Blightbound Review

To give context for why Blightbound is good requires writing about Ronimo Games’s previous title Awesomenauts. Awesomenauts was a 2D side scrolling MOBA, and although characters were split among many classes, the quintessential ones were Tank, Support and DPS. For those not familiar a Tank soaks up damage, Support heals and buffs those around them, and DPS does tons of damage but will crumble if any unit turns their attention on them.

This game was phenomenally good because the tight PvP focus and limited player count meant that each character must play their role well, while also spending their time with their head on pivot. They weren’t just monitoring their own health; they were keeping an eye on their opponents’ too. They were having to track their ability cooldowns, as well as keep themselves positionally relevant. Players who didn’t find the groove of their class, as well as how they fit together as a team, were crushed.

This philosophy is definitely passed down to Blightbound and its entire design. It means that every player needs to ask themselves ‘Do I like the divide of me being good and being utterly terrible decided by a paper-thin barrier?’. If the answer is ‘yes,’ then this game is a must.

Blightbound is a 3-player, 2D brawler with loot and a levelling system. It is run based, with each player (or bot) required to pick a warrior, rogue or mage – the same paradigm as Awesomenauts. There can only be one of each type and the levels and monster encounters are explicitly built with that in mind. Each class has skills and ultimates that are on a cool down. Applying these judiciously is the key to survival. A good encounter has the warrior popping a roar that will draw all enemies towards them, while the mage casts the shield on them and the rogue flits among the opponents and stabs them in the back. A bad encounter, and this happens frequently, has all players crawling around looking for their teeth.

After the limited tutorial the player is left to their own devices. There are different missions to pick from and their difficulty is decided on the team strength and the blight challenge. There is Impossible, Very Hard, Hard, Tough, Normal etc. My own experience is that trying anything above Normal is going to result in my character getting curb-stomped; this is not Diablo.

This is not helped by the eccentric levelling and upgrade system – the only real way to make any progress is to finish a level. Me and my co-players spent the first day stuck in a situation where we couldn’t even equip new gear because we could not finish a level.

Blightbound made me work for my victories and I ended up really liking that dimension – I could not button mash my way through a level and had to seriously consider tactics and the dynamic of my team.

If this was all that Blightbound was then I would be keen to tell people that they should play it. The problem is that the game is fundamentally broken.

Over the course of reviewing the game, there were frequent crashes for me. Given that a player cannot rejoin a session once they are kicked out and do not get any loot or progress, it means that it is possible to lose 20-30 minutes of hard-fought time. The crashes were so frequent that I started to feel like I was being robbed.

A way to avoid this is by playing with only bots, there are no crashes, and the AI does a pretty good job of playing optimally. Unless it is one of the puzzles littered throughout. There was one in particular that I ended up having to quit to the man menu as my ‘teammates’ refused to step on the right pressure pads – meaning I could not progress. Quitting to the main menu means losing gear and XP found in that run.

It is deeply frustrating because what is there is really good.

Conclusion

Blightbound is a couple of fixes away from being the new hardcore favourite – mechanically demanding, it plays more like a precise competitive multiplayer game than a dungeon-crawler. It is let down by copious crashing and poor pathing from the AI.

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This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox Series X/S. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.
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Good
  • Punishing gameplay that demands mastery
  • Unique perspective on the dungeon crawler
Bad
  • Hard to decipher progression system
  • Too many bugs
6.6
Okay
Gameplay - 8.5
Graphics - 7
Audio - 7
Longevity - 4
Written by
AJ Small is a games industry veteran, starting in QA back in 2004. He currently walks the earth in search of the tastiest/seediest drinking holes as part of his attempt to tell every single person on the planet that Speedball 2 and The Chaos Engine are the greatest games ever made. He can be found on twitter (@badgercommander), where he welcomes screenshots of Dreamcast games and talk about Mindjack, just don’t mention that one time he was in Canada.

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