Greetings, Freelancer! Welcome to Bow to Blood. The intergalactic contest to choose the best captain in all the universe! Bow to Blood: Last Captain Standing, developed and published by Tribetoy, is a first-person strategy ship battle simulator released on April 3rd for PC, Switch, and Xbox One.
The player takes the role of the Freelancer, a captain chosen to battle in an intergalactically televised battle to the death with other captains of similar standing. To help with the ship, the Freelancer is helped by two ship mates, Ellie and Marlow. Ellie is a hothead, excited for battle, while Marlow is the calm, straight laced man of the group. As the captain, you can delegate these two to any part of the ship and they will improve that parts functionality. The areas you assign them to are the turrets, shields, drones, engines, and sensors.
A large part of the game is resource management, specifically “essence”. Essence is the life energy of the captain and can be assigned to different systems to enhance the skills they’re associated with. These systems being overshield, giving an extra shield to protect the ship, boost, which, as the name suggests, allows the player to utilize a boost, smart drones, which can latch themselves onto enemy targets, and advanced weaponry, which are extra rockets the player can use for an added advantage. You can move essence to any sector whenever you want, and the more essence charges you have assigned, the better that skill performs.
As the Freelancer, the player has complete control of the ship from the helm. You can direct how fast and which direction your ship moves, accessing a faster boost-less speed if one of the ship hands are on the engines. The goal of each area is to gain points and get the key to access the next warp point. Most of the time the keys are attached to a turret, but the player should try their best not to do just the bare minimum, as the score you achieve at the end of each level could spell death if it’s low enough. Attacking feels like a regular FPS, with the caveat that the airship doesn’t move the direction you’re aiming. If some drones get too close, the Freelancer is equipped with a low powered pistol. It’s not the best, but the only option when enemies can’t be hit by the ship cannons.
The art in Blood to Bow: Last Captain Standing is beautiful. While many futuristic space shooters rely on bland backgrounds and futuristic tech, the art direction for Bow to Blood skews more towards a cel-shaded color extravaganza. Tribetoy did not shy away from using every color they could, and it makes the game better that way. Each area has a palate it adheres to, and does so wonderfully, keeping each area unique and fun.
The music, however, might be the worst part of this game. It fades into the background at best and can be irritatingly simplistic and repetitive. There are a few times where this mold is broken, but those moments are few and far between.
Throughout your adventure you will be faced with numerous challenges, from battling enemies on the field to making alliances with other captains. You may decide you want to help every captain, or hurt everyone, but unfortunately, they aren’t the only obstacle you face through the adventure. As the captain, you must also adhere to the laws of Big Brother. The ratings you generate for your adventures could spell certain death for you and your compatriots, so it’s best to do what would be more entertaining for the audience even if it could go against your best interest.
Bow to Blood: Last Captain Standing was originally released for PSVR last year and while it handles well with a controller or a mouse/keyboard combination, VR is undoubtedly the best way to play this game. If you’re a quick thinker and are used to this type of game, you shouldn’t have any trouble, regardless of which playstyle you choose. Personally, I will be purchasing this game for PSVR in the future to get the best experience.