The studio Wales Interactive has really started making a name for themselves in the FMV video game genre. Instead of gameplay focused on fast paced action, these games are focused more on the story and utilize video of real actors to tell the story. While I have never played a game made by Wales Interactive before, I have enjoyed games from this genre in the past. Even if the gameplay can be kind of limited, a good story where your decisions can actually make a difference can overcome having more limited gameplay. When I saw Bloodshore the latest game by Wales Interactive I was intrigued as it has an interesting concept of a reality show battle royale where the contestants actually try to kill one another. Bloodshore’s gameplay is kind of limited and will not be for everyone, but the game makes player’s decisions matter while telling an interesting story.
In Bloodshore you play as Nick. Nick is an actor who made a name for himself in a series of teen supernatural movies. After the series ended though his career never took off and he became a sort of washed up celebrity. To revitalize his career he decides to join the latest season of the hit reality show Kill/Stream. This is no normal reality show though as it is a real life battle royale where the contestants are openly encouraged to kill each other to win a large cash prize and the fame that comes with it. Can you survive and win Kill/Stream and maybe discover along the way that everything might not be as it first seems?
While this is kind of an oversimplification, in a way Bloodshore feels like more of an interactive movie than a traditional video game. The game utilizes full motion video with it being shot like a movie/tv show. Throughout the story you will presented with choices. You have a limited amount of time to pick one of the two choices. The choice you make then has an impact on what happens later in the story. Your decisions can change events that you will encounter later in the story or even which characters live and die.
If this wasn’t already obvious Bloodshore is the type of game that is not going to be for everyone. In many ways it is not your typical video game. There is no real skill to the game and outside of having to choose an option pretty quickly, the game doesn’t feature any fast paced gameplay. If the idea of watching a movie and occasionally getting to make a choice that impacts what happens doesn’t sound like your type of game, Bloodshore is not going to be for you. Those who like these type of games though, should keep reading as they may really enjoy Bloodshore.
As the choices you make in the game are pretty much all of the gameplay, it was critical that these decisions actually matter to the overall story where it feels like your decisions actually impact the story. I would say that the game does a pretty good job in this area. Most of the time it feels like your decisions make an impact on what happens later. Each decision has an impact on your relationship with other characters on the show and even the audience. These relationships will open up or close off options later in the game. Other decisions directly impact what path you go down. Some of these decisions may seem somewhat trivial and some are, but most of them actually have a noticeable impact on the story. I played through the game a couple times and actively chose different options in order to see the impacts on the story. Characters can die based on your decisions while in other stories they could play a pivotal role later in the story. There seems to be a couple paths through the island that you can take, and the decisions you make will end up impacting which path you end up taking.
While I give the game a lot of credit for making your decisions feel like they matter, I did have a few issues with this aspect of the game. The biggest is that the story seems to have certain plot points which will happen no matter what you do throughout the rest of the story. For example you can choose decisions which directly lead to Nick’s death early in the story. I purposefully tried to get the character killed early on just to see how that would happen. Instead the game gives you a fake “Game Over” screen and then just rewinds before the death and forces you to choose a different option. I actively chose the opposite choice for almost all of the choices in two consecutive plays and a few key plot points happened in both playthroughs except with slightly different circumstance due to the choices that I made. While my decisions felt like they mattered, it feels like the game will direct you to certain scenarios no matter what you choose. I can understand the need for some of these scenes as there is a limit of how much footage could be shot and if you truly made every decision matter some endings could take minutes while others could be much longer. With this approach the game made each ending around the same length where none ran too long or too short. I still wish there was a little more flexibility to parts of the story though as it takes away some of the feeling that your decisions have a direct impact on the story.
No matter what choices you make in the game there will be sections of the game that will play out in the same way. For this reason I personally would recommend playing the game in a more staggered approach. As long as you have enough time to complete a playthrough, I would probably recommend playing through to the end of the story. I don’t really see the game being the type that you will want to play back to back though. These sections that don’t really change do become more noticeable if you play the game back to back choosing different options. For this reason I personally would recommend playing a game and then waiting some time before playing through it again. This should keep the story a little fresher instead of having all of the different paths start to blend together.
With the gameplay out of the way, it is time to move onto the story. With the gameplay being limited to occasionally making choices, the story is a key component to the game’s overall success. I will say that the story is not going to be for everyone. It can be kind of violent at times which is not surprising from a real life battle royale reality show. Due to the game’s budget though the special effects can be kind of obvious/cheesy at times. This somewhat breaks immersion but in other ways adds to the story as it adds some silliness. At times the story reminds me of a bad action movie in a good way.
As for the story itself I am not going to get into specifics in order to avoid spoilers. In a lot of ways the story is about what people are willing to do for money/fame. Some of the contestants are in it for the money as they have financial troubles. Others are solely in it for the fame as for some reason a show about people actually killing one another is the most popular show in this game’s universe. Winning the show for some reason automatically makes you one of the most famous people in the world. The game in some ways is a commentary on what some people will do for fame as well as celebrity culture and internet culture/social media. I would say that the story doesn’t really get into deep philosophical ideas as it is pretty lighthearted for the most part, but there is some depth to it in areas.
I liked Bloodshore’s story for the most part. I was initially intrigued by the game as the premise sounded interesting. The game does a pretty good job with it for the most part. The game’s world is interesting if not a little disturbing with how much the viewers are obsessed with violence. As for the endings I think it kind of depends. There are endings that I definitely preferred over others. That is not all that surprising as everyone will likely have their own preferences. I will say that depending on what choices you make there likely will be holes in the story that you will miss in just one playthrough. While there is an ending that I preferred the most, another ending gave me additional information which brings more context to the ending that I liked the most.
As for the game’s length it really depends on how you decide to play the game. It may slightly change based on the decisions that you make, but I would say that most games will take around an hour to an hour and 15 minutes to complete. After your first playthrough the game does give you the option to skip through scenes that you have already seen which should speed up future playthroughs. The real length of the game will come from playing through the game multiple times in order to try and see all of the different endings and scenes in the game. The game has around 250 different scenes I believe, and at the end of each game it tells you how many of the scenes that you have seen. I believe after the first time through the game I had seen around 55-60 of the scenes. After the second playthrough I was up to around 100 or so of the scenes. I am not sure how many different endings that the game has, but I would guess that there are at least five different endings. If you try to get all of the endings and see all of the scenes it could take some time. If you only play through the game once or twice though you may be a little disappointed by the game’s length.
Bloodshore is one of those games where players are likely going to have vastly different opinions about. In a lot of ways the game plays like more of an interactive movie than a traditional video game. The gameplay consists of occasionally choosing one of two options which will impact the story going forward. This is not going to be for some gamers that want a more traditional gaming experience. If this sounds interesting to you though I think you will enjoy the game. Your decisions in the game actually seem to make a difference as they can kill or save some of the other characters or even open up totally different scenarios that wouldn’t have happened if you made a different choice. I generally think the game gives players quite a bit of freedom even if there are parts of the story that it basically guides you towards no matter what choices you make. The story itself is pretty good even if it might not be for everyone. It is generally approached in a pretty lighthearted/action movie way, but it also has some interesting ideas about what people are willing to do for fame and money. Each run through the game is pretty short at only an hour to an hour and 15 minutes, but most of the length comes from trying to explore all of the different options.
My recommendation for the game basically comes down to your thoughts on the interactive movie gameplay and the story premise. If one or both of these don’t really interest you, I don’t think Bloodshore will be the game for you. Those who enjoy the interactive movie gameplay though and are intrigued by the real life battle royale premise, should enjoy Bloodshore and consider picking it up.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Wales Interactive, Good Gate Media, Wayout Pictures, and Posterity Entertainment for the review copy of Bloodshore used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.