Blood (video game)
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|Publisher(s)||GT Interactive Software
Atari, Inc. (digital)
Blood is a first-person shooter video game developed by Monolith Productions and published by GT Interactive Software. The shareware version was released for the PC on March 5, 1997, while the full version was released on May 31, 1997 in North America, and June 20, 1997 in Europe.
The game follows the story of Caleb, an undead early 20th century gunslinger seeking revenge against the dark god Tchernobog. It features a number of occult and horror themes. Blood includes liberal amounts of graphic violence, a large arsenal of weapons ranging from the standard to the bizarre, and numerous enemies and bosses.
The Blood franchise was continued with two official expansion packs titled Plasma Pak (developed by Monolith) and Cryptic Passage (developed by Sunstorm Interactive). Later, a sequel titled Blood II: The Chosen was released on October 31, 1998. The game was released on Steam along with its two expansion packs on July 14, 2014, utilizing the DOSBox emulator to run on modern systems. The game also served as a principle inspiration for the manhwa Priest.
- 1 Gameplay
- 2 Plot
- 3 Expansion packs
- 4 Development
- 5 Intellectual property ownership
- 6 Reception
- 7 References
- 8 External links
In single player mode, the player takes the role of Caleb in his quest for revenge against his former master by navigating levels in episodes, looking for an exit, until the "boss" level where the player must defeat a large opponent. The episodes are ordered to follow the game's storyline, though they can be played in any order.
Blood's gameplay is similar to other classic FPS games like Doom: the player must activate switches or seek keys to go through the levels; some larger maps contain up to six different keys. Features include teleporters, traps such as crushing blocks, explosive barrels, lava pits, jumping puzzles, and combination lock doors.
Blood is one of the earliest FPS games to feature alternate or secondary attack modes for its weapons; most weapons in Blood have two different modes, whereas weapons in previous FPS games usually had only a single type of attack. Blood also has "super secret" areas which are very hard to find or reach and contain large rewards for discovering them.
Weapons, artifacts, and bonus items appear in Blood. Firearms include a flare gun, sawed-off shotgun, and a Tommy gun, explosive weapons like dynamite and a napalm launcher, a shock rifle named after inventor Nikola Tesla, and several dark magic artifacts, including a Voodoo doll and, most uniquely, an aerosol canister that can be used as a flamethrower. It also features a power-up known as "Guns Akimbo", which allows the player to dual wield certain weapons.
The game features a large quantity of enemies throughout its levels and most of them are hostile, including human members of the Cabal and creatures fighting for the dark god Tchernobog. The most common of these enemies are various types of zombies, undead obese butchers that throw meat cleavers, and cultists with tommy guns and dynamite. There are more difficult enemies such as fire breathing hellhounds, gargoyles, giant spiders, and powerful sub-bosses. The game also features a lesser class of enemies (bats, rats, eels, possessed hands) often referred to as "nuisance enemies" that are not considered threats individually, but can be deadly in large numbers.
Blood, like many FPS games of the time, features multiplayer modes. When it was released, Internet play was not well established, so Blood used modem, LAN, or serial cable connections for multiplayer. Modem and serial cable connections only allow two player games, while an IPX network connection can support up to eight players. This can easily be achieved on a variety of platforms that support DOSBox and its IPX modes, coupled with VPN software such as Hamachi. Online multiplayer was also possible via the Total Entertainment Network and DWANGO.
The multiplayer modes consist of the classic deathmatch, known in Blood as "Bloodbath", and cooperative play. Bloodbath matches can be played on specifically designed multiplayer maps or on the levels of the various episodes; the "frag limit" or "time limit" options are available to end matches, as well as the possibility to control respawn mode for weapons and power-ups. A feature of Bloodbath is "The Voice", an audio comment heard upon each frag, that punctuates the death of an opponent often in gory and irreverent terms. "The Voice" is that of Jace Hall, who was CEO of Monolith Productions at the time.
Cooperative gameplay follows the lines of the single player campaign, allowing several players to work together in the levels of the different episodes.
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Blood takes place in an unspecified time period that often resembles WWI-Era (and prior) Europe and America, but most probably after 1918 as it features the Tommy Gun, only designed at that year. Caleb is a resurrected Wild West gunslinger or similar pulp fiction anti-hero, but the various levels contain elements from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, in addition to futuristic and retro-futuristic technologies (reference to Tesla) and a faint occult weird West theme. Many elements are deliberately anachronistic, including weapons, pop-culture references and other details. The game's sequel, Blood II: The Chosen, retroactively dates the game to the year 1928.
The game's protagonist is Caleb (voiced by Stephan Weyte), once the supreme commander of a cult called "The Cabal", worshippers of the forgotten god Tchernobog (voiced by Monolith CEO Jason Hall). Although the backstory was not delineated in the game itself, the Monolith website and a readme text document presented the few facts known about Caleb's early career.
Already known as a merciless gunfighter in the late 19th century American West, Caleb joined the Cabal in 1871 after meeting Ophelia Price, a woman whose husband and son may have been murdered by the members of the Cabal; it is implied that she later became Caleb's lover. Together they rose to the highest circle of the dark cult, "The Chosen", until all four members of The Chosen were betrayed and killed by Tchernobog for unspecified failures in the god's name. Several years later, Caleb mysteriously rises from his grave, declaring, "I live... again!", (one of many in-game quotes from Army of Darkness) seeking both answers and vengeance. He must lay waste to many occult enemies as he explores worlds through various Cabal strongholds and hellish pits, to find and end the dark god Tchernobog.
Dressed in a black trenchcoat and broad-brimmed hat, his eyes glowing red, Caleb immediately begins his quest, riddling Blood's world with bullets and dark humor. Caleb is a cynical, sarcastic, somewhat sadistic man, taking pleasure in killing almost anything that may impede his quest. Caleb has a slight attitude change between Blood and its sequel Blood II: The Chosen where he begins to show more tolerance for innocent bystanders.
Blood is organized in four episodes, each consisting of eight or nine levels ("maps"), categorized into six or seven regular levels, one "boss" level and a secret level. Some locations are drawn to resemble Twentieth Century cities, with civil buildings, museums, pubs, shopping centers and so on; a few levels are centered upon a particular location, like a mortuary, train station, carnival, sewer, hospital or lumber mill, and each is designed to include elements typical of these places (e.g. a crematorium in the mortuary, attractions at the carnival and so on). Maps built around moving vehicles are present as well; the third level is set aboard a moving train, for example. Several other levels have a typical Victorian or Edwardian architectural style and this is used especially in some atmospheric "haunted house" levels. Levels with a more "fantastic" setting abound in the last episode of Blood which takes place in several evil temples and even in a fully organic setting, whose walls, ceiling and floor are all composed of flesh and blood.
Episode 1: The Way of All Flesh
Caleb's adventure starts with him rising from his grave in a tomb located in a graveyard of the "Morningside Mortuary" funeral home (a reference to the film, Phantasm) stating, "I live...again," (a reference to the film, Army of Darkness). In a secret area of the graveyard, is an open grave with the name "Draven" and a picture of a crow on the headstone (a reference to the film, The Crow). In search of the first of Tchernobog's minions, the gargoyle Cheogh, the protagonist moves to the railyard and station known as "Miskatonic Station" (a reference to the fiction of H. P. Lovecraft: as is the Episode 2 title), where he boards the northbound "Phantom Express". Once aboard the train, Caleb fights his way from the locomotive to the caboose and back, finally stopping the train by blowing up the locomotive. Among the wreckage of the "Phantom Express" in the following level, the player can find a prison uniform; which has the name "Kimble" on it (a reference to the film, The Fugitive). Emerging from the wreckage, he proceeds through a "Dark Carnival" with several Cabal-controlled attractions (including a walking hand and vocal cue referencing the Evil Dead series), including a grotesque "House of Horrors" which is featured as the episode's secret level. A water pool in the carnival area is then used by Caleb as a shortcut to reach one of the Cabal strongholds (a deconsecrated cathedral) where a droning message in the Cabal's language echoes throughout the grounds. Cutting through swarms of Cabal loyalists and other creatures, Caleb gains entrance to the "Great Temple", a place protected by numerous underwater tunnels as well as several napalm traps and Cabal minions. A teleporter found in the Temple leads the protagonist to Cheogh's altar, where Caleb will fight the gargoyle to the death, finally slaying the creature. Caleb finishes by lighting up Ophelia's funeral pyre to cremate her body, then after he approaches the slain Cheogh, points his shotgun at the creature's head and blows away the gargoyle's brains with a well-placed shotgun blast.
Episode 2: Even Death May Die
Looking for Shial, the second minion of Tchernobog, Caleb moves to the north on a small boat, uttering a famous quote from the movie Jaws. The player character boards a larger, icebound wooden sailing ship in the Arctic north (a reference to the novel, Frankenstein) and uses it as a gateway to a nearby lumber mill the Cabal has transformed into a crude human remains processing area. Then a snow-covered maze of hedges awaits Caleb, as he needs to find his way to the "Overlooked Hotel", a haunted building with several nods to The Shining, including a frozen Jack Torrance in the garden maze, stating: "Heeeee's Johnny". Recovering a set of mysterious tomes, Caleb may also find time to visit a snow-covered mountainous area (the episode's secret level), filled with Cabalists and other even less reassuring creatures, before proceeding to another haunted building, a large two-story mansion with many rooms, a kitchen, gardens, a library, a cellar and even an indoor pool. Blowing a hole in the pool itself, Caleb follows an underwater passage leading to a facility that probably served as a support station for the operations of a nearby mine. The mine is the protagonist's true objective, since Shial's lair is hidden below the frozen surface, under the bowels of the earth; navigating the Cabal infested tunnels, Caleb finally finds a large spider decorated door leading to the hideout of Shial, a dark stony cavern where the spiders feast upon the rotting corpses of their victims. In a climactic battle, Caleb defeats Shial, crushing her with a powerful stomp of his boot, then proceeds to rip out and drink the heart blood from the nearly-dead, cocooned corpse of Gabriel, another of the betrayed Chosen, thus gaining the power of his fallen comrade.
Episode 3: Farewell to Arms
Back in a civilized area, Caleb has a new objective: Cerberus (resembling Orthrus), now Tchernobog's second in command, must be eliminated. The first section of the episode consists of a town that has fallen under heavy airborne bombing; few still live in the place, aside from the Cabal and its minions. Leaving behind the meat processing plant and the city hall, Caleb enters the sewers to reach the other side of the war battered city. Emerging to the surface, the entrance of a hospital lies ahead: the interior contains patient rooms, a chapel, a morgue, an "assisted suicide" room and a baby carriage with a demonic hand sticking out of it as a tribute to It's Alive!. From the chapel, access to the catacombs (secret level) can also be gained. Once out of the hospital, the protagonist moves across an industrial facility, entering a nearby dam control installation located close to Cerberus' cavern. Caleb struggles his way through a difficult "combo lock" puzzle, then blows up the dam with explosives. The resulting flooding makes it possible to access the demon's fiery hideout. Several seals, guarded by Hellhounds, must be unlocked before Cerberus makes his furious appearance from behind the stone walls. The two-headed beast does not prove a match for Caleb, who then fills the creature's stomach with many remote-controlled bundles of TNT and blows up the corpse, causing it to rain red over Caleb.
Episode 4: Dead Reckoning
Caleb heads for the "Hall of the Epiphany" where the dark god is waiting. The first step is to cross a strange land with a mad-scientist laboratory and a theme reminiscent of Frankenstein. He subsequently dives into an aquatic breeding laboratory, presumably one of the main locations where the gill beasts are grown by the Cabal. Later, bursting out of a water cistern, Caleb finds a charnel house, where Freddy Krueger's hat and sweater can be found on the wall, serving as a disposal site for dead creatures. The place has a nearby passage leading to a forested area with wood cabins arrayed around "Crystal Lake" (a reference to the Friday the 13th series of films). As Caleb roams the area, he may even discover Jason Voorhees' goalie mask and machete hanging on one of the walls. The exit from the area is reached through a toilet: here the player can move immediately to a Cabal temple located well above the surface of a lava filled area or take a visit to the "Mall of the Dead", a shopping center acting as a homage to the film Dawn of the Dead, with similar looping "elevator music" and zombies. Caleb then gains access to the inner temples defended by Stone Gargoyles and Mother Spiders (similar to the Cheogh and Shial bosses), until he finally uncovers an organic looking entryway to reach his former master; this passage leads to the level "In The Flesh", in which the walls, ceiling and floor are all made of living flesh. Caleb's stray bullets pound this wretched structure, causing the very walls themselves to bleed. Once out of this strange, horrible place, the protagonist ultimately reaches the "Hall of the Epiphany", an otherworldly temple where he must once again face the previous bosses - Cheogh, Shial and Cerberus - before battling the terrifying dark god Tchernobog himself. There, before facing him, Caleb finally learns why "The Chosen" were cast down: the dark god knew Caleb would return to him, killing anyone he ran into to take his revenge and thus gaining immense power, something Tchernobog wants for himself. As Caleb approaches the final showdown, Tchernobog's voice echoes and reverberates around him, "I HAVE AWAITED YOU. KNEEL BEFORE ME," to which Caleb replies "I'm gonna have to put you down!" Caleb battles and destroys the dark god, ending his reign and temporarily stopping the Cabal. At the ending full motion video, one of the civilians, who worshiped Tchernobog, approaches Caleb and thanks him for liberation - in a worshiping manner. For this, Caleb immediately kills him with his Tommy Gun before finally leaving the Hall of Epiphany.
The first episode of Blood was released as shareware. The full retail version of Blood was released on a CD-ROM, featuring all four original episodes and all of the elements that were missing in the shareware version. The extremely violent content of the game later prompted the release of a censored version of Blood with toned-down violence. Two official expansions were released for the game: Cryptic Passage was developed by Sunstorm Interactive and features a new 10 level episode for single player and four new multiplayer levels; Monolith's official add-on for Blood is called the Plasma Pak and contains 11 new levels, new enemies, and weapons modes. A special edition collection titled One Unit Whole Blood was released on July 15, 1998, including the fully patched versions of Blood, Cryptic Passage, and the Plasma Pak, as well as the Blood: Unlock the Secrets guide in a single package. Strategy guides for the game were also published, namely Blood: The Official Strategy Guide and Blood: Unlock the Secrets.
Cryptic Passage was published by Sunstorm Interactive and is the only officially authorized commercially available add-on for Blood that was not created by Monolith. It was released on June 30, 1997, and contains 10 new single player levels and four new multiplayer Bloodbath levels.
Episode 5: Cryptic Passage
Having heard news of an ancient scroll, Caleb sets out to retrieve it for his own dark needs. He arrives on the Boat Docks, which later open onto a large cave, a cabin and a lighthouse, structures overrun by the Cabal. Ahead, a large opera house is found, built in the tradition of the late 1920s-early 1930s, where apparently The Phantom of the Opera (called "The Phantasm of the Opera" in the game) is being shown. Without losing any time with the opera, Caleb moves to the Gothic Library, located in the midst of surrounding forests: there he barely escapes the minions of the Cabal after recovering all the keys required to leave the place. However Caleb does not have time to rest, since strange rituals are taking place in and around the monastery: the protagonist must end them in the most violent and chaotic manner he can muster. A steamboat serves as an escape from the monastery, but it does not prove to be a gentle ride as the Cabal owns the ship. Finally reaching a quieter zone, Caleb finds himself at a graveyard whose relatively empty surface hides the crowded underground catacombs and tunnels. A passage may be taken by Caleb to reach a gloomy swamp (the secret level "Boggy Creek"), riding along the river on a boat where the Grim Reaper is the captain. Back on his path, the adventure takes the player character to the mountains this time, where both gorges and ghosts must be survived. The Cultists hide behind every stone as Caleb makes his way across the cliffs to the mine, a dark place infested with phantasms, which is the only access to the castle where the scroll is hidden. When Caleb climbs the stairs into the castle, he is greeted by "The Lord of All Nightmares", who proves to be nothing less than two guardian Cerberi. Between Caleb and the coveted scroll now lies a final battle between Beast and Man.
Released in September 1997, the Plasma Pak expansion adds several new features to Blood; a new episode with nine single player levels titled "Post Mortem" is included, along with two new multiplayer Bloodbath levels, one of which was modeled after Monolith's corporate offices, for a total of 11 levels. New enemies are included in the Plasma Pak, and all of them are featured in the extra episode; the new creatures include two new Cabal loyalist types, Chrysallid pods, miniature Calebs, and a new boss, the Beast. There are no new weapons added to Caleb's arsenal, though some new weapon abilities are introduced; the Tesla Cannon can now be wielded akimbo (provided the appropriate power-up is collected), while the Napalm Cannon and Life Leech have new secondary attacks. The Plasma Pak also integrated a large number of bug fixes which had been previously addressed by several patches.
Episode 6: Post Mortem
After Caleb has learned the Cabal is training replacements for the fallen Chosen, he sets out to stop the cult's plans. The player character starts his new adventure beside a department store overtaken by several Cabal members; clearing a way through his enemies, Caleb enters another shopping center which is connected to a processing facility of sorts and keeps investigating in his own fashion the recent Cabal uprisings. Next, the protagonist is lured to an ambush in a warehouse fully under the control of the Cabal, however, using the aeration conduits, he is able to outflank his enemies and proceed to the aqueducts of the city. A Cabal ship is docked nearby, but Caleb does not waste time and sinks the vessel; he also has the chance to visit some forgotten Catacombs while at the aqueducts. Later, he moves into Cabal territory, wreaking havoc in a temple complex, then ruining the cult's plans once more by storming the inner temple, where the Cabal are preparing some kind of unearthly ceremony to worship their dark god. Satisfied the temples have been dealt with, Caleb enters the dungeon, a dark, creepy structure built to stop anyone trying to reach the training ground for "The Chosen". A set of locked doors blocks the exit and Caleb is forced to wander across different areas to gather all the required keys, but in the end he reaches the grounds where the final threat awaits. In order to rest, Caleb must destroy each of the four "Chosen" in training and the Beasts within them.
Development began at Q Studios, an independent developer funded by 3D Realms, in parallel with a number of other well-known titles. Following the success of Duke Nukem 3D, development progress was made public starting in June 1996 with weekly updates on their website. It was originally scheduled for release in early 1997. Q Studios was acquired by Monolith in November 1996. On January 22, 1997, a press release announced that all rights had been sold to Monolith so that 3D Realms could focus efforts on Shadow Warrior, another Build engine game slated for release the same year.
Blood was one of two games (the other being Shadow Warrior) that took advantage of the Build engine's support for voxel objects in the game world. Blood used this for weapon and ammo pickups, power-ups, and occasionally decorations, such as the tombstones in the first level of episode one, "Cradle to Grave".
A central feature of Blood is an abundant (and often exaggerated) graphic violence, from which the game derives its name. Enemies can be blown to pieces, and the pieces often rain down on the player. Zombies' heads can be shot off and then kicked around like soccer balls, spewing fountains of blood. Enemies scream if set on fire or are otherwise injured, making sound an integral part of the violent atmosphere of Blood. The levels themselves are designed with the same spirit, as corpses, torture victims, and several grotesque situations are witnessed in the game. Collectively, these features caused some public concern about Blood, leading to a censored re-release of the game.
Intellectual property ownership
3D Realms sold Monolith the intellectual property (IP) so 3D Realms could make Shadow Warrior. Monolith sold the publishing rights, but not the IP for Blood and its sequel to GT Interactive. GTI was later acquired by Infogrames, which has since been renamed to Atari. Monolith itself was acquired by Warner Bros. Entertainment, which owns the Blood trademark and intellectual property. Atari re-released Blood and Blood 2 on Steam and GOG, but has not released the source code.
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GamingOnLinux reviewer Hamish Paul Wilson decided in a 2015 retrospective that Blood was easily the best of the three major Build engine games, stating that Blood was "one of the most underrated shooters of the whole decade. Blood arguably built more on the legacy of Duke Nukem 3D than Shadow Warrior did, taking its gameplay to sophisticated new heights and offering its referential overtones with an even greater degree of refinement."
- , Plasma Pak article at GiantBomb.com
- "Blood: One Unit Whole Blood". Steam.
- "History of Online Gaming - 1993-1994: DOOM and DWANGO". UGO. July 10, 2008. Retrieved January 16, 2013.
- Stephan Weyte at the Internet Movie Database[unreliable source?]
- , Rights to Blood sold To Monolith
- "Monolith - Blood™". Lith.com. Retrieved June 22, 2012.
- Wilson, Hamish (June 23, 2015). "The Big Three Build Engine Games On GOG". GamingOnLinux. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
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