Blood - much like its contemporaries, Shadow Warrior and Duke Nukem 3D - is a great first-person shooter from a time when such things were much more common than they have been in recent years. And much like those two other aforementioned Build Engine greats, Blood now has an official re-release, optimised and improved for modern hardware.
Blood sets itself apart from most other 90’s shooters by attempting to give its main character an actual serious backstory and consistent tone. As revealed in an opening cinematic (which admittedly, might be the worst animation ever made), the protagonist, Caleb, is a late-Nineteenth Century mercenary outlaw type who fell in with cultists serving an ancient demonic entity, who was subsequently betrayed, killed, and only brought back to life by his sheer rage-filled determination to avenge himself.
The level environments themselves all follow the pattern of being modelled after more-or-less ‘realistic’ locations, albeit filled with undead ghouls, gun-toting cultists, and references to slashers films and classic horror novels. It’s a departure from the wise-cracking antics of Duke Nukem or Lo Wang, but hearing Caleb cackle with glee as he run through these levels stabbing, shooting, burning, and exploding every nightmarish foe and unfortunate bystander is no less fun.
In true Build Engine fashion, Caleb can easily carry over a dozen weapons at a time, and while the usual stock standard types like a shotgun and a rapid-fire Tommy Gun are present, there is also a very large and varied arsenal of non-conventional weaponry that really adds an extra degree of enjoyability to the multitude of ways in which to dispatch enemies. There’s flare guns which set foes alight after a short delay, proximity-trigger TNT, and voodoo dolls that can be just as damaging to you as they are to the monsters you face.
Those enemies are all equally as varied and fitting, there’s re-animating zombies, hooded cultists that all scream viscerally as you mow them down by the thousands and some truly terrifying intangible scythe-wielding ghosts and flying jumpscare gargoyles. I would advise even newcomers to Blood to try starting on one of the harder difficulty settings however, as with your arsenal even these horrifying foes often melt away just a little too-easily, with them typically unable to move around as fast as you or intelligently use cover to their advantage.
If you’re either a returning Build Engine veteran or just a first-timer looking for a good shooter, this is certainly one of your better options. And if you’re looking for reasons to opt for Fresh Supply over an shareware or abandonware copy, this version does have official Steam Community and modding support, Achievements, and ideally, supporting efforts to bring good 90’s shooters to a modern audience will mean more quality ports and re-releases like this, which is an idea I can certainly get behind.