#BLUD: A Nostalgic Cartoon Experience – Indie Spotlight

When searching through the included demos in this month’s round of Steam Next Fest, I was looking for something fun, unique, and definitely exciting. That’s when #BLUD instantly caught my eye with its vibrant colors, brilliant cartoon features, and terrifying vampires. One of my favorite things about video games is how there are so many visually unique games to experience. #BLUD is a wonderful example of how two mediums can create a fantastic gaming experience, and I cannot wait to experience the full game when it releases.

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“#BLUD’s atmosphere is true to a classic Saturday morning cartoon”

In #BLUD, you play as Becky Brewster, a recently moved-in high school student trying to fit in. Oh, and there’s a vampire apocalypse unraveling before you. Normal high school hijinks. As you explore different areas and progress through the main story, you’ll engage with various characters, some of whom will have their own side quests. These side quests are written with #BLUD’s over-the-top signature cartoon flare and are a fantastic addition as they help flesh out both sides of Becky’s life through a mix of every day and vampiric tasks. Some tasks involve defeating enemies, while others require Becky to bring certain found items to classmates. It’s a nice reminder that she is, after all, just a high school student.

In-game screenshot

#BLUD brings a nostalgic twist to the classic dungeon crawler experience for those who grew up watching 90s or 2000s cartoons. Its energetic animation and expressive character designs made me feel like I was back in my childhood, watching some of my favorite cartoons, such as The Fairly Odd Parents, as I was fighting off the vampire apocalypse. This can be seen in almost every aspect of the game, from combat to dialogue, in which the heavily animated, expressive, and often hilarious discussions made me chuckle. Although #BLUD is more gruesome than a child’s cartoon, its atmosphere is true to a classic Saturday morning cartoon; there was not a moment where something felt out of place.

“You can tell the developers of #BLUD have put a lot of thought into the game through its animation alone.”

Combat in #BLUD is refreshing thanks to its easy-to-understand controller scheme, such as when using dodges and attacks. The animations for the moves themselves are also beautifully done, making every attack feel all the more impactful and satisfying. You can tell the developers of #BLUD have put a lot of thought into the game through its animation alone. It makes you want to keep playing to see how expressive #BLUD gets as you go up against more gruesome vampiric enemies.

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As you progress through dungeons, complete puzzles, and fight more diverse foes, they get harder to beat, but nothing matches Becky’s hockey stick. This sporty weapon will become your best friend as you continue to play, especially when up against the bosses. An early-game boss, a giant mutated rat, was fun to go up against as it had two different stages, both of which made me switch up my strategy on the fly. It used rats and tentacles to attack me, both of which were well-telegraphed but required quick reactions, keeping me on my toes during the whole fight.

“You can take selfies with everyone and every enemy.”

Although #BLUD does look like a 90s cartoon, it brings in modern technology for players to use to their advantage. The integration of cell phones allows Becky to utilize the fictional social media platform Perch. It has several in-game uses, such as allowing you to engage in conversations online to further understand the story and personality of each individual character.

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Becky also uses Perch to find and track main and side missions, aptly labeled as Stories on the app. Finally, you can use it to take selfies with everyone and every enemy. As you select the pose you want to strike, the images with enemies will note their weaknesses in Becky’s bestiary. Pictures with people will be uploaded to Perch, which often results in certain characters having comedic discussions about the image.

“I can’t wait to experience the full game and continue to bask in the nostalgia #BLUD serves in droves when it launches later this year.”

#BLUD is an incredibly polished experience, one that pays homage to Saturday morning cartoons in the best way possible. Its slick animations, hilarious writing, and fun premise make for a truly engaging experience that made it feel like I was back in my childhood living room watching cartoons. There is a lot to love about the eccentric charm of the game’s cast of characters and story, so much so that I can’t wait to experience the full game and continue to bask in the nostalgia #BLUD serves in droves when it launches later this year.

In-game screenshot

#BLUD is coming to PC in 2024. If you like the look of #BLUD, make sure to check out its Steam page and wishlist it so you’re notified about any future updates.

Indie Spotlights are previews of indie games that have caught our eye. They’re more like a review-in-progress that allows us to cover more indie games than we might normally have time for.