One last shot of Halloween retro FPS goodness for the road, before we begin our dark descent into November/December and the obnoxious hellscape that is Christmas marketing.
We listed Blood as one of the best horror games of all time, celebrating the action and tongue-in-cheek humour making it more Sam Raimi than John Carpenter. Despite largely falling from memory, the venerable horror FPS has one last trick up its sleeve; Death Wish, a full-game-length unofficial expansion that pushes both the engine and the action to their limits.
Death Wish is more of everything that made Blood work. Complex combat encounters, esoteric weaponry (get ready to bounce dynamite around corners again), very deadly enemies, interactive environments and no shortage of classic horror references. There’s a horror fan’s eye for detail visible in just about every map in this lengthy expansion.
One level in particular – Whisper Peak – is a clear tribute to Silent Hill; Dense fog, rusted otherworld and all. The level design is consistently impressive, and according to the update notes for the latest build, they’re pushing up hard against the upper limits of the engine itself. This is literally as good as Blood is ever going to get.
There’s every chance that you’ve heard of Death Wish before. Its original release was some years back, but this Halloween was notable for two reasons. Firstly, it was the day the mod received its final update, adding a few more levels, tuning the difficulty to be a little more human-palatable and generally polishing everything up to as close as you can get to a mirror shine in Blood’s grimy, rusty world.
The other notable reason to bring up Death Wish now is the recent release of BloodGDX. For the longest time, there has been no Blood equivalent to GZDoom or eDuke32 – no source port to allow us to experience the game outside of the confines of awkward DOS emulation. No longer. Reverse-engineered from early alpha builds of the game, BloodGDX is still a work-in-progress, but already the best way to experience Blood.
Better still, BloodGDX is compatible with almost every level and mod released for Blood, although Death Wish pushes the engine so hard that two maps (a minor issue in E2M1, and a larger one in E2M8) are a little glitchy at present. Not unplayable, but uglier than it should be. BloodGDX’s developer says he’s working on those issues now, but aside from those two maps misbehaving a little the entire campaign is best experienced this way.
You can grab Death Wish here, Blood from GOG, and the BloodGDX engine right here. While still imperfect, I highly recommend the source-port as the best way to play. If nothing else, it makes mouse controls vastly smoother and more consistent, and comes bundled with some extra voxel models to add a little more detail to the world without spoiling the DOS-era aesthetic.