Review: Blightbound Is Best With Friends

Screenshot: Blightbound I’m a huge fan of cooperative multiplayer games. I love brawlers and action role-playing games, especially if you can play them with friends, either locally or online.  Blightbound looked like it had all the elements to make it a compelling game, but it ends up being a bit of a mess that, despite repeated attempts, I never found very fun. Blightbound is a side scrolling action role-playing game. In it, you take control of one of three hero archetypes, defeat enemies, collect loot, level up, etc. While you can play Blightbound single player, it has a forced multiplayer approach—with players being replaced by bots, so you can never truly play solo. The action takes place from a hub called “the Refuge” which increases in level when you find and recruit more heroes, get higher stats, better equipment, etc. While it all sounds like a potentially fun experience on paper, Blightbound contains some baffling design decisions that really make it hard to enjoy, though it does manage to have some good. Screenshot: Blightbound There are three possible character types you can play in Blightbound—a tanky melee fighter, a DPS heavy rogue character, and a magic wielding mage that also serves as the healer of the group. There are 20 potential characters you can rescue and unlock, with each one of them falling into one of these three archetypes. When you play with friends or bots you can’t mix and match these, either—you always have to have the three in configuration. If you don’t want to play with bots, and don’t have friends, there’s a matchmaking system—but trying to get into a game can take a while, as there doesn’t seem to be many active players as of this writing. Combat is okay—I was hoping for something closer to Castle Crashers, but Blightbound feels slower. I’ve played some pretty great sidescrolling brawlers recently, however, and Blightbound feels underwhelming mechanically. I just never found any of the class archetypes to be very fun. Each new character you save has different abilities, with some being more fun than others—but despite there technically being 20 characters there isn’t drastic variation within the three archetypes. Slow movement makes everything in Blightbound less fun, including its combat. But it’s not just he movement that makes combat slow—abilities and classes mostly feel underwhelming. There are a few specific characters I really enjoyed playing, but by the time I unlocked them I was already starting to feel burnt out on the whole experience. There isn’t that much enemy variation, either. It felt like I was fighting the same half dozen or so enemies throughout my entire playthrough of Blightbound. Screenshot: Blightbound Blightbound doesn’t just feature combat, there are some light puzzle sections. These don’t require much thought beyond finding a block to bring to a pressure plate. Sometimes these puzzles are incorporated into combat, and if your team isn’t coordinated enough, it can be a quick wipe. Another popular mechanic seems to be lasers, either emitted from powerful foes or by the environment. Again, Blightbound feels a bit sluggish, so having to avoid lasers and even enemy area of effect damage always felt like a chore. All in all, Blightbound is a hard one for me to write about. On the surface it seems like it would be the perfect game, but it never manages to be very fun. Loot is underwhelming. The fact that you have to play one of three archetpyes with characters that have little variation between them is also disappointing. But I just never got over how slow Blightbound feels to play—the combat never hooked me, and movement feels sluggish.  If you play with two other friends, Blightbound has potential to be fun, but it just wasn't something that hooked my group.   Blightbound is available now on Steam, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.       If you like the video game, tabletop, or other technology content that Third Coast Review has to offer, consider donating to our Patreon. We are the only publication in Chicago that regularly reviews video games, and we cover lots of local Chicago-based events and more. If you want to contribute to our coverage of Chicago’s video game scene (and more) please consider becoming a patron. Your support enables us to continue to provide this type of content. You can also catch us streaming games we’re reviewing and staff favorites on our Twitch channel.    
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Antal Bokor

Antal is video game advocate, retro game collector, and video game historian. He is also a small streamer, occasional podcast guest, and writer.