A Lot of Padding With Little Substance
lMuch like its younger brethren, last year’s Blood Brothers 1, the best thing you can say about DeNa Corp’s Blood Brother’s 2 is that it sports a decent story and a lot of richly colored and genuinely beautiful art work. The game itself unfortunately is suffused with simplistic wind-beats-fire-beats-tree combat, repetitive gameplay, and too many expensive IAPs. You play as the Blood Brothers Tactician, crossing the land of Asharina in pursuit of a growing darkness that threatens Asharina’s sovereigns, the Triumvirate.
Blood Brothers 2 boasts a variety of game modes, all of which are tied into BB2’s F2P (free to play) system. The game will no doubt prove a pain for most players. Between its ultimately expensive in-app purchases and requisite data connection BB 2 asks a lot of players. Like most F2P’s these days it uses two currencies; you earn gold for finishing levels and arena fights, and receive BB 2’s premium in-game currency, Blood Sigils, for completing a chapter of the story. BB 2 also employs two different energy systems, one for arena levels and another for Story and Event levels, both systems replenish over time or can be restored with a Blood Sigil.
In Blood Brothers 2’s story mode you pursue the dark figure Galbraith who claims the Triumvirate you work for are evil. You’ll also fight new commanders who mistake you for invaders. Story-mode levels are played out on a board with two forts, yours and your opponent’s, with the goal being to capture your opponent’s fort. To this end, players can use up to three squads, while your opponent can begin with as many as eight and call for reinforcements later. If a player attacks an enemy while moving across a level map they gain the attack advantage during the ensuing battle.
In combat players select three of their squad’s commanders to face the enemy forces. Commanders fall under one of three classes and each class gains an attack and defense boost against another class, with melee units being strong against cavalry, cavalry beating ranged, and so on. Commanders can also use a variety of special attacks, including sweeping attacks, healing and defence buffs, and area of affect attacks. Players can check a Commander’s stats before placing them to get a rough idea about whether they’ll survive the round.
Each turn you gain tactic points to spend on tactic abilities that have been unlocked, with several varieties available. Players can heal units, damage enemy squads, incapacitate them, or poison them. Each level has a turn limit and if you exceed it, or your army is defeated, you’ll be given the option to continue for one Blood Sigil. Accepting will restore your squads to full health, including any that have been removed from the board. After finishing a level you’ll have a chance to recruit the Commanders fought.
Event mode is comprised of stand-alone levels which change regularly. They’re similar to Story mode except winning earns you Event Exp. Before beginning Story or Event levels Players can review the enemy squads, check their health points, composition and set up, although the list doesn’t include any reinforcement the enemy will likely call to hinder your progression.
Arena mode represents BB2’s multiplayer. In the arena you use a team of five commanders to participate in PvP battles. In arena the attack advantage switches every turn and you have only a short time to choose which commander to play. Commanders’ special attack can be used here and those not used are carried over to the next arena battle. Victors receive gold and league points (LP) and successive wins will grant a multiplier bonus as well. Players ranking up in arena receive blood sigils and gold and can unlock new perks called masteries to research.
A large portion of BB2 is spent acquiring and leveling your commanders. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Your commander can be levelled up with experience from story mode or trained using gold. Commanders have 5 ranks of rarity, from 1 star (common) to 5 stars (ultra rare), with each commander having multiple ranks. Higher ranks have higher base stats and bigger stat increases when levelling up. High rank commanders can only be found in later story levels, or summoned for five Blood Sigils apiece, and any duplicates will increase a commander’s level cap. Low level commanders can also be obtained three times a day from free summons. Unfortunately, every aspect of this system is built to lengthen BB2’s leveling and character acquisition grinds, the main purpose of which is to bore players into shelling out more cash.
To be fair, the story features some good moments and the writers have worked to include humor and lend the game’s characters a measure of depth. What’s more, arena mode brings an interesting twist to combat and the masteries element rewards those willing to take their time, but they’ll only help you progress so far, to excel in the highest levels you have to pay, and pay quite a bit. Progressing in story mode can be a rewarding tactical challenge, unfortunately, though most of the nuts and bolts of BB2’s gameplay can quickly become repetitive and formulaic.
While there’s a fair amount to keep you busy, the implementation of an energy system and other F2P aspects really slow down the pace of play a few chapters in. Levels can be an enjoyable challenge but after a while devolve into repetitive grinds against identical enemies as the game throws waves of reinforcements at you in the hope you’ll use a costly Blood Sigil. To make matters worse, the need to be constantly connected hampers gameplay as well, freezing mid-battle and presenting you with a load screen every time you switch between menus. Players looking for a good RPG would be far better served checking out any of the games on Hardcore Droid’s Best RPGs of All Time, and taking a pass on this pretty yet unbalanced pay to win title.