This crazy thing dropped a week ago and I interrupted Prince of Persia to play it. Blood Dragon is a strange thing, it’s basically a Far Cry 3 mod, but completely separate from and playable without the original game.
It’s soaked in the 80s, or — as it seems to this person who actually came of age then — a young person’s impression of the 80s. Generally they do a good job, but there are some elements that are unwittingly parodying other parodies.
You play Rex Power Colt, a cyber-warrior who has to defeat the evil Sloan and his Omega Force. Everything glows in eye-searing neon colors and is accompanied by either 80s-style “rock” or 80s-style keyboards (the music really made me want to listen to some Tangerine Dream or Vangelis.) Your character is a wisecracking badass who we should be glad is on our side, and the plot is a mishmash of 80s kitsch, with cyborgs, ninjas, dragons, and the ol’ Red Scare.
Blood Dragon is a hoot, even though a lot of its stuff is wasted on me. Not lost — I get the references — but I was one of the only kids growing up in the 80s who wasn’t into dumb action movies, ninjas, and heavy metal. I know the things the game is evoking, but they don’t have the nostalgic heft they may for other folks. Still, it’s a pretty good parody of both those things and video games (the opening tutorial is hilarious.)
That said, the game itself…I suggest you stay very close to the scripted path of the game. Sure, you can liberate garrisons and find collectibles and do side missions, and you’ll want to do some of this, but the further you get from the main storyline the more obvious it is that the game itself isn’t that good. It becomes boring and samey pretty quickly, and since your reward for completing missions and finding things is more powerful weapons, with no appreciable increase in enemy strength, it just gets easier and less challenging. I tried to do as many missions using stealth as I could just because that was more interesting to me, even though most of them I could just walk in and take whatever I wanted.
(The tutorial makes combat look a lot more complicated than it is, by the way. There are all these weirdo takedowns you can do but there’s no need to do most of them and the rest pretty much happen automatically through context.)
The majority of the game’s humor is in the main plot, and for that matter, in the long cutscenes. They’re funny — especially a particularly hilarious training montage/sex scene — but they’re also you not playing a game. In fact, the end of the game is via cutscene, and, even though I’m not a big fan of boss battles, I was scratching my head and thinking, “That’s it?”
The other elements of the game’s humor are kind of troubling. One of the things you can find and collect are VHS tapes which have descriptions sounding like 80s movie parodies. A lot of the jokes in these aren’t so much satire as just straight-up immature modern gamerbro stuff, featuring a nice scoop of “gay” jokes (one involving — ha! ha! — the hilarious concept of prison rape). Rex’s mutterings throughout the game are probably supposed to be over-the-top “badass” but I can easily see another game doing the exact same lines played completely straight.
There’s probably fifteen bucks worth of fun in Blood Dragon, but don’t forget you’re playing a jumped-up mod for a game and start expecting too much out of it. You’ll be disappointed.