Blightbound Preview: Speed-Dungeon Crawling

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The world has been covered in darkness, yadda, yadda, yadda… Blightbound‘s story is one you’ve heard countless times before.

Thankfully though, there are some unique aspects to this co-op action RPG that’s imminently landing in Steam Early Access.

With the world in peril in Blightbound, heroes have risen up. Or at least some heroes, anyway. In the preview build we played, taking control of a capable assassin, we rescued a warrior and a mage during the tutorial, and then we were set to begin our fight against the forces of darkness proper. In the full game there will be more heroes to rescue and take into battle, however; you’ll just need to save them from the Blight first.

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Of course, each hero has their own palette of skills, the majority of which have cooldown timers. From temporary stat boosts to powerful attacks, making use of the skills available to you is the key to success, and each hero also has a unique ability up their sleeve that can really turn the tide of battle.

The assassin, for example, gains pips as she hits enemies with her main attack. Those pips can then be used to fuel a powerful blow that interrupts opponents. Use it to stop their most powerful attacks and you’ll find yourself having a much easier time in combat. The mage, meanwhile, gains energy by defeating enemies with his basic attack, which can then be used to heal his companions. And the warrior can block pretty much all attacks with his shield, then retaliate with increased force.

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On the surface, you may think that Blightbound looks a bit like Diablo, and indeed it is in some regards. A number of key things separate it, though. First is the art style; it’s similarly dark and oppressive, but there are clear comic book influences, with characters looking like they’ve been lifted straight from a page. There’s also the environments; they’re less expansive and more focused than any of those found in the premier loot-filled action RPG series.

And there are other differences, too. Blightbound forces you to play in a team, for example. There’s no going it alone. You either get some friends around to form a three person team on the couch, or play with others online. If you can’t get a three-person squad together, basically you aren’t playing. The action itself is quite arcadey; it’s fast-paced, with short and sharp missions that don’t waste your time.

In between battling monstrosities out in Blighted dungeons, you return to the refuge. It’s your safe space where you can manage your heroes. You seemingly can’t change their skills at all, but you can place stat points wherever you like upon levelling up. They have a limited number of equipment slots, too, allowing you to increase their potential with new weapons and accessories that you either loot, or eventually craft.

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It seems like the primary form of progression in Blightbound is raising the prosperity level of your refuge. As you run dungeons and power up your heroes, the refuge’s prosperity level will increase. It will also increase when you rescue civilians, artisans and other heroes. Each new prosperity level brings with it a new reward. It might be a bonus stat point for your heroes, or new functionality back at the refuge. Basically, if you want to see everything that Blightbound has to offer and make your heroes as powerful as they can be, raising the prosperity level of the refuge is a must.

Blightbound is expected to be in Early Access for about a year, with its developer Ronimo Games hoping to improve it by taking player feedback on board. It will give players access to nine heroes from three different classes, as well as six handcrafted levels. If you’re after something that you can jump into with friends for a quick blast of co-op action RPG gameplay then you should give it a look. With its equipment and progression systems it should also have long-term appeal. And if the beta we’ve played is anything to go by, it’s already pretty robust.

Blightbound is available from 29th July via Steam Early Access.