Blightbound from Devolver Digital is out now for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. A dark fantasy dungeon crawler with an emphasis on multiplayer gameplay, we tried it out on PlayStation.
The game was developed by Ronimo Games, who previously gave us Awesomenauts and the Swords and Soldiers games – all of them beloved indie titles. Expectations were high for Blightbound, also because it – at least in trailers – looked like the excellent Dragon’s Crown from Vanillaware in both gameplay design and art direction.
The game’s described as a dungeon crawler rather than an action RPG or beat ’em up though, so don’t go into it expecting something overly familiar. The setting is a similar kind of dark fantasy though, with echoes of some of the Games Workshop universes as well. A core reason why the world you’re in is so dark is the “Blight”, which bleeds from the body of a titan who once destroyed the sun and now spreads darkness across the land.
Although that titan was defeated a long time ago, his legacy of horrific creatures endures and you set out to fight them while freeing some of the trapped humans as you travel towards the darker regions of the world in search of better days. So far, it sounds like a fairly typical RPG-like plot, but the execution is different – and it’s also unlike what you’d expect from a “dungeon crawler”.
Sitting somewhere in between a game like Dragon’s Crown and a party-based RPG, Blightbound has you setting out with a team of three, always consisting of a warrior, an assassin and a mage. The three roles are well balanced, and they all have their role to play, making for some excellent multiplayer action as you defeat monsters and gather loot that helps you improve your characters over time as well.
This setup of three different roles per team works very well, although you’ll be joined by bots if you only have one or two players playing the game at once. While this isn’t a big deal because the bots will perform their core duties (like healing) when required, it becomes an issue then you have to cooperate on puzzles and the bot has no idea what you’re trying to do. The AI definitely needs some work here for people who aren’t (always) playing with two others – although having at least one human companion already alleviates a lot of the problems here.
More characters (fitting within the same three archetypes) can be unlocked over the course of the campaign, but besides different backstory they don’t change the core narrative in any way. In that sense, we completely get that this is labeled as a dungeon crawler and not an RPG, where we would have expected more narrative and character development. Instead, items can be combined and upgraded, and there are tons of options to do this – making experimenting fun as you try out the effects when you head back into a dungeon after visiting the local blacksmith and spending some of your other rewards in a friendly camp as well.
Blightbound received a patch for added stability just before launch, but still feels like it was let out of the gate just a few weeks too soon – although we experienced zero crashes post-patch. Judging from the incredibly fun and solid gameplay that you get when playing with a team of three, we have no doubt that Ronimo can patch this one up to be yet another beloved indie release from the team – and the score below would have been at least half a point higher had that happened before launch. Until then, this is full of potential, but can be frustrating when playing with the AI bots.