IMPRESSIONS: Alder’s Blood

Friday, July 10th, 2020

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By


Alder’s Blood is a stealth, turn based strategy game. God is dead, and humanity killed him. In the game, that is. Since then, things have taken a turn for the worse. Beasts and all manner of vile creatures have spread throughout the land. Fortunately, Hunters are up to the task of combating the darkness that threatens to consume the last remaining vestiges of humanity.

The story kicks off with a man named Duke on some sort of mission, only to be met with unspeakable, unknowable horrors. You’re the chief of a local band of Hunters, and you set off to find what happened to Duke, your close friend. When you find him, he’s become blind, and a shell of his former self. From here, you set off journeying across desolate, monster infested wastes. Perhaps even discovering what truly is going on in the world in the process.

Alder's Blood | Gameplay

Alder’s Blood introduces you to all the core gameplay elements quite nicely. If you’ve ever played games like XCOM or Valkyria Chronicles, you’ll find it to be fairly familiar. Any actions you take require a certain amount of stamina. This game is pretty generous though and allows you to move a certain distance before it starts using up stamina. Much like the other games I’ve mentioned, each map has a certain objective you have to complete. It’s up to you to use your units wisely in order to achieve that.

What’s unique to this game though is the emphasis on stealth. You’re generally not going to engage in open combat very much in this game. If you do, it’s usually a sign that something went wrong. The general idea is to sneak up behind enemies and backstab them, leaving them in a downed state. From their, you can whittle their health down. Or, if you’re in a bit of a hurry, you can Banish them, killing them instantly. However, this does cause a lot of corruption in the Hunter to build up.

Alder's Blood | Party select

Of course, sneaking up behind enemies isn’t trivial, especially because you don’t have to just worry about the monsters sense of sight, but their sense of smell as well. All your Hunters give off a scent. This is seen with a visible trail coming off of your Hunter. This means that even when hiding, an enemy can still become aware of your presence. It’s a really neat mechanic, and I’d probably say a turn based stealth game like this would be made trivial were it not for this.

Another difference from other games like this is the fact that there is no accuracy stat weapons have that can cause you to just miss your enemy. If you’re in range of an enemy and have line of sight, you will hit them, every time. Of course, gunfire makes a very loud noise, which can ruin your stealth, so you want to be cautious when using firearms. To aid in stealth, you can very easily see the vision cones of each enemy. This means that there’s never any guesswork involved to stealth. If you get spotted, it’s because you were careless.

Alder’s Blood is fairly forgiving though, at least on normal mode. You can save at any point, even during battles, and if a battle is going completely the wrong way, you can just restart it with no penalty of any kind. Battles generally only take a few minutes, so it never feels like a huge loss of time.

Alder's Blood | Gameplay

Your units are also completely disposable, as is usual for this genre. Hiring new units is always an option, though you do want to keep in mind that the more Hunters you have, the more food you use up each day. You’ll likely go through a lot of Hunters though, and not just from them dying. I mentioned corruption a little bit ago, and that’s the main reason you’ll be replacing Hunters. I wasn’t able to completely nail down how this stat works. The only thing I know for sure is banishing enemies builds it up a lot, and killing enemies normally builds it only a little bit. It might sound bothersome, but so long as you keep a decent rotation of Hunters, and sacrifice Hunters when their corruption gets a bit too high, you shouldn’t have any problems. Your Hunters can level up, but leveling up mainly just grants passive bonuses. I don’t think you could ever end up in a position with “underleveled” Hunters.

Alder’s Blood isn’t all just turn based strategy, there’s some survival elements that you’ll have to deal with on the map screen. Venturing to new areas costs food, which can only be obtained by resting in certain locations and going hunting. It’s a pretty simple matter, but it is something you always have to keep in mind. There’s other resources like money and crafting materials as well, things to ensure you have plenty of. I never found myself starving for resources, but you do always want to be mindful of them.

Alder's Blood | Overworld

Camping is a necessity to gathering resources. This allows you to search for food, as well as craft new items. There is an ever-present danger though, if you don’t have Hunters guarding your camp, you could be easily ambushed by enemies. Or one of your Hunters could suffer an accident and lose health.

Also worth mentioning that if you want extra challenge, there is an “iron man” mode, where you can’t manually save at all, the game only auto-saves. This means of course that if you make a mistake, you can’t just roll it back. I’d recommend playing it without this first though, at least until you learn the nuances of the mechanics.

Alder's Blood | Gameplay

Visually, the game is a treat. Great 2D art that perfectly matches the dark tone they’re going for. Eldritch creatures and horrors of all kinds. The sound design and soundtrack make for perfect compliments, making for a very dark and brooding game. The voice acting was also pretty unexpected. You’re not getting star performances here, but it was still enjoyable and added to the overall experience.

Alder’s Blood rather surprised me. It’s in a genre that doesn’t get a whole lot of attention, but executes it very well, and does a lot to make it stand on its own. It’s fun and satisfying in the way that strategy games like this usually are. There’s also added satisfaction when you perfectly execute a plan without ever having enemies being alerted to your presence. The story is really interesting, and I quite enjoy the characters. If you’re a fan of this genre, it’s an easy recommendation.

 

 

About Jason Quinn

Been playing video games since before I could form coherent sentences. I love a wide variety of games, from fast, technical action games to slow RPGs. Aside from video games, I have a love of music, film, and anime.