The whole concept of Battle Royale in games, and the appetite for being the last player standing has been in our psyches for a good few years, mostly thanks to the popular releases of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and the behemoth that is Fortnite. Since then many games have tried to cash in, incorporating the game mode in whatever they do; Forza and Red Dead Redemption 2 being two high profile cases. Lately, it’s been Netflix’s TV series of Squid Game which has made the format even more popular with the wider public. So it’s handy that Wales Interactive have released their latest full-motion video game – Bloodshore – onto the market; released at just about the right time. You see, this is a game which is all about the horrors and fun of Battle Royale. Let’s parachute in.
Wales Interactive have produced a wealth of FMV video games over the last few years – from The Bunker through to the most recent, the lockdown-made game Night Book. The last few games have been quite serious in their horror roots, and there have certainly been some hits and misses. I’ve always loved playing these games though and fully admire what the developers are able to create with a limited budget and timescale.
Bloodshore’s whole premise is a lot more fun – and campy as hell. The idea is that there is a popular TV show – Kill/Stream – which is like a cross between Celebrity Big Brother and the movie, Running Man. A whole bunch of Z-list celebrities parachutes onto an Island in six different landing groups and then the games begin. The game is played out via Battle Royale ideas, as the contestants are encouraged to kill each other off so they can eventually be the lone champion. All this is being watched live, filmed by drones 24/7 and broadcast onto everyone’s viewing platform of choice. We the audience love it and watch the demonic presenter and online chat forums buzz with excitement as the contestants live stream to their followers. The whole thing is horrible to watch – but that is definitely the point the developers are trying to make.
You are in charge of Nick, a washed-up Hollywood actor who has taken the gig to reinvent his career. In your group there is an idiot influencer, a hard-boiled assassin, a famous adventurer turned cannibal, games streamer, fighter, and YT blogger. I’ve missed a few out, but you get the idea. Nick has an alternative reason for being on the island though, and that is unveiled quite early on. Although I won’t be spoiling that here.
The story is fun and like any FMV game, there are alternative scenes and endings to unlock as you move through. The dialogue is cheesy at times and for as bad as it sounds, you’ll really hope some people manage to die quite quickly. I liked the way the story flicked between the group on the island and across to the studio, as presenters would comment on the events of the game. Also, there are audience members who we keep flashing back to, watching and analysing what they are seeing. The part where two homeless guys take in the show are a particular highlight. The pace of the story through the action and editing is quick, fast and never gets boring and this means the story fails to drag. It’s seriously campy too, some lines will make you wince, but it’s done in such a committed way that I enjoyed myself throughout.
Gameplay-wise and we find Bloodshore employs the usual techniques of different choices deciding who survives, the direction the narrative goes, and of course, the unlocking of different endings. For example, you get choices of who to save and who to let die in certain situations, or whether you should kill or grant mercy. It all works fine and unlike other games of this genre making a choice never slows down the game with weird pausing or stops. I’d go as far to say that Bloodshore is the most polished Wales Interactive game in terms of this for a while.
The film is well put together as well, delivered to the player with a good collection of shot selections and pacing. The effects work well even though they are low budget and everything has been edited brilliantly, providing a great sense of pacing. The soundtrack and effects are excellent too whilst the performances from the actors are good with a nice mix of the silly and serious. A big shout out must go to the two presenters of Kill/Stream who are having the times of their lives, delivering brilliant over-the-top performances.
Bloodshore is a good back-to-form entry for Wales Interactive. It’s a bloodsoaked, campy thrill ride that mixes a brilliant combination of reality TV show with Battle Royale hijinks. The script is cheesy at times, but at other moments well observed – but at all points the story flows at a brilliantly fast rate. As with any FMV, the gameplay elements are still pretty basic and come down to just decision making, but there are a good number of different possibilities to open up and so if you’re an FMV fan, you’ll want to get down to Bloodshore to see if you can be the last one standing.
Bloodshore is obtainable on Xbox by visiting the Xbox Store