I’ll admit, the first thing I did when I started playing Bloody Good Time was bounce off it. I read through the How To, joined a game and.. got summarily confused, bemused, and killed. Over and over, for reasons I wasn’t entirely sure of, by people I didn’t think were supposed to be able to kill me, and in ways I didn’t completely understand. This isn’t exactly the best feeling to have when you start playing a new game. Especially one with such an esoteric premise and play style as Bloody Good Time.
You see, a film director has gone crazy, as film directors so very often do. He’s taken on a moniker, namely Director X, (he’s crazy, not creative), and decided to fill his studio with aspiring actors and actresses, and have them kill each other in the name of making an excellent slasher flick.
Right, now forget everything that I just said. It doesn’t matter, has no bearing on how the game plays out, and only really serves to provide a setting for the game. You run around, behind, and over film sets, seeing past the facades and props as you frolic about killing the other players and going to the toilet. And eating. And sleeping.
You see, not only are you an actor in this man's demented film, and not only are you expected to walk around picking up weapons and murder aids with the goal of offing your co-stars on his whims, but you're shackled to the bodily functions we all suffer from. Get too tired and you'll slow down, before fainting. Too hungry, and you'll have to pause while your belly rumbles. Bladder too full? You get the picture.
When you hear about the mechanics of a game like this, you can’t help but get excited. Thoughts of a multiplayer Hitman waft past your mind and you start to imagine setting up elaborate traps and fiendish ambushes. In reality, that’s not exactly how Bloody Good Time plays out, despite the possibility of doing all that.
Each map is divided in to scenes, which are basically just rounds that feature a different game type each time, be it Hunt, Infected, Kill the Leader, Free for All, and so on. There’s usually a break of about a minute between each mode, giving you time to go for a quick nap, eat a burger, or have a piss. And in the game.
The whole thing, however, revolves around the Hunt mode, with a few others thrown in there to break up the pace. You’re assigned a target, and someone is assigned you as a target, and you go from there, using your minimap and the constant update as to where your victim is to track them down and set something up. Layered on top of this is a stars system, where different types of kills net you different amounts of stars. Sometimes the shotgun will be worth five stars, and othertimes just two. In theory, this is a way of stopping things becoming a fragfest, with everyone just picking up the nearest weapon and having at it. And it kind of works, on the surface, with the players who take the time to find the valuable weapons getting the most points.
The problem is that some of the weapons are so much more straight forward and boring than others. If I wanted to go around killing people with a shotgun or a revolver, I would hardly be playing Bloody Good Time. I’m here for the poisons, the robotic explosive rats, the lullaby sheep, and the gluegun. I here for weapons which require finesse and setting up the best situation to use them. But most of all, I’m here for the traps.
Littered throughout each level are a series of traps, ranging from gas rooms, false floors, spike pits, whatever horror trope you can think of, it’s probably there, somewhere. It’s one of the only areas where the setting actually makes sense, and it’s also one of the only times that the ‘murder aids’ actually start to open the game.
I mentioned bouncing off the surface of the game earlier, and that was mainly due to the fact that you’re just thrust into a place that has so very many different possibilities thrust upon you. Things like the gluegun might not make immediate sense. Obviously it shoots glue, but for what purpose? And then you realise there’s a neat little X marking the spot where each trap fires, and you laugh, aim, and shoot a sticky patch right on it. Time it right, and your victim is going to slow down at just the wrong moment.
There are a dozen or so different items that all enable you to render your opponents vulnerable, and it’s through learning what they do, and how to apply them to the levels, that you’re really going to get the most out of Bloody Good Time. Frankly, I don’t care so much about the score; if I can get one perfect, stunningly executed execution out of every game, I’m happy to come last. Except, of course, I probably won’t because traps net you the maximum stars for a kill.
Missteps abound, unfortunately. The mere inclusion of the guns in the game seems at best a compromise, and at worst a lazy addition, if only because they reduce Bloody Good Time so often to a really weak FPS. If they’d filled the game with more inventive, highly contextual weapons, it would have been infinitely more interesting to play.
Also, it seems to play far better with less players, with around four or five being the optimum. Granted, the largest servers I’ve seen have been for sixteen players, but that’s far too many, with things getting hectic and overwhelming before a round even starts.
Bloody Good Time left me initially confused not because it’s necessarily confusing itself, but because it is, as a game design, confused. It feels like half the game I really want to play, and half a concession to make it appeal to people who might not necessarily go for it. The Ship was a concept that desperately called out for refinement. And while Bloody Good Time is interesting in its own right, it’s not the distillation we needed, and more just a watering down.
For £4, though, it’s worth a pop.