It ain’t easy being the new kid in high school, especially when you also just so happen to be a vampire slayer, but that’s the exact situation Becky Brewster finds herself in in #BLUD – the new Saturday Morning Cartoon-inspired adventure from the teams at Exit 73 Studios and Humble Games.

Check out some screenshots down below:

#BLUD puts players in the role of Becky Brewster, the new kid at Carpentersville High who brings with her a secret: she’s from a bloodline of vampire hunters. It’s a good job too, because the town is about to be hit by a demonic vampire threat, and she’s the only one who can stop it. Just another day in the life of a teenage girl, right?

I got massive Saturday Morning Cartoon vibes from #BLUD from the moment I started playing, with its goofy yet charming storytelling complemented by the delightful cartoon-like aesthetic that wouldn’t look out of place on Cartoon Network. It’s simply oozing with personality throughout, with Becky Brewster not only a likable protagonist but the supporting cast also a zany bunch that fit in perfectly with the chaotic vibe that the game is going for. It made the game world especially fun to be a part of, whilst the comical writing makes story progression or simply interacting with characters all the more enjoyable… it’s good stuff.

However, when it comes to the gameplay, #BLUD can be a bit more ordinary. Combat could feel a bit button-mashy with its focus on nailing enemies with simple combos, whilst the inconsistent hit boxes make it difficult to line your attacks up perfectly. It’s something you get used to the longer you play, but there were so many occasions where I’d line up an attack that SHOULD have hit only to see it miss. The worst part? I put myself in plenty of vulnerable positions trying to figure out where to strike, meaning I ended up taking unnecessary damage. It isn’t a particularly challenging game so it didn’t cause too many real problems, but it was hard not to feel a little bit frustrated at some of these inconsistencies.

“I got massive Saturday Morning Cartoon vibes from #BLUD from the moment I started playing, with its goofy yet charming storytelling complemented by the delightful cartoon-like aesthetic that wouldn’t look out of place on Cartoon Network.”

It’s a shame too, because combat does become more interesting as you progress through the game. Becky will unlock additional abilities to build upon her repertoire of attacks (my personal favourite was the throwable pencils which can be used to stake vampires… nice), whilst some enemies or bosses demand specific strategies in order to take them down. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll still find yourself button-mashing combos a lot of the time, but those moments where you have to revise your strategy and use your full arsenal help ensure that #BLUD’s combat doesn’t get too repetitive the longer you play. It’s just a shame that hitting the attacks to bypass their defences or get the upper hand can be so fiddly in the first place.

Some of the upgrades you unlock can be used in exploration too, such as the shovel that’ll let you dig your way across the map or the rope-dart that’ll help you reach inaccessible areas. It can make scouring your surroundings more interesting, especially if you’re the type of player that wants to find every collectible in the game. Speaking of which, there are an abundance of goodies to find when travelling across Carpentersville, whilst there are plenty of side quests to complete too – it’s a surprisingly meaty game (my playthrough came in at around fifteen-hours), and despite not offering anything too exciting from a gameplay perspective, the wonderful storytelling of #BLUD made the side quests easy to invest in.

The main mission design is pretty good too, with the dungeons you explore creative in design and implementing a good balance of platforming action and combat to keep players busy. Whilst #BLUD isn’t really a platforming masterclass, there are plenty of hazards and obstacles to face that’ll demand quick and clever movement to keep yourself out of danger. The occasional puzzle will pop-up too, and whilst they won’t leave you scratching your head for too long, it’s nice to have something to break up the action. Add to that some cool boss encounters and it’ll be clear that #BLUD’s dungeons certainly stand out as a highlight of the experience.

Check out some screenshots down below:

One neat idea in the game is Perch, a social media platform that’ll track a lot of your progress and build upon the lore of the world. You’ll share interactions with other characters there, post pictures, and just learn more about Carpentersville or your mission, with Perch playing a big role in your progression through the game. Plenty of other games have introduced social media features into their gameplay, but it’s especially effective here.

There’s plenty of cool things going on in #BLUD then, with it getting all of the basics right to ensure it’s fun to play. It looks gorgeous too, and whilst I’ve already mentioned the whole Saturday Morning Cartoon vibe that it has going on, the screenshots don’t do justice to how good it looks in motion. It gets all of those *little* details right too, such as the stupid little faces Becky pulls when posing for selfies – I know, I know, it’s a small detail, but it’s something that felt like a wonderful throwback to the cartoons that clearly inspired the look and feel of the game.

It’s just a shame that #BLUD has a few little problems that hold it back from reaching its full potential. It gets lots right, but the combat’s clunkier moments are hard to ignore, whilst the pacing could feel a little bit off too. Exploration often felt a bit slow-paced, whilst the abundance of tasks to complete got a little tiresome and repetitive by the time I reached the last couple of hours of the game.

#BLUD Review

#BLUD is a really cool experience with an awesome Saturday Morning Cartoon vibe, but the lacking combat can hold it back a little. It’s not that anything is bad at all, but rather that it could feel a little bit fiddly thanks to some awkward hitboxes and repetitive actions. It’s a shame too because there are some interesting ideas that are introduced to combat as you progress and face tougher foes, but it doesn’t always pay-off.

Despite this, I still enjoyed my time with the game, with the world and dungeon design proving exceptional throughout and the storytelling keeping me fully invested in Becky’s wacky plight. And the cartoon-like visuals? I loved them. It just maybe needed a bit more work to fine-tune some of its flaws, but hey, it’s nothing a patch or two won’t fix.

Developer: Exit 73 Studios
Publisher: Humble Games
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch