[Beyond PlayStation] Alder’s Blood Review
Alder’s Blood from No Gravity Games and Shockwork Games is a tactical stealth game in which you take on the deadly creatures of darkness. Learn more in our Alder’s Blood review!
Alder’s Blood is a turn-based tactical stealth game in which the element of surprise is your biggest ally. Poland’s Shockwork Games took the game to Kickstarter in September 2019, and the project managed to reach its funding goal thanks to the support of more than 600 backers. The team has managed to also get a Nintendo Switch release for Alder’s Blood thanks to No Gravity Games, and it’s now time to review it! If you’re up for a challenging game in which every mistake will cost you greatly, then check this one out!
Once you start Alder’s Blood and get past the initial cutscene, you’ll be thrown into a short tutorial section that will allow you to learn all of the basics so that you’re not caught off-guard when your stealth tactics fail you during the main portion of the game. It’s here that you will learn about moving your characters and how you’ll only be able to do so within the standard movement range if you don’t want him to get tired. Go past the standard movement range, and you’ll end up using some of your stamina! You should make sure you move close to things that can hide you from your enemy’s sight – just be careful that you don’t end up making some unnecessary noise that could draw some unwanted attention!
You can use your ranged combat skill to attack enemies from a relatively safe distance. Once you’ve initiated ranged combat, you’ll see the available targets that are within your range. The good news is that thanks to the hunter’s special abilities, every shot your hunter takes in battle won’t ever miss its mark. The trade-off is that ranged weapons are extremely loud and will send out an audio blast radius that other enemies might end up picking on, thus drawing them to your location.
There are different creatures for you to face in battle, each with its own strengths and weaknesses you will need to take into consideration. Some might be able to see you from a distance, while others could have a very keen sense of smell that could end up giving away your position before you’re ready to strike. Always keep in mind the direction of the wind because your hunter’s scent will be carried by it, which is why you should try to stay downwind from your opponents. Stealth is a must if you aim to stay alive, so you’ll need to outsmart your opponents as you go in for the kill. Your enemies will be considerably stronger than you, so going into a fight without even a small advantage will be the death of you.
But what if you could distract an enemy’s attention as to clear a potential path for you to escape from within its range? You might want to throw a pebble so that an idle enemy turns around towards the sound made by the pebble when it lands on the ground. You’ll have an unlimited supply of pebbles, so make the most of them! Just be warned that enemies that have been alerted to your presence will not be distracted by the pebbles, so don’t waste your time throwing them around if you’ve made a mistake, and the enemy knows you’re nearby.
To survive when out on the field, a hunter always carries more than one weapon. For every mission you take on, you’ll have access to a large weapon, as well as to a sidearm. Your firearm might be too noisy for one particular spot on a stage, and for this, you might want to use a blade that is just as deadly but way quieter. The issue is that you’ll need to be in close proximity to an enemy so that you can draw your blade and deal any damage, which puts you in immediate danger as soon as you do. Your attacks will require you to use some of your stamina, so before you move closer towards an enemy, be sure to have enough stamina so that you can follow through with your plan!
Once again, stealth is a must in Alder’s Blood, which is why you must make an effort to get close to enemies while making sure they’re unaware of your presence. If you manage to pull it off, draw your melee weapon so that you can do a backstab. Backstabbing your opponent will deal considerable damage while also draining all of that enemy’s stamina, leaving them wide open for you to banish it. When an enemy is downed, you can banish it from the physical plane by using an old hunter’s ritual. The ritual will take its toll on your characters since it will require three tabs of stamina, which could leave him vulnerable if not planned right.
Once the game proper begins, you’ll be placed on the role of Chief, who leads a group of hunters on a journey. There are many things for you to consider during the main portion of the game, such as how working for the different factions in the game – House Ashmore, House Wright, House Blackwell, and House Moore – will help you accrue some loyalty, which will open the doors for that house’s shop to receive a nice upgrade that could include lowered prices on items, having items stocked in higher quantities, as well as a shop offering you the chance to purchase unique weapons or items that will have a great impact on your odds of survival.
Your party members can and will fall in battle when they lose all of their hit points. The good news is that they won’t immediately die after losing their last hit point. Instead, they will go into a state called Waning. What this means is that a party member is certainly not doing well, but it still has a chance of surviving. Bring another ally near it so that it can save the Waning hunter before the counter over its head runs out. Be careful after bringing a character back into action, because party members can only enter the Waning status twice in a mission, which means that if they lose all of their hit points for the third time, then they’ll drop and die.
You’ll be traveling from region to region on the trusty Hunter’s Caravan. To move from one area to the next, you’ll need to use some food. Food is a very important resource, and hunters will consume food every day, no matter what action – or lack thereof – takes place. If you don’t plan accordingly and run out of food, then your party members will begin to starve. For every day that your hunters don’t eat, the hit points of each member will be reduced at a slow and steady pace.
Your party members will gain experience points from their participation in the many missions you’ll complete, as well as from some special events you’ll run into every now and then. As expected, only the party members that actually participate in a mission will be the ones that benefit from that missions XP boost, but the experience points from special events will be applied to all of the hunters in your party, which is a nice way of the game making sure that now hunter is left behind. Once a hunter has obtained enough XP, it will level up. You’ll then be able to select from a set of five traits, from which you can pick one. Traits might end up boosting a hunter’s stats, adding a bonus resistance, or improving their performance while in camp roles.
Speaking off, let’s talk a bit about what campaign is all about. Your hunters can set up a camp in every region they visit, and it is while at a camp that your party will gain access to several activities. You can craft new items, scavenge for supplies, guard the camp to make sure that monsters don’t ambush you, or just have hunters rest up and recover after a long battle. You can assign different roles to the hunters in your party, but for changes to take effect, you’ll need to spend at least one extra day at the camp. Don’t forget that with each passing day, your hunters will end up eating some of the food in your stock!
Something I do have to complain about is how Alder’s Blood has some tiny text on Nintendo Switch – not all of its text, but every now and then, you will get a batch of text that is hard to read. This has become more of a problem over the last couple of years, as many games are created for PC and consoles without taking into consideration that we’re not sitting as close to the TV as we would if we were gaming on PC right in front of the monitor. The good news is that since the action in Alder’s Blood is not of the fast-paced variety, you can just press the Home button twice on your Joy-Con or Nintendo Switch Pro controller to zoom in on the screen to see what you are missing. Far from ideal, but at least there’s that option!
Alder’s Blood is a challenging and fun tactical stealth game with a supernatural twist that definitely reminded me of games like X-Com and some of its gameplay mechanics and Darkest Dungeon and its darker fantasy setting, challenging gameplay, and additional activities that your party members must perform while at camp in order to stay alive. Alder’s Blood is out on Nintendo Switch for $19.99, and it’s one I recommend you get for Nintendo’s console.
This Alder’s Blood review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by No Gravity Games.