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Game Info:

Alder’s Blood
Developed By: Shockwork Games
Published By: No Gravity Games
Released: Q1 2020
Available On: Windows
Genre: Stealth, Strategy
ESRB Rating: Not Rated
Number of Players: single player
Price: N/A

Thank you No Gravity Games for sending us a review code!

God is dead, and someone or something killed Him. That’s one way to start a narrative. Alder’s Blood immediately separates itself from other games with a daring premise. The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting but instead of the current state of the world being caused by nuclear warfare or invasion, it is by a “plague” of sorts caused by God’s death. Dark beasts of all manners lurk throughout the wasteland and humanity is barely clinging onto survival. The only thing stopping The Darkness from taking over everything are “hunters”; beings that are not fully human and skip between the edges of both light and darkness.

Alder’s Blood is a turn-based strategy game with stealth elements and mechanics. Unlike many strategy games where you control a group of powerhouses slaying armies with little effort, you’re both outmanned and outmatched from the beginning. The creatures of The Darkness are plentiful and can overpower you very easily. As to them, humans and hunters alike are mere prey to the beasts and are forced to use their wits and a stealthy approach to either eliminate the beasts, sneak past them, or bring them to a knocked down and vulnerable state. Enemies can be instantly killed in this state as the character under your control is enveloped in a shadowy figure and can perform an execution, but using said feature also brings the individual closer to madness.

Battles take place on a grid, all controlled via mouse. Much of the playing field is covered in darkness so one is unable to see any enemies beyond plain sight. Fortunately, there are many hiding spots littered across the field, such as tall grass, to help keep out of sight. Utilizing the tall grass and obstructions to deliver fatal blows is key to victory. For those familiar with the strategy genre, you may notice that a good amount of quality-of-life features as missing, such as an undo button to revert any decisions made. This may have been a purposeful design choice due to the stealth mechanics, but as misclicks can and will happen, a large mistake can mean a mission restart. It is completely fair that being spotted or uncovering more of the map should be a permanent choice but there are other moments where nothing of note happens in the decision and you are still otherwise punished for it as it cannot be reverse.

Alder’s Blood
Highlights:

Strong Points: Adding stealth mechanics is a nice change of pace from the standard strategy game
Weak Points: Missing quality of life features that other games in the genre have, such as an undo feature
Moral Warnings: Violence and blood aplenty; supernatural creatures of all kinds such as werewolves, ghouls, and vampires; language uttered from “d*mn” to “bulls**t”; some instances of blasphemy

A stamina bar is one of the main features of Alder’s Blood as every action is determined by it. Every character has a set number of spaces they can move but can expend their stamina to move even further. Stamina is also used to attack, with stamina being replenished after your next turn. Poor usage of stamina can leave the characters in an exhausted state, which makes them unable to take any further action until the following turn. Exhausting your stamina isn’t always a bad thing as it can get you out of range of dangerous foes or be used to kill a threatening enemy, just make sure that you are in a safe spot before doing so.

Outside of battles is where resource management takes place. Your group can set up camp to replenish supplies, heal up after battle, craft new weapons, take on missions, and travel to other areas. This is where you can also conduct a ritual sacrifice to those who fully succumb to the madness. The character is killed off while passing down their knowledge (experience) to the recipient. The resource management isn’t the most in-depth but is just a form of micromanaging to keep in mind, almost giving it an “Oregon Trail” feeling, except much more grim.

The world of Alder’s Blood is a very dreary and dull setting—and rightfully so. The graphics are similar to games such as “Darkest Dungeon” (a 2D roguelike RPG with gritty hand-drawn 2D graphics and gothic aesthetics) and the design of the characters and world are a mixture of dark Victorian and the American frontier. The sky is bathed in a permanent red and the overall world is dry. The music accompanies the setting with sounds that are taken directly from a horror film. The unsettling instrumentals make the hopeless setting feel even more hopeless. On the contrary, the sound effects from the creatures themselves could use some work. The werewolves, in particular, are pretty laughable and can take you out of the feeling of dread as quickly as the atmosphere puts you in.

Alder’s Blood
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 78%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 4.5/5
Controls - 4.5/5

Morality Score - 44%
Violence - 0/10
Language - 5/10
Sexual Content - 6/10
Occult/Supernatural - 1/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Blasphemy in Alder’s Blood is done differently than from other games (at least from what I’ve witnessed). Many would take the easy way and simply use God’s name in vain. Alder’s Blood approaches it differently. As stated in the beginning, God is dead, not “a” god, “the” God and the world is left in a very unfortunate state. With Him no longer around to protect and guide humanity, people’s worst fears have become a reality. With people barely clinging on to life while being mercilessly hunted down and slaughtered, this has caused a lot of individuals to lose their faith in God, with many believing that this whole situation is Him punishing humanity, while others simply gave up on Him ever coming back. Not every character is like this as there are a few characters that still hold on to their faith.

Other things to look out for are language, ranging from mild swears like “d*mn” to stronger swears like “bulls**t.” As expected, blood and gore are shown with some animations and stills being rather graphic in nature. One graphic illustration depicts a person's skin melting off of their body and it is as grisly as it sounds. There are also a lot of supernatural creatures ranging from vampires and werewolves to ghouls and other sorts of monsters and beasts. One creature, in particular, resembles a human-shaped female. Although nothing graphic is shown, the creature is depicted as topless.

The mixture of both stealth and turn-based tactics manages to work out well for itself as it presents a unique experience. There are some minor glitches here and there (none of them are game-breaking and are very easily fixed by simply saving and reloading the file) and controls can be a bit finicky in some places. Camera control is a bit too precise as it requires the mouse to be right at the edge of the screen, making it so that not playing in fullscreen is more trouble than it’s worth. As of its current state, Alder’s Blood shows off a lot of promise to the hardcore lovers of these particular genres and even has an “Ironman” mode for those who want it even harder—making it so that every decision is permanent. The nature of Alder’s Blood will probably turn away this general reading audience, but if you’re able to move past it and are a fan of strategy or stealth games, you’ll want to keep an eye out for this one.

About the Author

Cinque Pierre

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divinegames @SageWaterDragon In all honesty I haven't listened to it, not really into rap music. I respect his faith and openness about sharing it
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divinegames ccgr played Where the Water Tastes Like Wine (Steam) in the last 24 hours https://t.co/tQ4VWXT0ws #exophase
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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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