Samurai games are big lately. Tenchu being the biggest but from the land of the rising sun we've seen a steady flow of Samurai and Ninja games from some of the industry's biggest publishers. SEGA is one of those and having picked up the latest Tenchu game they have shown their hand and will publish some very quality titles over the coming months. Blood Will Tell really for the most part is not one of them. While the action is fast and furious and it has some ok gameplay it just doesn't feel as polished as other titles.
Coming from a Manga anime background, Blood Will Tell tells the story of a young samurai abandoned at birth by his parents. As a result, many of his body parts were taken by enemies and an old man takes him in and gives him artificial parts to let him live. As the young man gets older he becomes more and more aggressive and his thirst for revenge leads him on the path to get his body parts back. This is where you come in, fight through multiple enemies, get the body parts back and finish the game.
It is played from a third person perspective and really defines the term hack and slash as that is really all you will be doing other than replenishing health and occasionally giving orders to people who join you on the journey. This part of the game is actually quite frustrating in that, if the other character dies then it's mission failed, and this does lead to a lot of babysitting, something which really can turn us off a game if the other characters are quite dumb. In this case it's not such an issue because the young girl who comes along does rather well at beating enemies so she is a help rather than a hindrance. There are times you actually control this character by herself as well in a attempt by the developers to include stealth.
As you progress through the levels you gain parts of your body back which add a unique touch to the game. For instance the game begins in black and white and looks incredibly bland. Once you get your proper eye back, colour comes back and the world is a lot more alive. You'll find your parts to increase your abilities despite the fact you start off with a fairly powerful arsenal of hand cannon, sword and leg cannon. It is a very interesting way to play the game but it is this uniqueness that does keep it from becoming very boring very quickly. There is also some RPG elements in that if you use one weapon significantly more than others, chances are you will be stuck with it as it will be super powerful, while the neglected ones remain at their original power.
The game is also very stylish in combat. You can do your typical hack and slash but once you learn how to master blocks and other moves, charging up the sword will lead to some spectacular action. Perhaps not on the level of something like Ninja Gaiden, but definitely something that is worth trying out. When an enemy is floundering, you can unleash a deadly strike that then allows you to put in a button combination quickly to finish them off - deadly when executed right and one of the most cinematic sequences of the game.
The biggest problem we have with the game is the repetitive nature. If you're someone that can play a game for hours and hours on end without getting bored then Blood Will Tell will probably offer a decent experience. The levels are quite repetitive in look and nature so you really have a struggle to keep interested for an extended period of time. The visuals of the game as mentioned before start off incredibly bland but become a bit of a visual feast later in the game. They are still closer to a PSX game than PS2 for most of the game but the action makes up for this.
Blood Will Tell is a moderately decent game that is overshadowed by much better Samurai games. The action is fast and furious but repetitive and really it adds up to only an average game. Sega can definitely do better.