Developer: SQUARE ENIX
Price: $6.99
Version: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPad 3

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Vampires have been associated with all sorts of things over the years – including forbidden love, unfathomable evil, oppression, terror, and Leslie Nielsen. Now we can add The Uncanny Valley to that list thanks to BLOODMASQUE. But as hilarious as it can be to awkwardly cram my mug onto a digital vampire slayer, the game itself manages to impress without relying on such gimmicks.

bloodmasque04In BLOODMASQUE, players control a half-vampire who hunts down full-blooded vampires. It’s a lot like “Blade,” only set in the Victorian Era and without the funky haircut. Each hunt consists of several stages that typically involve fighting through a handful of henchmen on a time limit before finally taking on their leader. A player’s quarry can belong to one of a few different vampire clans, and they can choose their own before each hunt to make use of them Rocks-Paper-Scissors style. One might be stronger against another, for example, but will yield smaller rewards in turn. It’s also possible to recruit other players’ characters for support. Meanwhile combat plays similarly to Infinity Blade, only backwards: tapping the screen attacks and swiping left or right will dodge. A few simple timing-based QTEs (quick-time-events) have also been thrown in for good measure when activating special moves or shoving a steak into an undead’s heart.

Aside from the incredibly derpy player-made faces (see below) that can thankfully be ignored in favor of more typical options, BLOODMASQUE is a great looking game. Even the combat is pleasantly flashy and stylish. It’s also surprising just how much I found myself preferring this “reversed” control scheme. It feels better than the system it’s obviously based on, honestly. And goofy face or not, I have to admit it’s pretty cool to see some semblance of myself fighting vampires and sporting better and better gear.

bloodmasque03BLOODMASQUE‘s requirement for a constant internet connection can be troublesome, however. I understand that it’s supposed to encourage recruiting other players but aside from that one aspect there doesn’t seem to be a legitimate need for it. It’s a shame because I really do enjoy playing it but I can’t do so whenever I’d like because of this restriction. I also found the movement controls (swipe to look, hold the screen to run forward) for exploring the town to be pretty awkward, but they’re a minor annoyance compared to the inability to actually play the game. That, and they don’t affect the combat at all.

I’ve been enjoying BLOODMASQUE a lot more than I’d have expected, considering its close mechanical ties to another third-person combat game I’m quite fond of. It just kills me that I can only play it when I have a wifi/3G/4G connection. Especially since there seems to be absolutely no legitimate reason for such a requirement. Still, when I can play it, it’s pretty great.

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