May 23, 2022

BLOODSHORE – Xbox Series X Review

Big Brother Meets PUBG! Is It Any Good?

Have you ever wondered what happens when a bunch of fame-hungry live streamers and Z-list celebs go on a battle royale-style reality TV show? Well, now you don’t have to wonder as Wales Interactive, Good Gate Media and Wayout Pictures have created BLOODSHORE, an FMV (Full Motion Video) game where your choices influence who lives and who dies. Spoiler-free review.

For full transparency, the publishers provided a copy of this game for the purpose of review.

BLOODSHORE is an interactive movie where you take control of washed-up actor, Nick. Nick’s career has taken a nosedive; he has grown out of the teen-heartthrob roles that made him a household name. Pitted against streamers, content creators, celebrities, and death row inmates, your job is to make Nick’s decisions and keep him alive. You accomplish this by forming alliances, romances or even go lone wolf if you want to go alone. All that matters is that you have to be the last man alive and win the life-changing cash prize.

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BLOODSHORE is more of a movie with a branching narrative than an FMV game. It’s more akin to 2016’s Late Shift than more recent FMV games like Erica. You’re making decisions and guiding the story rather than puzzle-solving or interacting with environments.

Most decisions consist of an “A or B” decision; “do you go team up with the arrogant Otto or the beautiful Tish?” for instance. With 294 different possible scenes and over eight hours of FMV footage captured, it’s a game with more than a couple of possible outcomes. I’ve played through BLOODSHORE three times while writing this review with a differing story and outcome each time.

The game’s in-universe TV show that Nick has signed up for is called Kill/Stream, currently in its 13th season. With a cash prize of $10,000,000 to the winner, Nick’s opponents are not only playing a game of life or death but are trying to change their lives. If they survive.

The acting in BLOODSHORE is good. It’s cheesy where it needs to be but not annoying or ever taking you out of the experience. There’s a good contrast between the deadly game you are playing and the almost Running Man-esque world outside with over-the-top TV presenters, bloodthirsty viewers, and everything. Everyone’s performances are good especially James Palmer and Lois Amber Toole‘s portrayals of your protagonist Nick and the charismatic Tish, respectively.

The only character I had an issue with is Dev who, for all intents and purposes, is your antagonist. Dev’s character is the only thing close to a weak link in the group. I found that Andy Anson actually didn’t do a great job in his performance. This was a shame as it somewhat affected some of the more intense scenes in the game. It can’t be all blamed on the actor though; his character doesn’t get incredibly well-fleshed out. This causes you to not really see him as much of a threat. This does become a bit of a drain on enjoyment with a lot of the scenes he’s in and BLOODSHORE‘s biggest of its few missteps.

There’s a varied cast of characters within BLOODSHORE‘s, from conspiracy theorists, MMA fighters, actors, and a guy who ate one of the Royal family. I’m not even joking.

They do a good job of balancing the cheese and drama with the tone of the game. It feels like a video game and revels in the absurdity of its situation which sets it up nicely.

The game plays out by putting Nick in a barrage of life or death situations. It also keeps a fast pace throughout its 90-minute run time. The game flicks the narrative between Nick’s story and snippets of the outside world. These are done via montages of news reports and political interviews. The interviews discuss the public’s reaction to the contestant’s decisions. They also look at the moral bankruptcy of society endorsing what is essentially a snuff TV show. It also hints that there may be some darker secrets behind the titular tv shows production.

BLOODSHORE focuses the story around Nick and a select group of contestants as they approach “The Island”. It keeps the story honed in on this small group as the Kill/Stream show plays out. Every decision you make has the potential to see you run into the many other groups of survivors dropping onto the island. And, as people die and numbers deplete, people start to turn on each other. Trust becomes something you will be constantly questioning.

As you play, you have stats to manage. These will make or break alliances or even influence how certain decisions play out. Balancing your team’s morale against audience opinion and Nick’s strength against a potential romance becomes a tight-rope walk of potential missteps and betrayals. Not every decision you make will be black and white in its outcome, just like in life.

As with all FMV games, the importance of player agency is paramount. If the player’s decisions aren’t affecting the game’s narrative, then you may as well be watching a movie. Players will definitely be engrossed in Nick’s journey thanks to BLOODSHORE‘s use of stat tracking and constant feedback on your decisions.

The addition of an option to pause decisions to cater for live streams of the game is a welcome option as BLOODSHORE feels perfectly suited for live streaming. I can’t wait to stream it for you guys myself over on the ABG Twitch page.

The lighting in BLOODSHORE is beautiful. The Island’s environments are gorgeous. It’s clear that a lot of the game’s budget has been spent on filming on-location, as well as the selection of good actors/actresses. I was impressed by how visceral and convincing some of the gore effects were, which I wasn’t really expecting. It’s not a triple-A game by any means but they have mostly used their budget well and focused on what sells the characters, story, and setting. It does, however, understandably fall short when it comes to explosions that look comically video-gamey; one, in particular, looked pretty bad but you’re straight into the action afterwards and living with Nick’s decisions.

Digital explosions aside, BLOODSHORE is a highly enjoyable FMV game with a small cast of mostly well-acted characters. Its 90-minute playtime and branching narrative encourages multiple playthroughs to experiment with different stories and outcomes. It’s definitely up there with Erica as one of the most enjoyable FMV games on the market and current generation gaming hardware.


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BLOODSHORE - Xbox Series X Review
  • 7.5/10
    Overall - 7.5/10
7.5/10

Summary

BLOODSHORE is a competent and entertaining FMV game that has more hits than misses.

Pros

+ Cast of mostly good characters

+ Decisions that actually feel like they matter

+ A few great practical gore effects

+ Doesn’t take it’s self too seriously but doesn’t become overly silly

+ Good protagonist

+ Competent stat tracking

+ The option to pause decisions for live streaming

 

Cons

– Poor antagonist in Dev

– Some sketchy effects when it comes to explosions and digital effects

 

 

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