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August 2022

Crossbow: Bloodnight

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC
Genre: Online Multiplayer
Developer: Hyperstrange
Release Date: Jan. 29, 2021


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Switch Review - 'Crossbow: Bloodnight'

by Cody Medellin on Aug. 20, 2021 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Crossbow: Bloodnight is a frantic score-attack arena shooter set in a world of camp horror and gore.

The Nintendo Switch has one thing in common with the PC space, and that's a plethora of available games. That's awesome for those looking for a variety of titles to play, but it also means that there's a huge swath of offerings that are unknown and widely variable in quality. It doesn't help that a majority of the games have generic titles, and when combined with the low price tag, a title like Crossbow: Bloodnight doesn't seem too appealing. Give it a shot, though, and you'll be surprised to find that it does enough to keep it out of shovelware territory.

If you're looking for a story, there isn't much of one. The first gameplay screen talks about how the crossbow has been banned because it's too powerful of a weapon. From there, you are dropped in the middle of a plaza while enemies spawn around you. From zombies to werewolves, everything arrives at the plaza, hell-bent on destroying you. With no exit, you use your crossbow to stay alive for as long as possible.

The titular crossbow is your only weapon. One attack uses it as a shotgun as you fire an arrow that does its best damage at close quarters. Another attack sees the weapon become a machine gun with endless bolts being thrown out. Take aim with the crossbow and fire off an explosive arrow much like a rocket launcher. If you have your meter fully powered up, you can slow down time to unleash a bolt that calls down other bolts from the sky to kill every enemy on-screen.

Get past the silliness of the crossbow's usage, and you'll find that Crossbow Bloodnight actually makes smart use of how each weapon is fired. Tapping on ZR gives you the shotgun blast, while holding down that same button transforms it into the machine gun. Tap on L to bring forth the screen-clearing bolts, and pull on ZL to make ZR fire off the explosive bolts. The system is simple and versatile, and it frees you from manually switching out crossbow types, so you can focus on shooting. That focus helps greatly since the game is fast-paced. The lack of reloading means that you're always shooting with no penalty. Monsters move quickly, but so do you, and it all feels like someone took the vibe of classic PC shooters and distilled it to pure action.

That's all there is to the game, really. One mode, one arena, and one life to use before hitting "Retry" to start another run. Except for the fact that it's hard to tell how close you are to death or who is attacking you at certain points, the lack of complexity makes it a basic source of fun, even if it feels like this should be a mode to a bigger game rather than a stand-alone product. It helps that retrying the stage is instantaneous, but the real motivator comes from the online leaderboards, which at the time of this writing, has its top entry surviving for over 30 minutes. Whether you can survive for at least 10 minutes with everything going on is another story, but it is positive to see that the goal is somewhat attainable and that the leaderboards have a healthy amount of entries, especially since the game lacks other motivators, like unlockable arenas or crossbow cosmetics.

As far as presentation goes, it works but isn't flashy. The sound effects are fine, and the music goes for a classic goth style, though you'll barely notice amidst the growling and projectile fire. The graphics are bathed in very dark colors, and the environments and monsters aren't exactly great to look at. However, you'll forgive that when you notice that the game sticks to a solid 60fps regardless of whether you're docked or playing in portable mode, something that not too many first-person shooters on the system can claim.

For $5, Crossbow: Bloodnight provides a nice, quick arcade experience for those who want something simple and don't have lots of time to spare. The fast-paced nature keeps things exciting, and while there are times that can feel like the game is using unfair tactics, the instantaneous replay system and focus on shooting keeps you glued to the screen, even for a short while. If you need a quick palate cleanser between bigger titles, this'll do in a pinch.

Score: 7.0/10

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