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When Sachys gifted me the game (thanks again!) he asked for my opinion on it. I thought instead of writing him a PM it is probably better to write a short review that everyone can read. But since the review system on GOG is rather limited I thought I'd drop it into the forum. So after I had some time to play in the weekend I feel competent enough to comment on it.

I'm sad to say that the game is actually quite bad. It has a lot of original ideas and concepts but that is also one of the main problems of the game.

The developers were overly ambitious and tried to make a game that was everything to everybody (an RPG/Adventure with tactical combat about Vampires and Cyberspace) and failed because they didn't have enough resources or time to polish and balance all the parts properly and fit them together in a way that feels right. In the end all the parts felt like they had been tacked on as an afterthought without proper game design. It feels like someone took the ingredients of a great three-course meal but instead of properly preparing the meal mixed all of the ingredients together in a blender.

The RPG elements: A lot of stats seem to be pretty meaningless and on top of that the balance is completely broken. Even when you completely concentrate on one area (for example Mercenary) in the character creation you will end up with stats in the 70s for your area of expertise and single digits or 10s for your worst stats. I could live with that because it sounds plausible. However, everyone you hire (and probably your enemies, too) have lots of stats in the 90s, some in the 80s, with their worst stats in the 50s. And don't forget to equip stuff on the people you hire! Obviously everyone runs around naked with their weapons and clothes in their backpack when you hire them.

The Adventure elements: There are hardly any classical adventure elements in the game. Items consist mostly of stuff used to assemble into makeshift weapons and armour. Or ingredients for mixing up stat enhancing drugs. Or items that NPCs ask for in exchange for other items you might need, information or money. So there is hardly any item using or combining. However, there are many NPCs in the game and a lot of them offer valuable information or side quests if you talk to them.

Cyberspace: This just consists of you floating around a screen which looks like a nebular in space to collect information from so called wells (data clusters) which you need.

The tactical combat: This is actually the worst part of the game. First you have to place your characters on the screen without being able to see where they can stand and where they can't. You just have to use trial and error until you were able to place everyone. It takes 6 mouse clicks to order a normal attack which sums up to 36 mouse clicks for all of your characters for one combat round. I'm sure you can see why the quick combat option (which I usually never use in games) suddenly sounds alluring. In theory your characters have enough hitpoints to survive a while but in practice the hitpoints are spread over your body parts. If the head or the main body reach 0 that character dies. And that can happen with 1-2 shots. If your main character dies you get an instant game over.

Add to that the most horrible user interface in the history of computer games and you know what Bloodnet is like. I've been an avid gamer for around 30 years now and I have seen my fair share of clunky user interfaces but this game really takes the cake.

For example, to examine an item you have to click the following: First press any number from 1-6 to view that character's character sheet then click on the 'Inventory' button. (BTW, this is only explained in the manual and there seems to be no way to get to the inventory screen by using the mouse only.) Then you get an overview of all your characters inventories but since everyone can carry 20 items and there is only so much place on a low res screen you can see only 4 items for every character and have to scroll through their inventory 4 items at a time by clicking an arrow several times. So if you don't remember who has the item and it is in the back of the last characters inventory you need 24 mouse clicks to find it in the worst case. So the average case for finding the item is 12 mouse clicks. Then you need 2 more mouseclicks to examine it. So all together: The average user input for examining an item is one keypress plus 15 mouse clicks. And if you've read the above paragraph about the combat system you know that other parts of the game have a similar user interface.

The many side quests which I already mentioned invite the player to explore and talk to many NPCs spread over many different locations. While this may sound good in theory the game discourages you from doing so heavily. Traveling between places uses up in-game time which raises your bloodlust. If you let your bloodlust go to high, you die. -> Game over. To lower it you have to drink blood from someone. But that lowers your humanity. If your humanity drops too low -> Game over. And if that wasn't enough to discourage you from wasting time: When you drink from someone that person dies. If you drink from the wrong person (one that is important for the main quest) you render your game unwinnable without even knowing. The same is true if you drop or sell an item that is important.

The only saving grace for Bloodnet is the story and the character interaction. Talking to NPCs to piece together information for finding a cure to your vampirism or having your party members comment your actions (even though that doesn't happen too often) and the dystopic flair of the city are done very well. But in my opinion that is not enough to overcome the many problems of the game and make it worth playing. If you still want to play the game because you play absolutely everything with vampires or cyberspace (or for whatever reason) then I can only recommend you to use many different savegames. Then you don't have to restart from square one if you realize you can't win anymore.

For everybody else I simply recommend playing something else. If you like Adventure/RPGs go for the Quest for Glory Series. Or if you also like horror in your games get the two Elvira games and Waxworks. If it has to be vampires I can also recommend Veil of Darkness. And of course the two Vampire the Masquerade games Redemption and Bloodlines even though they are not Adventures.

All of these games showed that you get far superior games by concentrating on a hand full of core concepts and make them fit together well instead of trying to include too much which is almost always a surefire way to failure. Bloodnet sadly only serves as an example of a game that sounds good in concept but is marred by terrible execution.