25. Blood [official site] (1997)
Developer: Monolith Productions
Publisher: 3D Realms
Ah, the red stuff. You can have horror without it, of course, but every now and then you need bucketloads of the stuff. Blood isn’t a frightening game, it won’t make you leave the light on after playing it, but it’s a wonderful first-person shooter steeped in references to the great and good of the genre (and some that are neither great nor good). The weapons are central to the enjoyment and a fine reminder of a time when having various calibers of gun wasn’t considered the bedrock of a decent loadout. Dynamite can be lit and then lobbed as the fuse visibly burns down. You can drop it in an enemy’s path or chuck it into the midst of a mob. You can even hold onto it until the fuse burns down and see your hands reduced to skeletal claws. There is a flare gun, which causes enemies to ignite seconds after they are hit. The melee weapon is a pitchfork.
All of that is placed within levels that were mindblowing at the time and remain entertaining today. Above all else though, Blood earns a place on this list by reminding us that horror can be silly. Zombies heads should be booted around like footballs from time to time, and the world needs Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson as much as it needs Romero, Cronenberg and Stanley Kubrick’s Overlook Hotel.
Notes: Due to licensing issues, the source code for Blood has never been released, unlike Build engine stablemates Shadow Warrior and Duke Nukem 3D.
What else should I be playing if I like this: Duke 3D and the original Shadow Warrior are lesser Build engine games but the former is still worth a look. The recent Shadow Warrior reboot is probably the closest thing we’ll see to a modern take on Blood though. Perhaps Painkiller as well.