I can't stop thinking about this Zelda-like dungeon crawler about taking on a wackily animated vampire apocalypse

#BLUD screenshot with Indie Spotlight bug
(Image credit: Exit 73 Studios/Humble Games)

There's no easy way to say this that doesn't sound like hyperbole, but #BLUD (pronounced as "hashtag blood," for reference) from developer Exit 73 Studios and publisher Humble Games is like someone took the general premise of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and mixed it in a blender with the cartoon aesthetics of The Powerpuff Girls and Cuphead with Zelda-like dungeon crawling. In a very real way, it feels like someone put up a mood board when creating this game that was explicitly designed to cater to my sensibilities. And, well, it's worked; I've been absolutely sucked (Get it? Because vampires?) in.

#BLUD puts players in the shoes of one Becky Brewster, a plucky protagonist that attends high school in lovely Carpentersville. But not all is as it seems, however, as some sort of demonic force has arrayed here and Becky finds herself shunted to the forefront of the vampire apocalypse with a trusty field hockey stick in tow.

#BLUD for the #BLUD god

#BLUD Official Launch Trailer | Humble Games - YouTube #BLUD Official Launch Trailer | Humble Games - YouTube
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The game wears its inspirations on its sleeve, and from the jump it's obvious that the cartoony dungeon crawler is going to be a mix of gross horror and comedy. What's less obvious is how well these inspirations mesh, as my early time with #BLUD felt a bit sluggish and bogged down with meeting various NPCs and mechanics – not to mention several fetch quests.

That's not to say all of that's boring or unnecessary. Any kind of prologue that takes several steps is always going to feel like friction getting in the way of a good time, and at least #BLUD has the good fortune of genuinely looking great – the various enemy animations and zany squishing of characters are a major highlight – from the moment it begins. But it took about an hour, hour and a half to get to a point where I actually felt like I was doing something mechanically meaningful.

Speaking of slow starts, combat against the bugs and rats you initially fight will likely feel somewhat clunky to those accustomed to, say, Hades or the like. I never could quite shake the feeling that I was woefully misjudging distances or directions as I attempted to punch my way out of problems. But once I unlocked the aforementioned field hockey stick (and then the upgrades to it), it all smoothed out considerably. There's a nice, nougaty center to #BLUD's gameplay if you can stand to chew for just a bit first.


#BLUD screenshot

(Image credit: Exit 73 Studios/Humble Games)

Thankfully, the joyful love for animation and goofy illustrations takes no time at all to get going. Every hit, every emotive reaction, every idle animation, and generally every little part of the game that moves has been lovingly rendered and exaggerated in a way that so very clearly draws from classic cartoons as well as modern indie ones. (I'm also a sucker for a title card.) The quest system is handled through a fictional social media app that Becky uses to interact with friends, complete with animated selfies featuring multiple different poses for her to strike – which can also reveal monster weaknesses, by the by.

This goes a long way as you unlock further upgrades and explore more of the map with even wackier animations opening up for everything from combat finishers to boss battles. And the latter truly do shine, both from an animation and mechanical perspective, to showcase what really works with #BLUD. While early combat against generic foes felt sluggish to me, every single boss battle from the very first basement rat/abomination was a highlight. Even the early tutorial boss battle against a wayward washing machine contraption was generally a good time, actually.

I've not finished the game yet, so perhaps my opinion will change or shift in some way as I continue to play. But as it stands, I've only grown to enjoy #BLUD more the more I've seen. When it comes to games we highlight like this, I can't think of stronger praise than the fact that I'm still thinking about it, I'm still enjoying it, and I actively want to play more. In other words, #BLUD does not suck, despite all the vampires.

#BLUD is out now on PC via the Humble Store and Steam, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. To see what other indie gems we've been enjoying so far, be sure to check out our Indie Spotlight series. 

Rollin Bishop
US Managing Editor

Rollin is the US Managing Editor at GamesRadar+. With over 16 years of online journalism experience, Rollin has helped provide coverage of gaming and entertainment for brands like IGN, Inverse, ComicBook.com, and more. While he has approximate knowledge of many things, his work often has a focus on RPGs and animation in addition to franchises like Pokemon and Dragon Age. In his spare time, Rollin likes to import Valkyria Chronicles merch and watch anime.