Blood Will Tell ReviewCain Dornan
The creative, bizarre world of Japanese manga can certainly create interesting characters. Blood Will Tell, created by the somewhat legendary Osamu Tezuka, follows the story of a man who is very different to any lead character that has come before him. Hyakkimaru is not only a skilled swordsman, but is also an expert at shooting grenades from his knee and firing hundreds of projectiles from his machine gun arm. After his father’s agreement to surrender his first-born child to a group of demons in return for absolute power, Hyakkimaru is robbed of forty-eight body parts from birth. In a desperate attempt to save his child, Hyakkimaru’s father somehow decides that it would be a wise decision to place the baby in a barrel and send him down the river. Hyakkimaru is soon discovered by a caring doctor who decides to raise the young, disabled child and provide him with various false body parts, allowing Hyakkimaru to act as a normal human being, despite being laden with numerous fake parts and an arsenal of deadly weapons. These weapons consist of a relatively short sword in each arm, a machine gun in one arm and a large grenade launcher in his knee. With this deadly arsenal of death-bringing toys, Hyakkimaru begins his journey to reclaim his stolen body parts from the forty-eight deadly boss demons, known as the Fiends.
You begin the game with a large amount of your body being man made. As you gradually progress through the game, you regain your original body parts that had been stolen by the Fiends. To introduce you to the basics of the game, the game first pits you through a relatively straightforward tutorial mode, teaching you how to utilize your various weapons that are available to you and to be able to control your character effectively. Collecting your body parts improves different aspects appropriately, such as your attack power and effectiveness, health, speed and endurance.
Some body parts will actually allow Hyakkimaru to do new things. Retrieving your vocal cords allows you to talk in your normal, natural voice, very different to the mechanic-like drone that you begin the game with. Retrieving your left eye will allow you to finally be able to see colour, as you begin the game in a complete black-and-white world.
In addition to the weapons that are connected to your body, a variety of swords are on offer for use. As with any Role Playing or Adventure title, each sword specialises in certain elements: a large, heavy sword is slow to swing but packs a heavy, powerful punch, whilst a lighter sword allows its bearer to swing it quicker, although the damage dealt with each blow is considerably less. Swords begin to play a more major role towards the end of a game, when a large variety of powerful swords are hidden throughout the somewhat large maps, requiring you to carefully search each nook and cranny of a map.
Hyakkimaru is also capable of employing spirit attacks. Running off a Spirit Meter that is regenerated with every blow you deal to an enemy, the Spirit Attacks are generally just additional moves that will rarely be used. Beginning the game with one Spirit Attack, exploring the large maps will allow you to gain more, although these remain to be extremely similar in power to the original Spirit Move in which you begin the game with.
Shortly into the game you meet a child thief, Dororo, whose gender remains a complete mystery throughout the course of the game. Despite the initial reactions between one another, Dororo ends up following Hyakkimaru on his quest. Whilst Dororo is by your side, you are able to give commands to Dororo to perform simple actions, such as attacking nearby enemies or searching for hidden objects within the vicinity. During battles, Dororo is capable of throwing rocks at enemies. Although this causes little damage, it often distracts the enemies from you, allowing you to attack and kill the creatures easier. Dororo also becomes a fully playable character occasionally, requiring you to perform short quests, such as using his/her thieving skills to infiltrate a suspicious house and discover its contents. These sections occasionally include platforming elements, which quickly become a frustrating chore when trying to guide Dororo through sharp spikes using the platform-unfriendly controls.
Through the course of your quest, you will encounter a large variety of different enemies, which can range from possessed warriors through to the imaginative spinning umbrella, which can actually cause quite a blow. The large variety of creatures, which gradually grow in difficulty the further you progress, helps to keep the sometimes-dull gameplay interesting. The Fiends are easily the most creative of all creatures, and can range from a small, hideous ogre through to a towering beast. It is commendable that developer Sega has managed to create such a wide variety of impressive boss designs, considering that there some forty-eight Fiends that reward you with body parts, whilst other lesser boss battles rewarding you with less-important items. Unfortunately, fighting the Fiends becomes a repetitive, boring task as the Fiends’ continuously repeat the same moves without any variation, resulting in the battle becoming an easy, predictable affair.
A bad camera can often ruin a game. Unfortunately, Blood Will Tell is plagued with often-severe camera problems. Although you are able to control the camera to a certain degree by tapping the L1 button to have it return behind you, numerous areas in the game prevents you from doing so. Considering that the camera is often placed in awful places during these areas, this quickly becomes an annoying problem. Even during the open parts of the level that allows you to slightly control the camera, the game often decides to whip the camera around jarringly, regardless of where you are trying to position the camera at that time.
Blood Will Tell’s graphics are rather basic, equal to an earlier generation Playstation 2 title who’s developers were still unsure of how much graphical power the system is capable of. The environment detail is minimal, as are the numerous basic enemies, spare the Fiends. In fact, the game very rarely gathers one’s attention visually, apart from the rare well-detailed cinematic (in particular the before-game movie). It is disappointing to say the least, but fits perfectly with the below average gameplay.
Sound effects are rather average, with the slashes of swords and thumping footsteps being very basic. Voice Acting, although sometimes dramatically overacted, is of good quality. The voice of the narrator in particular is worthy of a mention, offering a deep, unique voice that tells the unique and bizarre story of the game in excellent fashion.
Blood Will Tell is definitely a unique game in its own rights, providing a change from the usual Japanese samurai spree, requiring you to save a village or defeat an ultimate master. Hyakkimaru is one of the most unique characters that I have witnessed in some time. The game is rather slow for the first hour or two, which will likely lose the interest of many gamers. If you manage to stick by the game for some time, however, you will find that it is a solid title that offers a some decent gameplay, although plagued with numerous annoying problems that spoils an otherwise enjoyable experience. Blood Will Tell is only a decent title if you find Japanese myths and legends interesting.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.