It is frustrating that some classic games can easily fade into the past. Old PC games often refuse to run on current computers because of compatibility issues. Troubleshooting ranges from easy online fixes to hours of hard work. Fan communities are a godsend for creating fixes, patches, and source ports for the games they adore. With these, gamers can play old PC titles despite troublesome issues. Sometimes, though, it’s convenient and exciting when a professional studio releases a polished version with bells and whistles. Nightdive Studios has done just that by revitalizing Monolith’s classic 1997 first-person shooter Blood with Blood: Fresh Supply.
If you've never played the original Blood, know that it is an excellent first-person shooter. The movement and animation are exquisite. Part of this comes from the uniqueness of the weapons. Shooting flares and seeing enemies catch on fire is more involved than popping them with a pistol. One of my favorite animations is the flick of the lighter when you pull out the dynamite or aerosol can. Standard weapons like the shotgun or napalm launcher (essentially a rocket launcher) also have a quickness to their animation that makes them satisfying to use.
Blood's level design is top notch. Two of my favorites, Overlooked Hotel and The Haunting, feature a complex yet navigatable layout that ensures you don't get stuck or lost. There are key-hunts, but they never drove me mad. Progressing through Blood's maps carries with it a balance between challenge and flow.
The soundtrack, whether you prefer the MIDI or CD music, sets an effective complementary tone. I first played Blood with CD music and used to prefer it. The track Unholy Voices carries with it a sorrow that you don't feel from the MIDI version. However, Fresh Supply allows you to switch between the two soundtrack versions. Listening to the MIDI version, I've come to like it as well. In the case of the Dark Carnival track, I prefer MIDI music. It's more difficult to pick a favorite the more I listen to each, so I just switch between the two.
The cast of enemies is wonderfully entertaining. I've loved encountering new monsters in Blood perhaps more than any other FPS game. The crazed cultists lead them all: I can't get enough of their nonsensical yells. Classic monsters like gargoyles, fish-beasts, phantoms or disembodied hands add to the game’s horror flavor. What all these enemies have to do with each other beyond worshipping Tchernobog, I don't know, but they're fun to encounter and combat.
As enjoyable as Blood is, you have to give it time as it's hard. Even on the medium difficulty, called Lightly Broiled, the early levels can be unusually challenging. The second map, Wrong Side of the Tracks, has a stretch with several enemies and little health pickups that may cause new players to give up. If you keep trying or select Pink on the Inside difficulty, you will likely get a feel for the game somewhere in the middle of the first episode. Once you do, you can’t stop playing. You’ll be glad you pressed on.
A welcome feature in Fresh Supply is a difficulty mode called Made to Order. Within this, you can customize the damage enemies inflict, their aggression levels, and more. This may be the route to go for people like me who master Lightly Broiled but can’t quite make the Well Done cut, and is also a plus for owning Fresh Supply.
Be warned, also: Blood is gruesome. Heads, eyes, and hands will fly upwards as you blow enemies apart. Flesh melts away to the skeleton underneath as you set cultists on fire. Gibs splat. As vengeance-seeking Caleb, you’ll be bringing the pain.
A Dark and Cruel World
Grisly sights will greet you throughout macabre levels. The Lumberyard and the secret level called House of Horrors are especially revolting. Dark humor is here, as well: the Phantom Express map begins with the train running over not just one, but three people. This comes before the delightful Dark Carnival, where you can murder innocent mimes if you wish. Yes, civilians run amongst the enemies. It’s quite shocking to open a room and encounter cultists as they murder the defenseless. But it’s all part of the atmosphere: this is a nightmarish world you’re in. You, undead and driven by a lust for revenge, are quite a nightmare yourself.
There are less twisted levels, too, like the excellent Overlooked Hotel or The Haunting. Then there are tame maps like The Cold Rush. Just prepare yourself for the sadistic parts, especially if you’re not an avid consumer of contemporary horror. Blood: Fresh Supply comes with the Plasma Pak and Cryptic Passage addons. The former is the episode called Post Mortem, developed by Monolith. The latter is an extra episode of user-made levels that is, so far for me, easier and less gruesome than the original Blood maps. There is one slight hassle: once you’ve loaded Cryptic you have to quit and restart to access the original Blood again.
Blood: Fresh Supply Review | Final Thoughts
If you’ve never played Blood, Fresh Supply is a solid way to experience it. With the recent update and likely more fixes coming, it’s as good as an original copy with a source port. However, if you’re already humming with BloodGDX or an equivalent, there isn’t much here to bring you over yet, but you would still like playing Fresh Supply simply as a new way to play this timeless classic.
TechRaptor reviewed Blood: Fresh Supply on PC via Steam with a code provided by the publisher. It is also available on GOG and the Humble Store.
- Great Level Design
- Unique and Satisfying Weapons
- Delightful Cast of Enemies
- Not Enough to Win Over Blood Fans