It’s nearly Christmas so, in keeping with tradition, I’ve decided to play a large mod for a Build Engine game called “Blood“. I don’t know why, but the Build Engine always makes me think of Christmas 🙂
At the time of writing, I’m slightly over two-thirds of the way through this mod (I’m on E3M1, if anyone is curious ). So, this “mini review” article will only reflect my opinions so far.
Before I go any further, I should probably point out that since the source code to “Blood” was never released (bad Monolith!), “Death Wish” is an absolute pain to get running. It’s totally worth it, but expect to put in a lot of effort just to get it to run.
The best way to get “Death Wish” to run was something I eventually found in comment #10 on this page of the Steam forums (ironic for a GOG fan like myself), where someone suggested re-naming your normal “BLOOD” configuration file to something other than “BLOOD” and then naming the equivalent Death Wish file “BLOOD” instead. Even then, this took a bit of trial and error to get right.
Plus, it goes without saying (considering that the game is called “Blood”), but this review may contain some GRUESOME IMAGES.
Anyway, let’s take a look at “Death Wish”:
“Death Wish” is a full-game sized mod for “Blood” which was released in 2011. It contains about thirty new levels, in addition to some new sound effects, voice acting and cutscenes.
Yes, this mod actually includes cutscenes (both at the beginning and end of each episode, along with some small animated in-game cutscenes too). Even though the video-based cutscenes only have limited animation, they feature a really cool art style and voice-overs.
The story of “Death Wish” is fairly simple. Sometime between the events of both “Blood” games, Tchernobog makes another attempt to rise from the grave and seek dominion over Earth. Once again, it is up to Caleb to stop him…. with extreme force!
Although the general tone of this game is thankfully a lot closer to the original “Blood”, there’s at least one “Blood II: The Chosen” reference in here:
The game’s story is also told through “tomes” that you can pick up, which will display some story text at the top of the screen. In addition to this, the ghost of Tchernobog will appear sometimes to taunt you (in a suitably creepy/dramatic voice), attack you with fireballs and/or give you an occasional jump scare.
One of the best ways to describe the style of this mod is that it is what “Blood” would look like if it was made today.
As well as having all of the qualities of an old-school FPS game, some of the movie/game references that made the original game such a classic have been updated slightly:
As well as lots of cool movie and game references, the level design is absolutely superb! Not only is there a good variety of locations on offer here, but all of the levels are the kind of challenging, imaginative and non-linear 1990s-style levels that FPS games regularly included when the genre was at it’s peak.
This mod was released in 2011 and the level design is probably ten times better than most “AAA” FPS games that were released in that year!
In fact, the creator of this mod does all sorts of cool things with the limited technology of the Build Engine. As well as lots of cool-looking locations (using nothing more than the basic “Blood” textures!), the mod also includes things like short in-game cutscenes, a ghost ship, an invisible path (that is illuminated by a moving light) and all sorts of other cool stuff:
In fact, the only faults I found with the level design was the fact that I couldn’t find one of the keys in the very first level (and reluctantly had to resort to using the “give keys” cheat) and the fact that several of the game’s buttons and switches were nearly impossible to press unless I hammered both the “crouch” and “use” keys at the same time.
But, I’m not exaggerating when I say that “Death Wish” is challenging. Even on medium difficulty, this game is significantly more challenging than all of the “official” Build Engine games were (eg: “Duke Nukem 3D”, “Shadow Warrior”, “Blood” etc..).
If you’re a fan of classic 1990s FPS games, then you will probably find the ridiculous difficulty both hilarious and enjoyable. You’ll also feel like an absolute badass when you beat each level too 🙂
However, if you’ve grown up on easy, simplified modern FPS games, then expect to start shouting loudly about how the game is “unfair”, before throwing your keyboard across the room. “Death Wish” is thankfully about as far from “Call Of Duty” as you can get!
This is a game that demands persistence, that requires you to use your brain and which will punish you mercilessly for any mistakes. God, I miss the days when FPS games were like this!
But, unlike the original “Blood”, the difficulty here is cranked up even further by the fact that health and ammo can sometimes be very scarce. Likewise, expect to run into more than a few modern-style hordes of zombies. Yes, literal hordes:
“Death Wish” also includes it’s fair share of puzzles, switches and hidden keys too. Although most of these can be found with careful searching (except for one key in E1M1), the game also includes a walkthrough if you get stuck.
Normally, I’d consider looking at the walkthrough to be cheating (it’s a FPS game, not a point-and-click adventure!) but, given how sneakily some things are hidden (eg: certain monsters you’d normally avoid have to be killed before doors open etc..), expect to look at it at least a few times.
However, be wary of the walkthrough! It claims that the third level of episode one is the easiest level of the episode. It isn’t….
In terms of length, this is a full game. This is a full 1990s-length game (back when FPS games actually included more than just a few measly hours of gameplay). Although I am only two-thirds of the way through the game, this is the result of playing this game a lot for several days.
All in all, “Death Wish” is easily as good as (if not better than) the original “Blood” was. Not only does it include (mostly) excellently-designed levels and cool movie references, but it also includes the kind of amazingly fun and enjoyably challenging/ hilariously unfair gameplay that you only see in 1990s FPS games. This is a mod both by and for classic FPS gamers. And it is awesome!
If I had to give what I’d played so far a rating out of five, it would just about get a five.