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Blood (video game)

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Developer(s)Monolith Productions
Nightdive Studios (remaster)
Director(s)Nick Newhard
Producer(s)Matt Saettler
  • Peter Freese
  • Nick Newhard
  • Dan Leeks
  • Matt Saettler
Artist(s)Kevin Kilstrom
Composer(s)Daniel Bernstein
Guy Whitmore
Kex Engine (remaster)
Platform(s)MS-DOS, Windows
  • NA: March 7, 1997 (Shareware)
  • NA: May 21, 1997 (Registered)
  • EU: June 20, 1997
  • NA: July 15, 1998 (One Unit Whole Blood)
  • WW: May 9, 2019 (Fresh Supply)
Genre(s)First-person shooter
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Blood is a 3D first-person shooter video game developed by Monolith Productions and published by GT Interactive and developed using Ken Silverman’s Build engine. The shareware version was released for MS-DOS on March 7, 1997,[1] while the full version was later released on May 21 in North America,[2] and June 20 in Europe.

The game follows the story of Caleb, an undead early 20th century gunslinger seeking revenge against the demon Tchernobog. It features a number of occult and horror themes. Blood includes large amounts of graphic violence, a large arsenal of weapons ranging from the standard to the bizarre, and numerous enemies and bosses.

Blood received largely positive reviews from critics upon its release, with many praising its creative level designs, the humor (particularly its use of pop-culture references), atmosphere and its gameplay, though some criticism was aimed at the game's challenging difficulty. It later gained a cult following and it is considered to be one of the best games on the Build engine.

The Blood franchise was continued with two official expansion packs titled Plasma Pak (developed by Monolith)[3] and Cryptic Passage (developed by Sunstorm Interactive). A sequel titled Blood II: The Chosen was released on November 25, 1998. The game was released on GOG.com along with its two expansion packs on April 22, 2010, utilizing the DOSBox emulator to run on modern systems.[4] It was released on Steam on July 14, 2014.[5] The game also served as the principal inspiration for the manhwa Priest.[6] A remaster of the game made to run better on modern systems entitled Blood: Fresh Supply was released on May 9, 2019, by Nightdive Studios and Atari.[7][8]


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.

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. Weapons include a flare gun, Voodoo doll, and an aerosol canister that can be used as a flamethrower.[9] It also features a power-up known as "Guns Akimbo", which allows the player to dual wield certain weapons temporarily. Blood also has "super secret" areas which contain rewards for discovering them.

Enemies include human members of the Cabal and creatures fighting for the demon Tchernobog. Enemies can use objects in the environment for cover.[9] The game also features a lesser class of enemies (bats, rats, eels, possessed hands, etc.) 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.[10]

The multiplayer modes consist of 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.


Blood takes place in an unspecified time period. The various levels contain elements from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, in addition to futuristic and retro-futuristic technologies and a weird West theme. Many elements are anachronistic, including weapons and pop-culture references. The sequel, Blood II: The Chosen, retroactively dates the game to the year 1928.

The backstory is not delineated in the game itself, only on the Monolith website and a readme text document. The player takes on the role of Caleb, once the supreme commander of a cult called "The Cabal", followers of the forgotten demon Tchernobog.[11] 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. Several years later, Caleb rises from his grave, seeking answers and vengeance.[11]

In search of the gargoyle Cheogh, one of Tchernobog's minions, Caleb moves to the rail yard and station, where he boards the northbound "Phantom Express". He fights off the undead which swarm the train, finally stopping the train by blowing up the locomotive. Emerging from the wreckage, cutting through swarms of Cabal loyalists and other creatures, Caleb enters the "Great Temple". A teleporter in the temple leads Caleb to Cheogh's altar, where he fights and slays the creature. Caleb finishes by lighting up Ophelia's funeral pyre to cremate her body.

The player confronts Cerberus (left) and Tchernobog.

Caleb heads to the Arctic north on a large icebound wooden sailing ship. He disembarks at a lumber mill the Cabal has transformed into a crude human remains processing area. He makes his way into a mine in search of the mother spider Shial's lair. Navigating the Cabal infested tunnels, Caleb finds a dark stony cavern where he defeats Shial, crushing her with a stomp of his boot. He then rips out and consumes the heart of the webbed corpse of Gabriel, another of the betrayed Chosen, thus gaining the power of his fallen comrade.

Cerberus is promoted to Tchernobog's second in command. Caleb moves across an industrial facility, entering a nearby dam control installation located near Cerberus' cavern, then blows up the dam with explosives. The resulting flood makes Cerberus' hideout accessible. Caleb kills Cerberus, and upon finding no trace of Ishmael, fills Cerberus' stomach with bundles of TNT, and blows up the corpse.

Caleb heads for the "Hall of the Epiphany" where Tchernobog is waiting. There, before facing him, Caleb learns why "The Chosen" were cast down: Tchernobog 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. Caleb battles and destroys the demon. One of Tchernobog's followers approaches Caleb and declares him their new leader. Caleb shoots him and leaves the Hall of Epiphany.

Expansion packs[edit]

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[edit]

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.

In the episode's new story, having heard news of an ancient scroll, Caleb sets out to retrieve it for his own dark needs.

Plasma Pak[edit]

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.[3]

Episode 5: Post Mortem

After Caleb learns the Cabal is training replacements for the fallen Chosen, he sets out to stop the cult's plans. Caleb moves into Cabal territory, wreaking havoc in a temple complex, then storming the inner temple. Satisfied the temples have been dealt with, Caleb enters the training ground for "The Chosen". In order to rest, Caleb destroys 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. It started development in 1995.[12] 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, all rights had been sold to Monolith[13] so that 3D Realms could focus efforts on Shadow Warrior, another Build engine game slated for release the same year. Ports for the PlayStation and Sega Saturn were planned but never completed [14]

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".

The Build engine was enhanced for Blood to allow new lighting effects, real-time shadows, and simulated "rooms above rooms".[15]

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 footballs, 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[edit]

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. GT Interactive was later acquired by Infogrames, which has since been renamed to Atari. Monolith itself was acquired by Warner Bros., which owns the Blood trademark and intellectual property.[16] Atari re-released Blood and Blood 2 on Steam and GOG, but unlike other Build engine games (Duke Nukem 3D and Shadow Warrior), the source code for Blood has not officially been released, however multiple incomplete versions of it exist online.[17]

Fresh Supply[edit]

Night Dive Studios was commissioned by Atari to create an enhanced version of Blood.[18] It was released on May 9, 2019, under the title Blood: Fresh Supply.[7][8] The new version featured compatibility with modern operating systems and native support for monitor resolutions up to 4K, anti-aliasing, ambient occlusion and interpolation among other improvements.[19][20]


Blood received "generally favorable" reviews from professional critics, according to review aggregator website Metacritic based on seven reviews.[21] Critics especially praised the intricate and creative level designs, humorous wisecracks and pop culture references, over-the-top gore, variety of settings, and inventive, unconventional weaponry.[22][23][24] GameSpot particularly noted that the Voodoo doll "might be the coolest little accessory to ever grace the weapons belt of a first-person killing machine".[22]

A few criticisms were voiced about the game, but did not find consensus among reviewers. For example, while GameSpot said the game "is just too damn hard", citing how quickly enemies can deal damage,[22] Next Generation asserted that "the game is lengthy without being too tedious, and challenging without being too difficult".[23] GamePro followed up its own criticisms by concluding: "Blood's flaws are easily swept aside when your guns start blasting and the bodies start falling".[24]

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".[26] Player Attack described Blood in a 2011 article as "the best of the Build engine games after Duke Nukem 3D, with its combination of scary atmosphere, great level design and challenging gameplay putting it above the rest".[27]

More than 350,000 copies of Blood have been downloaded.[28] This number reached one million in its first six months of release.[29]


The manhwa series Priest created by Hyung Min-woo was inspired by Blood. An interview with Hyung in Priest, Vol. 3: Requiem for the Damned states that the comic was influenced by the game, which featured a similar horror-Western aesthetic and undead protagonist.[30][31] The manhwa was adapted into the 2011 American horror film of the same name. The game has received numerous fan homages and remakes, including Transfusion, ZBlood, BloodCM, and The Flesh Game,[32][33][34] as well as community produced source ports such as BloodGDX, NBlood and Raze.[35][36][37] The game has also inspired several later boomer shooters[38] such as Eternal Damnation,[39] Viscerafest,[40][41] Dread Templar,[42] Coven,[43] Nightmare Reaper,[44] Project Warlock,[45][46] Dusk,[47] and most notably Cultic.[48] It was also influential on the roguelike game Infra Arcana.[49]

The 2014 horror film FPS - First Person Shooter features Stephan Weyte, the actor who played Caleb, as the voice of the protagonist.[50] The Heaven nor Hell urban fantasy trilogy by Clinton A. Love, as well as subsequent books within that universe features numerous Easter eggs that reference Blood, including cultists called Chosen and the "High Speech" used by demons and some vampires that contains phrases reminiscent of the ones the cultists scream in Blood.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hamrick, Lee (March 7, 1997). "Blood is out!". CNET Gamecenter. Archived from the original on August 24, 2000. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  2. ^ "More Blood". PC Gamer. May 21, 1997. Archived from the original on February 18, 1998. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  3. ^ a b [1], Plasma Pak article at GiantBomb.com
  4. ^ "New Release: One Unit Whole Blood". GOG.com.
  5. ^ "Blood: One Unit Whole Blood". Steam.
  6. ^ Getting to Know “Priest:” Manhwa Artist Min-Woo Hyung|Mud Mosh (July 21, 2011)
  7. ^ a b "Blood: Fresh Supply on GOG.com". www.gog.com. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  8. ^ a b "Blood: Fresh Supply™ on Steam". store.steampowered.com. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  9. ^ a b "Blood". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 91. Ziff Davis. February 1997. p. 52.
  10. ^ "History of Online Gaming - 1993-1994: DOOM and DWANGO". UGO. July 10, 2008. Archived from the original on October 14, 2012. Retrieved January 16, 2013.
  11. ^ a b Chalk, Andy (December 7, 2018). "1997 horror shooter Blood is coming back". PC Gamer. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  12. ^ "The Transfusion Project - the BloodSource campaign".
  13. ^ [2], Rights to Blood sold To Monolith
  14. ^ "Q Studios Upcoming Projects Blood". Archived from the original on September 13, 2016.
  15. ^ "NG Alphas: Blood". Next Generation. No. 27. Imagine Media. March 1997. p. 62.
  16. ^ "Monolith - Blood™". Lith.com. Archived from the original on June 17, 2012. Retrieved June 22, 2012.
  17. ^ Litchfield, Ted (January 5, 2023). "The Duke Nukem Forever leaker just dropped the source code for another beloved '90s FPS". PC Gamer. Retrieved March 23, 2023.
  18. ^ Campbell, Colin (December 7, 2018). "Blood set to return in remaster of gory '90s shooter". Polygon.
  19. ^ "Review: Blood: Fresh Supply". Destructoid. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  20. ^ Park, Morgan (May 9, 2019). "Blood: Fresh Supply is the second coming of a classic FPS, and it's out today". PC Gamer. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  21. ^ a b "Blood (1997) for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved March 18, 2023.
  22. ^ a b c d Poole, Stephen (June 6, 1997). "Blood Review". GameSpot. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  23. ^ a b c "Finals". Next Generation. No. 33. Imagine Media. September 1997. pp. 134, 136.
  24. ^ a b c Major Mike (July 1997). "PC GamePro Review: Blood". GamePro. No. 106. IDG. pp. 72–73.
  25. ^ Wildgoose, David (July 1997). "Blood". PC PowerPlay (14): 48–49.
  26. ^ Wilson, Hamish (June 23, 2015). "The Big Three Build Engine Games On GOG". GamingOnLinux. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
  27. ^ Keller, Matt (June 16, 2011). "The History of Duke Nukem – Part Four: Make it your way". Player Attack. Archived from the original on February 18, 2017. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
  28. ^ "Blood is Coming to HEAT.NET SegaSoft's Internet Game Network". segasoft.com. May 23, 1997. Archived from the original on June 19, 1997. Retrieved June 2, 2022.
  29. ^ "The Second Cut is the Deepest! GT Interactive Unleashes Highly Anticipated PC Game Sequel 'Blood II: The Chosen". Business Wire. December 3, 1998. Archived from the original on February 2, 1999. Retrieved July 16, 2022 – via Yahoo.com.
  30. ^ Min-Woo, Hyung (November 2002). Priest, Vol. 3: Requiem for the Damned. TokyoPop. ISBN 1-59182-010-3.
  31. ^ "Getting to Know "Priest:" Manhwa Artist Min-Woo Hyung". mudmosh.com. Archived from the original on August 25, 2017. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  32. ^ Von Kallenbach, Gareth (2003). "Devoted to the cause - Blood Transfusion to save aging game". Game Industry News. Archived from the original on April 8, 2003.
  33. ^ Bardin, Maxim (November 9, 2009). "I Live, Again..." Linux Gaming News. Retrieved February 19, 2023.
  34. ^ Sledge (April 7, 2017). "BloodCM – Blood v Eduke32". High Voltage. Retrieved March 23, 2023.
  35. ^ Alex Walker (May 22, 2017). "You Can Play The Original Blood Using Java Now". Kotaku. Retrieved August 15, 2020.
  36. ^ Liam Dawe (February 22, 2019). "NBlood, an open source port of the classic FPS 'Blood' using EDuke32". GamingOnLinux. Retrieved August 15, 2020.
  37. ^ Liam Dawe (February 6, 2020). "Raze - a new open source fork of EDuke32 backed by GZDoom tech". GamingOnLinux. Retrieved August 15, 2020.
  38. ^ Annand, Gavin (July 3, 2023). "Five Boomer Shooters and the Classics That Inspired Them". Super Jump Magazine. Retrieved May 14, 2024.
  39. ^ dopamine (January 19, 2005). "Eternal Damnation mod for Postal 2 - Zombies+Blood+Rudeness!". Transfusion. Retrieved May 14, 2024. Feel free to sign up at our forum if you have ideas or questions, and yes, there is a weapon in there inspired by Blood
  40. ^ Digre, Alexandria (2021). "Viscerafest Preview – Blood In Space". Bago Games. Retrieved May 13, 2024.
  41. ^ Ortiz, Justin (October 14, 2019). "Viscerafest Developer Interview". Console Monster. Retrieved May 13, 2024. A lot of the core design is meant to evoke the arena shooter genre established by titles such as Quake, Blood, and Duke 3d
  42. ^ "The Ultimate QuakeFest: Dread Templar". Nostalgia Nerd. August 14, 2021. Retrieved May 13, 2024. Another one is Blood, which I actually didn't like at all when I was a kid, even ranked it as one of my most hated FPS. But strangely enough, when I replayed Blood a few years ago I was totally hooked. Compared to other boomer shooters, Blood's level design is particularly fascinating to me, and DT is really inspired by Blood in level design.
  43. ^ Blaine, Lucas (October 2, 2022). "Why Retro Shooter & Horror Fans Will Love Coven". CBR.com. Retrieved May 14, 2024. Coven is a unique retro shooter that doesn't take its demonic inspiration from DOOM but from the dark fantasy worlds of Hexen and Blood.
  44. ^ Alexander, Marisa (May 12, 2023). "REVIEW: Nightmare Reaper". Operation Rainfall. Retrieved May 29, 2024. There are a whole slew of other influences as said on the developer's website for the game such as Blood and Rise of the Triad.
  45. ^ Cuzzucoli, Delano (April 26, 2017). "Project Warlock Is A Retro FPS That Harkens Back To Heretic And Blood". Hey Poor Player. Retrieved May 29, 2024.
  46. ^ Grodman, Jesse (May 24, 2020). "Project Warlock Is A Retro FPS That Channels Hexen and One Unit Whole Blood, Coming To Consoles Soon". DreadXP. Retrieved May 29, 2024.
  47. ^ Tarason, Dominic (September 10, 2017). "Dust off your sawn-off for a bloody Dusk, and a new dawn for Blood". PCGamesN. Retrieved May 13, 2024. While Dusk is mechanically most like Quake, it takes its thematic cues from Blood, Monolith's venerable 1997 Build engine FPS. Of the big three – Duke Nukem 3D, Blood, and Shadow Warrior – this is my favourite, and revenant cowboy Caleb is the most enduringly charming of the protagonists, not having to rely on stolen Bruce Campbell quotes or lazy racist caricature to shine. Plus, Caleb has a thing for classic showtunes. How can you not love that?
  48. ^ Johnson, Andy (October 30, 2022). "Review: Brilliant Cultic joins the top tier of retro shooters". Entertainium. Retrieved May 13, 2024. At first glance, Cultic seems sure to fall into this trap, given its evident similarities to Blood. In fact, Jason Smith's fantastic first project uses Monolith's 1997 game as a jumping-off point – and ultimately delivers one of the best retro shooters in years.
  49. ^ "Episode 22: Infra Arcana". Rougelike Radio. February 6, 2012. Retrieved May 14, 2024. I wish I would have jumped in on some of the topics a bit more though like room types, the Blood influences, explosives and flares, traps, some of the specific skills, disease, phobias, and why the weapons automatically tell you their bonuses.
  50. ^ Blacktooth (January 15, 2015). "FPS: First Person Shooter (Review)". Horror Society. Retrieved May 13, 2024.

External links[edit]