Review – CROSSBOW: Bloodnight (Switch)

When you see a brand new $4.99 release on the Switch eShop, you immediately think it’s a lazy port of a mobile game, something with little content or effort put into. Well, even a broken clock is right twice a day, so that means that every now and then a title like that shows up to impress me, despite having all odds against it. One such example is Hyperstrange’s CROSSBOW: Bloodnight, a surprisingly lively port of a previously Steam-exclusive shooter.

CROSSBOW: Bloodnight

This zombie foe is easy peasy.

CROSSBOW: Bloodnight is a small battle arena survival shooter. There is a small backstory presented whenever you boot it up, but this is the kind of game that basically requires you to shut off your brain in order to fully enjoy it. You’re inside a circular arena clearly inspired by Gothic horror works, there are tons of monsters hell-bent on killing you, and your goal is to survive as long as possible. Simple as that.

You have one weapon at your disposal, the titular crossbow. If you think that all you’re capable of doing is shoot bolts until you die, you’re dead wrong. Somehow, this 12th century crossbow is basically the single most overpowered and versatile firearm in the history of gaming. If you press ZR once, you fire a spread shot not unlike a shotgun. Hold down the same button and your crossbow starts firing like a machine gun. Hold down the ZL button while firing, and your crossbow basically turns into a bazooka, firing a slow but stupidly strong explosive arrow. You are also granted a special “cleansing shot” every now and then, which acts as a screen-clearing ultimate attack, killing every single enemy in a straight line directly in front of you. All logic is thrown out of the window and I definitely don’t care.

CROSSBOW: Bloodnight

“I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand…”

There’s no finesse in here: you have this stupidly powerful weapon and tons of enemies trying to kill you, so kill them before they do the same to you. The level design is as basic as possible, meaning that there’s actually no way for you to be killed by an unfair surprise attack from behind. Any mistakes will be your own and I actually appreciate that. With the exception of a very wonky jump mechanic, CROSSBOW: Bloodnight acts like a very competent skill test. You’ll slowly learn how each enemy behaves, as well as the best kind of shot to take care of each one of them.

The game does not impress when it comes to its visuals and sound design, but doesn’t disappoint either. There aren’t many visual assets in here, as there is just one arena, one Bloodborne-esque background, and a handful of enemies. Granted, the enemy roster is quite varied and the performance is sublime. The game runs at 60fps at all times, no matter how many enemies are onscreen at any given time. The soundtrack is somber and not very memorable, but it gets the job done. I do think a gothic metal soundtrack would have worked better in this case, though.

Could it be… Satan?

I’ve recently played a similar survival arena shooter called Writhe, and some might wonder why a game like that failed in my opinion and CROSSBOW: Bloodnight succeeded, even though it offers even less content. The answer is simple: one was fun, the other wasn’t. Writhe‘s level design and limited arsenal were hindrances to the player’s success. CROSSBOW: Bloodnight doesn’t offer any kind of level geometry, but it pitches you against a bunch of varied monsters (not just a handful of different worms) with an overpowered byet versatile gun, letting you hone your skills against a game that doesn’t try to sucker punch you at all.

Could it be… Lovecraft?

You will see everything CROSSBOW: Bloodnight has to offer in a handful of minutes. It’s very limited in terms of content and things you can do in it. Yet, somehow, it works. It’s a fun battle arena that’s all about honing your skills against a horde of horror-styled enemies in a fun and fast-paced gameplay loop. Being sold for just a few bucks, it’s actually well worth your cash.

 

Graphics: 6.5

There aren’t many assets in a game comprised of a single battle arena, but there’s enough variety in the enemy roster. The game also runs at a locked 60fps.

Gameplay: 7.5

As long as you shut down your brain regarding how the titular crossbow works, you’ll be greeted with a fast-paced and responsive Quake-esque control scheme. I am not fond at all of the limited jumping mechanics, though.

Sound: 6.0

Not very memorable, but it fits with the game’s overall tone. Enemies growl every now and then as well.

Fun Factor: 7.0

It’s a dumb battle arena with limited content, but the combination of themes, fast-paced combat, and sheer power of your arsenal make for a surprisingly competent title that’s worth the minuscule price tag.

Final Verdict: 7.0

CROSSBOW: Bloodnight is available now on PC and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of CROSSBOW: Bloodnight was provided by the publisher.