I’ve got a big soft spot for dungeon crawlers, especially when I can play them online with a few of my friends, so Blightbound appealed to me from the get-go. With it’s slick visuals, neat battling, and heavy focus on co-operative play, it seemed to have everything that I wanted from the genre. The fact that it was coming from Devolver Digital was a plus too, with the publisher having a good eye for quality titles that do something a bit different.
Whilst it was seemingly a recipe for success, unfortunately, I just didn’t have much fun playing Blightbound. It certainly had its moments where the co-operative gameplay would shine, but they were outweighed by the frustration of the awkward gameplay mechanics and some harsh difficulty spikes.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
Blightbound takes place in a fantasy setting that has been submerged into a fog known as the Blight, which corrupts the inhabitants of the world and turns them into monstrous creatures. In order to survive, humanity has headed to the higher peaks of the world that the Blight hasn’t reached, with the view of the fog-covered world a forlorn sight below them. All hope isn’t lost though, with trios of heroes venturing back into the world to fight off the deadly creatures that now inhabit it, all with the hope of getting rid of the Blight once and for all.
The gameplay loop revolves around being a part of one of those trios, with each party consisting of a Warrior, a Mage, and an Assassin. Each has different strengths, with the Warrior being a hands-on fighter with good health, the Mage being the healer and magic user, and the Assassin the quick-paced DPS that focuses on speed and deadly back attacks. They all have their own skills that can be utilised to deal more damage, whilst they also have an ultimate ability that charges up and can really get them out of tricky situations or just dish out a lot of hurt to foes. It’s the typical setup for a class-based game like this really, so if you’re familiar with the genre, you’ll understand how it all works.
“The gameplay loop revolves around being a part of one of those trios, with each party consisting of a Warrior, a Mage, and an Assassin.”
Whilst it’s cool to switch between classes and see what they offer, the game’s requirement to have one of each in your party can work against it. I was lucky enough to spend the majority of my time playing with two friends, so was typically able to fill a party fuss-free. The times when I was alone, though? It was hard work getting a full team together with online players regularly dropping out, whilst the AI of the bots is awful.
This wouldn’t be such a problem if the game didn’t rely so heavily on teamwork, but trust me, playing Blightbound without proper co-operation and a plan will end VERY badly. Enemies can be relentless in battle so you’ve got to pick your time to strike, whilst the sheer number of enemies that you come up against can quickly overcome you. Worst still, the game has some ridiculous difficulty spikes with certain enemies, making it close to impossible to survive if one or two of your team ends up getting downed. There was one point where an ally was down, but the enemy was too close to them for me to revive them without getting killed myself, whilst another enemy was attacking from a distance… it felt like an impossible situation to survive that came from out of nowhere. This is frustrating when playing with friends, but with dumb AI bots, it’s close to unbearable. Don’t get me wrong, the AI bots are good at dealing damage, but when it comes to evading traps, helping with puzzles, or simply surviving, they’re atrocious.
“The game has some ridiculous difficulty spikes with certain enemies, making it close to impossible to survive if one or two of your team ends up getting downed.”
It’s a shame, because there’s a lot of potential in Blightbound’s general design. The dungeons you explore look great and bring with them a wonderful hand-crafted vibe, whilst there’s a decent selection of enemies and traps to face off against. The general combat mechanics are sound too, with it proving satisfying to battle enemies and try to evade their attacks (even if the dodge cooldown is a little longer than I’d like). It feels more like an old school beat ‘em up with its combat too, which is refreshing for the genre. It’s even possible to unlock new characters in each class by finding them in dungeons; they don’t change up much from a gameplay perspective, but it’s nice to have extra options.
Unfortunately, the whole experience just lacks the sort of depth to really invest players in the world. The dungeons can get repetitive over time, there’s an emphasis placed on grinding, whilst the story quests associated with characters just lacked any real substance. Add to that the fact that the in-game menus are a chore to explore and organising loot and gear feels cumbersome, and it quickly becomes clear that Blightbound is lacking in a lot of elements of its design. With a handful of bugs encountered when playing as well as having the game crash on a few occasions, it really is a hard game to recommend. (Note: A patch has since been released that addresses some of these issues, though we weren’t able to test it fully for this review. You can check the patch notes here.)
Blightbound is a game that seemed to offer everything that I wanted with its stylish multiplayer dungeon-crawling adventure, but I just didn’t have much fun playing it. It’s a shame too, because it’s clear that a lot of love and effort has gone into making the game; it just didn’t come through in the final product.
It’s never nice to slate a game and there’s no doubting that Blightbound has its strengths (there were occasions where everything flowed and I had a really good time), but it really is hard to recommend right now. With some fixes, refinements, and game balancing here and there, there’s the potential for it to be a fun little game – especially since the core mechanics of battling and exploration are pretty neat. As it stands though, there are much better co-op titles and much better dungeon-crawlers out there to play, with Blightbound proving a little too flawed to fully enjoy.
Developer: Ronimo Games
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC