GamingReview: Blightbound

Review: Blightbound

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Fantasy games create some of the weirdest and most beautiful worlds you’ll ever experience. Without the demands of realism and accuracy, the developers are free to do as they wish. I’m always excited whenever I get my hands on anything within this genre, and Blightbound was no different.

Developed by Ronimo Games and published by Devolver Digital, this is a dungeon-crawling rogue-like RPG. Set in a desolate land, you control a trio of heroes who must change the villagers’ fortunes. You’ll crawl many dungeons to save fallen warriors, collect loot, and increase your levels. The world is a dank place and the monsters are worse still. Everything is out to get you, and death is a horrendous punishment. Staying alive is difficult and the only hope is to work together to defeat your foes.

Blightbound contains a classic plot with some fantastic ideas.

Blightbound uses a story that you’ve heard a million times before. However, it has a unique twist, and this makes it a fascinating experience. The story revolves around a hamlet that is surrounded by a fog known as the Blight. The people of this land spent decades fighting a being known as a Shadow Titan. To curse those that stood in his way, he released the Blight to corrupt humans and turn them into disfigured monsters. Your trio of heroes must enter the dungeons, destroy the bosses and rid the world of this foul entity….so, no pressure there then!

Your band comprises a “tank” warrior, a nimble assassin, and a powerful mage. As the game progresses, you unlock more characters in each of these fields, but your group must contain each of these classes. Each hero improves their stats by completing each dungeon and returning to the refuge alive. Here the spoils of war are shared and you may improve any fighter who has increased their level. So, it’s standard RPG mechanics, but with the risk of losing it all. Death in the dungeon returns you to the safety of the hamlet, but you lose everything you have collected. It’s classic rogue-like elements will keep you on your toes and make you scream with rage.

Hack away at the enormous monsters.

An excellent concept thwarted by poor execution and terrible matchmaking.

Blightbound sells itself as a fun and tactical multiplayer experience. It wants you to join friends or strangers online as you venture into each dungeon. Sadly, though, its appalling matchmaking system ensures that this rarely happens. If you have two mates that wish to join you, you’ll have a blast, but other than that, you are restricted to playing with the idiotic AI. Online matchmaking is impacted heavily because of its key concept. Each team must comprise one of each class and if this cannot happen, you won’t match with anyone. The popular class of mage is always taken and gamers rarely want to use the other roles. It was an oversight by the developers and perhaps random characters should have been allocated.

The AI is God awful! They are, however, accurate and useful in battle, but they are lacking in every other department. You are left exposed by their weaknesses repeatedly and issuing commands falls on deaf ears. In a game where death is costly, this will make you scream.

Can a game redeem itself if its USP is fundamentally flawed?

This setback for the developers made me think, “can a game redeem itself if it’s fundamentally flawed?” Usually not, but Blightbound has enough quality components that you’ll still enjoy the core game. With customisation options, many fighters to select, attribute improvements, unique equipment, and a vibrant hamlet, there are lots to mask the shortcomings.

Your time within the labyrinthine dungeons is thoroughly enjoyable, if not a little repetitive. There are unique goals to conquer and an array of monsters and bosses to defeat. Annoyingly, though, it leans on its hack ‘n slash crutch a little too much for my liking. You will, however, enjoy the exploration elements, the gathering of loot, and the destruction of your foes. Also, the sense of achievement upon victory is euphoric. This feeling is experienced rarely during the later stages as you rely on your useless AI colleagues. In short, the end game is extremely difficult, if not impossible, without human input, so get some friends on board.

Teamwork is key to a successful run.

Blightbound has a dark fantasy aesthetic and harrowing audio to set the mood.

My love for this genre stems from the wonderful stories and the fantastic imagery. Blightbound didn’t disappoint me and I was left surprised by the brilliant contrasting colours of the heroes. The vivid armour and striking sprites stood out against a grey and oppressive backdrop. The isometric viewpoint was fantastic and allowed me a clear view of the hectic action before me.

Unfortunately, there were some visual glitches and bugs that impacted the gameplay. Monsters and heroes would clip the scenery and become stuck, forcing you to quit the game and lose progress. This was thoroughly disappointing and tainted an already challenging experience further. Other than these glitches, the game ran smoothly and if the developers can remove the bugs, the game will be a much more rounded and polished product.

The hard-hitting audio was punctuated with comical one-liners, and the heavy and dominating soundtrack was accompanied by fizzing spells and booming blows. The audio plays up to its fantasy theme, and this was one of the magical elements contained within Blightbound. With death just around the corner and the risk of losing everything weighing on your mind, humour was key. I chuckled repeatedly at the most inopportune moments as the banter flowed. It was childish, but I never tired of it.

Images of death haunt you.

A clean UI, but still confusing to play.

I can’t fault Ronimo Games for their well-designed UI, but it didn’t make it any less confusing. With multiple actions per class and various methods to fill each gauge, it took ages to become comfortable with the controls. I loved Blightbound’s enthusiasm and desire to provide multiple methods of attack, but it over-complicated the matter unnecessarily. Once you master your favourite class, you’ll be laughing. Until then, grit your teeth and get on with it.

If the matchmaking issues are resolved, or you have a great group of friends, you’ll spend hours crawling the dungeons. There is plenty of potential for replay value, however, it’s not got there yet. I desperately wanted to move up the ranks and dive into harder quests, sadly I couldn’t. This tainted the experience for me, and I wasn’t willing to invest hours to guarantee failure every time.

Blightbound is too clever for its good.

The core concept within Blightbound is fantastic, but it’s also holding it back. The ideas are clever and work in theory, but unfortunately, gamers are fickle. No one will choose a class they dislike and this prevents players from progressing. Happily, it could be fantastic if there were some minor tweaks made. I liked it and recommend you to buy it here! Just be aware of its shortcomings before you invest. The Blight has thwarted mankind for too long! Enter the dungeon, defeat the monsters, and rid your land of this foul entity.

Enjoy the video review with in game footage shot from my Series X.

SUMMARY

Blightbound is a fantasy rogue-like RPG with hack 'n slash qualities. A wonderfully dark presentation and great ideas are hampered by poor matchmaking and idiotic AI. A title with such potential, but it's held back by inadequacies in its core concept.

+ Brilliant graphics and contrasting tones.
+ Moody audio.
+ Comical dialogue.
+ The Dungeon crawling is fun, albeit repetitive.
+ The three classes are unique.
- Complicated controls.
- Idiotic AI.
- Poor matchmaking.
- Fails to fulfil its potential.

(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. PC and PlayStation.)
Daniel Waite
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email: Daniel@moviesgamesandtech.com
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Review: BlightboundBlightbound is a fantasy rogue-like RPG with hack 'n slash qualities. A wonderfully dark presentation and great ideas are hampered by poor matchmaking and idiotic AI. A title with such potential, but it's held back by inadequacies in its core concept. <br/> <br/> + Brilliant graphics and contrasting tones. <br/> + Moody audio. <br/> + Comical dialogue. <br/> + The Dungeon crawling is fun, albeit repetitive. <br/> + The three classes are unique. <br/> - Complicated controls. <br/> - Idiotic AI. <br/> - Poor matchmaking. <br/> - Fails to fulfil its potential. <br> <br/> (Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. PC and PlayStation.) <br/>