The synth soundtrack is actually pretty good, but the majority of performances are stilted and unnatural.
Action scenes lack impact, with CG muzzle flashes, CG blood spray, and generally shoddy presentation overall. The entire thing just screams low budget, but I guess the actors are framed and lit properly. Erm... That's about it?
What playability? Bloodshore is largely passive, with decision-making all too rare during a sub 2-hour runtime. Unfortunately, despite an interesting premise, it's all a bit boring, too.
There's some enjoyment to be wrought from Bloodshore, if only to see how the few decisions you make impact the story. Whether you'll actually want to take the time to bother, however...
Much as you'd expect – a handful of achievements to unlock by executing different choices during the narrative. It also demands several playthroughs, of course.
November 03, 2021
The Running Man, Battle Royale, and, more recently (and perhaps to a slightly lesser extent), Squid Game have all offered depictions of dystopian death games, where the last person standing in a lethal competition can escape with their life and perhaps a huge cash prize. Bloodshore, the latest FMV game from publisher/co-developer Wales Interactive, treads similar ground, placing you at the centre of a televised battle royale game show on a mysterious island, where fifty misfits fight to the death for a $10 million jackpot. Unlike some of the movies and TV shows its inspired by, however, Bloodshore is more than a little bit silly, and, as it happens, is also almost entirely bereft of character development or genuine tension.
This is you: Nick, the washed-up actor with the good jawline.
Instead, we're presented with eight mostly unsympathetic souls, who've volunteered to take part in a show called 'Kill/Stream', presented by a manic host who revels in the wanton bloodshed. Each time you start up the game, you're reminded that it's laced with “graphic depictions of violence, blood and death,” which are more comical and stupid than graphic. Note a masked death row inmate who steps on a mine, exploding in a fountain of blood, before his mask hits the floor, followed by one of his eyeballs. Or the idiot who plummets to his death while parachuting to the island. Bloodshore seemingly doesn't know what it wants to be, occasionally drifting into slapstick silliness before attempting to wring a modicum of drama out of the situation. Invariably, it doesn’t really succeed.
Chopped together with snippets of viewers watching the show, making ridiculous comments, or interviews expressing moral outrage at the creator of Kill/Stream and Alyn Corp, the evil corporation funding it, despite the show apparently being in its thirteenth season. How it's got that far in the first place, we'll never know, nor is it ever explained, beyond being part of our oh-so human nature to be entertained by abhorrent things. In the middle of all this is washed-up actor and protagonist Nick Romeo, and Bloodshore plays out like a conventional FMV adventure, interrupting what is mostly a passive viewing experience with the odd binary decision. Despite these choices being the crux of the game, they're actually unusually rare, and with some dodgy performances failing to engender much engagement, you might feel your attention span start to wane. The script doesn’t help much either.
Neither the script nor the performances are the main problem, however. The central cast is almost exclusively comprised of unlikeable dickheads; attention-seeking vloggers; and influencers who are taking part in Kill/Stream in a bid to garner views on their social network feeds. Suffice it to say, it stretches suspension of disbelief to near breaking point, and the infrequency with which you're given decisions to make renders Bloodshore less a game, and more a low budget movie that's not particularly exciting. And it's not like there’s a dearth of great television to consume in this day and age – as such, Bloodshore doesn't exactly feel like time well spent.
Well, yes. Quite.
That said, I did enjoy killing off some of the cretinous contestants in Bloodshore, even if the 'game' ultimately doesn't quite hang together in the way you might hope. During the course of each playthrough of Bloodshore, you can track your progress, whether it's team morale, audience opinion, your strength, insight, or (awkward) romantic involvement, and by the end, you're shown how many decisions you made, and the number of scenes you viewed. Bloodshore is set up in a way that encourages repeat viewings, but whether you'll want to experiment, take every path, and see every ending is questionable. You might be better off popping Squid Game on the telly instead.