.