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Blood Knights preview - Hands-on the vampire action-RPG

Blood Knights is a vampire-themed, isometric action-RPG with a heavy emphasis on cooperative play. Developers Deck 13 took inspiration from RPGs like Baldur's Gate, crafting a game that takes players to Transylvania where you and a friend slay vampires, werewolves, and other mythical creatures in local-only co-op.  We had a chance to play through the first dungeon and get a taste of the co-op-centric gameplay.  

Blood Knight puts you in control of two vampires who must combine their skills to overcome each level's challenges. Jeremy is a dual-wielding melee fighter, while Liz is a ranged combatant armed with two crossbows. Each character has skills that complement the other: For instance, Jeremy has the ability to lift objects with his mind and pull them towards him, and Liz can lift objects and push them away. In co-op, we came across a large gap in a staircase. To get across, Liz needed to lift Jeremy and throw him across the gap, then Jeremy could lift Liz from the other side and pull her to him. The developers mentioned that this was one of the simpler examples of cooperative puzzle-solving, and that later puzzles would force players to interact with each other and work together in more complex ways.

Combat also emphasizes cooperative play. Jeremy takes the role of a tank, using his heavy armor and melee weapons to hold back groups of enemies, while Liz rapidly flings arrows and tosses bombs from a distance. A single character can easily become overwhelmed by a group of enemies, so it's important to watch your partner's back. Also, certain enemies can only be damaged by a specific character. Enemy archers will stand on distant ledges and must be shot down by Liz, while Jeremy's the only one who can break through shield-bearing enemies' defenses. 

Killing enemies, earning experience, and gaining levels will allow your characters to equip higher-level loot (which you'll find via chests and enemy drops) and unlock new abilities. One of the earlier skills we had access to was Jeremy's powerful slam skill that can be used to break objects, shatter shields, and set off explosive barrels; also made use of his whirlwind attack which quickly cuts down weaker enemies. Liz's fire arrows and grenades are useful for taking out groups of enemies at a distance or igniting out-of-reach explosives on fire to clear path-blocking debris. Along with the attack skills, the duo also earns vampire skills. The first you gain is the ability to share blood (your health) between the two protagonists, which allows you to revive a fallen partner or keep their health bolstered during a fight. To replenish your health, you can drain it from dying humans impaled on spikes spread across levels that act as a health font, or suck it straight out of the weaker enemies. 

Although Blood Knights is meant to be played with a co-op partner, a single-player mode is also available. Instead of controlling both characters, you'll be able to switch between the two on the fly with a button press. This inherently changes the gameplay, since the push/pull-style puzzle solving we explained earlier isn't possible with only one character on-screen. Unfortunately, single-player simply yanks those situations our entirely. It looks like you'll have to have a buddy play with you to get the full experience.

Blood Knights will be available for download on October 31 for XBLA, PSN and PC. 

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1 comment

  • FrapJedi - August 23, 2012 6:26 p.m.

    Gameplay-wise, this looks fantastic! The voice acting, on the other hand...

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