This title is exclusive to PC, and was reviewed as such.
Do you remember the good old days of FPS? Doom 2, Rise of the Triad, Duke Nukem 3D? I’m sure at least one of these will ring some bells whether you are young or old. Do you recall a shooter that came out slightly later called Blood? Nope – me either! But either way, everyone has the chance to donate their time to this remastered version, Blood: Fresh Supply.
I mentioned those seminal old DOS FPS games for a reason, and it was a primer: Blood: Fresh Supply is not a looker. Your mileage may vary with regards to how you value these old pixelated, sprite-based shooters, but being at the ‘end’ of that pseudo-2D era, it is one of the better examples. Nice touches include basic dismemberment (and the comedic kicking around of a head like a rubber bouncy ball is timelessly amusing), and some simple reflection and lighting effects.
Whilst the blocky nature of the character models remain, there’s actually a decent amount of visual diversity in Blood: Fresh Supply. The enemies are unique and creepy horror story classics, and a good stab is made at keeping things diverse with the level design.
Being such an old engine with minor nips and tucks, one good thing is that it runs very smooth on today’s fancy (and not so fancy) hardware. Resolution can be set up to 4K and crazy framerates are supported; it was nice to play something that could max out my monitor’s 144hz!
Blood: Fresh Supply genuinely shocked me with its gameplay… not in the way you might expect! For a game over 20 years old, it ‘feels’ great. It has enough depth to provide a challenge, but is simplistic enough to romp around blasting stuff.
Doing some research, this was one of the first FPS games to employ an ‘alternate fire’ function; something we nowadays take for granted. This helps make the gunplay satisfying and varied. And speaking of which, the weaponry is a good blend of classic and wacky: machine guns and shotguns are there, obviously, but also a lighter/spray can combo (functioning as a flamethrower and a firebomb by using alt mode) and voodoo doll, which drains your health to shrivel enemies to a husk.
Level design is something that can make or break these titles. Each chapter has a different theme, so it helps to keep the boredom at bay. It also puts out some genuinely interesting stages – the train and hospital levels were stand out for me.
There are some ‘classic’ niggles that are normal: find-key-open-door fests, obscure and frustrating waypointing, blatant jumpscare/ambush setups (Oh I REALLY wonder what happens if I pick up this guns akimbo power up in a room with sliding panels?). But all in all, it has aged remarkably well.
Being a remaster, you get the full suite of bonus content and add on packs too. Whilst not the same quality as the main campaign episodes, they can give a bit of an extra challenge. Mods and building tools from the original game work with this newer one as well, so you could theoretically blast away forever. Multiplayer is included as well, both competitive and co-op, although I couldn’t find anyone or connect to any servers in my time reviewing. I am sure it would be a riot with friends though.
If you’ve read this far, you won’t be surprised to learn that Blood: Fresh Supply has an overall average sound package. The audio hasn’t been remastered at all from what I can gather.
The MIDI synth music does fit well with the gothic horror setting though, and Caleb’s quips (a la Duke Nukem) are quite cute. Sound effects are pretty cut and paste, and I have nothing really to report other than that they are fine!
Whilst doing some light reading on the game before I started playing it, I learned that there was hardly any background and/or world building put into the original release; if you wanted to delve into the plot fully, you had to open a good old text file! Again – not that surprising from PC games of that era, but worth mentioning as there hasn’t been any additional context or story added in this remaster.
Saying that, I’ll give you a head start as it’s quite interesting. You play as Caleb, the most cherished of the disciples of Slavic god Chernobog (might ring a bell if you’ve ever played a Persona game or watched American Gods). Being an all-round evil person, they murder you and leave you for dead in a shallow grave. Sometime later, you awaken and do the first thing that any sane person would do in that situation – immediately grab a pitchfork and begin your quest for answers and vengeance…but mostly the latter. It’s all a silly gothic affair battling hooded cultists, fishmen, gargoyles, and other baroque beasties, but it’s all charming enough to keep you engaged.
I came away from this review feeling frustrated. Frustrated at myself, mostly, for missing such a fun game all these years. I was enamoured by the shiny new 3D games that came out in the same period like Quake, Unreal etc, but Blood: Fresh Supply is a glory and joyful rumpus that is underpinned with such great mechanics akin to Doom (2016). It might be a bit buggy and crash prone, but it’s retro stress relief at its finest.