Blood Alloy: Reborn began its journey as a Kickstarter project back in 2013. At the time, developer Suppressive Fire Games was hoping to create the title in the popular Metroidvania style, and it was simply titled Blood Alloy. Fast-forward a few years and one failed Kickstarter campaign, and we now have this new version of the game which is, sadly, lackluster on practically all fronts. It's a shame, too, because the basic foundations are solid enough, but it's clear that this game is the product of a dream not fully realized.
A Disheartening Lack of Content
When I play a game that's either really bad or bare-bones (or both), I tend to get frustrated. Sometimes I get legitimately angry at the developers for releasing something so poor. With Blood Alloy: Reborn, I don't feel that way. Instead, I feel a bit bummed out for Suppressive Fire Games, because the studio did what it thought was best to deliver on a promise to its fans. I was never part of that group of Kickstarter backers, but after researching the game and then seeing it pop up on Steam, I was hopeful for something promising.
The first game that came to mind when I checked out Blood Alloy: Reborn was Strider. In a lot of ways, Blood Alloy: Reborn could be seen as an homage of sorts to that classic hack-and-slash series. The moment you begin playing, though, you immediately see that this is a much different type of gameplay experience, and not for the better.
For starters, there are only three main stages and a tutorial stage. This tutorial is a quick run through a small stage, and it hastily introduces all of the controls, actions, and gameplay back-to-back. It's all quite rushed, and if you're not paying too much attention, some of the mechanics may not stick right away as you're literally being taught one attack after another with no time to put them all to practice in any meaningful capacity.
When you start the actual game, you only have access to one stage. It's not exactly massive, but it's a decent arena-sized area. Robotic enemies slowly trickle in, and you can either blast them away or slice them up. The longer you stay alive, the more enemies flood the screen, and it isn't long before you're taking out baddies left and right with your guns and blades. The problem is that that's literally all you do. This is an entirely score-based affair, and after a while, it gets repetitive and dull.
You unlock new stages, weapons, and equipment by leveling up, but doing so can become cumbersome. It never feels like you're progressing all that much, so replaying the same stages over and over again to increase your level quickly becomes stale. There are special objectives to complete such as not attacking enemies for one or two minutes and staying in the air for three seconds, but these are uninteresting for the most part. By the end of it all, Blood Alloy: Reborn just feels like a straight-up grind.
What Could Have Been
You'll be spending a lot of time in the same three areas once they're all unlocked, and the lack of visual variety doesn't exactly help things. Sure, the three stages look thematically different, but they're not exactly filled with aesthetic charm, and they don't deliver on the promised cyberpunk look. The blurred backgrounds and drab pixelated character designs don't do much to grab your attention, and everything is mostly unattractive to look at. I actually like the original Sega Genesis-styled look the game had when it was on Kickstarter — it certainly had more personality.
At least the music is decent, with a few cool, thumping beats playing on as you blast enemies. Unfortunately, even the sound design is marred by some odd design choices. Specifically, when your health is low, the music's volume is lowered substantially to the point where you can barely hear it, creating an annoying audio effect.
Ultimately, it's very evident that Blood Alloy: Reborn is but a mere fragment of what was supposed to be something much, much bigger and potentially better. Though the basic idea behind its mechanics is good, nothing is executed in any sort of enjoyable fashion. The gameplay is hardly interesting, the visuals are bad, the sound is okay but plagued by inconsistencies, and there's just not much there to keep you coming back.
Even if you're a high score chaser, I'd wager that you're better off playing something else — like Ubermosh, which at $2 will cost you a fraction of the $13 price tag of Blood Alloy: Reborn.. Sadly, all you get here is the smaller, devolved version of what was once a pretty neat idea.