It wasn’t too long ago that the Nintendo Switch went through a period or receiving Wii U ports to bolster its fledgling library. For the large part, these ports were generally welcome and have helped in some way to create the expansive library of games that is now available on Nintendo’s console. However, the latest series of games to go through the porting process are coming in the shape of titles originally created for the Virtual Reality platform. Much like the Wii U titles, some of these have transitioned well to the non-VR format, but there are others that sit infinitely better in a virtual setting. The latest of such titles to make the transition from VR to reality comes in the form of Tribetoy’s Bow To Blood: Last Captain Standing, an action-adventure that sees you partaking in a futuristic reality TV show.
The main premise of the game revolves around a group called the Overseers who have devised a new game show entitled Bow to Blood. You play as one of the contestants, The Freelancer, as you compete against eight other competitors in order to emerge victorious. The main staple of the gameplay involves piloting a giant airship around a series of arena-like levels, as you strive to accrue a series of points to keep you from possessing one of the two lowest scores of the competing captains. Should you find yourself at the foot of the leaderboard, the two least scoring competitors come under the scrutiny of a voting system; attract the least amount of these and its curtains for you.
In order to avoid such a disastrous conclusion, you and your crew of two, must navigate your way around a series of objectives through a variety of two-levelled tiers by collecting loot caches, destroying enemy craft and beating your rivals through a series of races. Each of the levels are procedurally generated, as is the order of which events happen, creating a game that can shuffle things around and change with each playthrough. At the start of each level, you are given a choice of two events that you can partake in. You can choose in which order you face these tasks, although any damage you may sustain carries through to the next bout.
You view the game from a first-person perspective and from within the seat of your captain’s chair aboard the airship. Similar in style to a pirate’s galleon, your ship is armed with a series of broadside cannons which can be aimed through the direction of your viewpoint. You also take on the responsibility of steering your craft, whilst your crew can man certain stations in order to provide boosts to some your ships functions. Navigation is performed with the left thumbstick, whilst your viewpoint is controlled with the right. The shoulder buttons serve as speed adjusters and firing mechanisms, whilst the face buttons can activate certain special abilities. Commanding your crew is utilised through a radial menu that can be brought up the D-pad. For the most part, the control scheme works quite well, although the cumbersome movement of your airship can take some adjusting to and the duality of movement and viewpoints can be a bit daunting at first; unfortunately, an inevitable carry-over from its VR roots to a more restricted setting.
In order to keep a footing within the game’s series of events, you must navigate around each of the levels in search of point-boosting items and an elusive key that allows you to warp to the next level; although this largely depends on the challenges facing you within each of the levels. For instance, when tasked with a race, you simply need to beat your opponent. Markers on your HUD point the way to where cache loots may be found. However, the airspace is also filled with a series of deadly drones or other airships that are captained by the other competitors. It’s here where the combat element of the game comes into play. Using your reticule of sight, you can fire off a series of barrages to destroy any other airborne threats. However, these foes can also fire back, causing you to be mindful of all of your ships various functions and components.
Should a system take damage, you can order your crew to make repairs, charge shields, provide a speed boost or man the guns. It gives you a lot to think about whilst on-the-fly, although having your shipped damaged to a point of non-functionality doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the road for you. Game over occurs only when you are voted off the show; even if your ship is destroyed, the points you may have mustered still carry over into the other elements of the game. It’s here that the game takes a turn in direction, providing you with a series of interactions and choices with the other captains that can create rivalries or forge alliances. This becomes an important element in the mechanics of surviving within the world of the game show. You can help others by donating some of your accrued points, or split the winnings to persuade other captains to not vote against you. Whatever choices you make, each of them have an impact on how the other captains view you; befriend one and another may take offence.
These interactions largely take place between levels whilst you take some R & R within your quarters. From here, you can also save your progress, view any trophies and advance to the next episode, or level, of the game show. Along with the piloting elements of the game, this is a strategic title that requires tactical thinking, a good aim and the ability to make the most out of your given situation. Whilst you may be knee-deep in combat, you must also command your crew to keep your airship afloat, activate special abilities such as defensive shields or homing missiles and try to accrue as much loot as possible in order to attain your rankings on the leaderboards and keep out of the bottom two.
There’s a lot to think about in a real-time setting, which for the most part, is easily manageable once you get to grips with the mechanics of the game. However, there are several mechanics that make life a bit more difficult than it really should be. This is largely down to the transition from VR to a more static format. As mentioned previously, navigating and controlling feels like a constant fight with a slow, cumbersome movement that can be difficult to maintain This is largely down to the constant need to alter your viewpoint as you battle other airships or drones, as well as keep an eye out for any other threats within the sky. It takes a while to get the hang of controlling your ship and looking around the environment at the same time. Admittedly, it doesn’t really take too long to become acquainted with the setup, although it constantly feels like an uphill battle.
Overall, Bow to Blood: Last Captain Standing is an interesting little game that can offer a good distraction whilst on the go. With its procedurally generated levels of gameplay and interesting levels, this is a game that can last over the long-term. However, saying that, it could also be said that it can be a bit repetitive in nature, despite containing several elements to break up the gameplay. The main bulk of the game, captaining your vessel and maintaining a good level of control is fun and provides a good level of entertainment, plus it looks fantastic with its cartoon-styled graphics. It’s quite a unique game and offers something different to play on the Switch, so it’s also a shame that it is slightly marred by some slow control mechanics and fiddly elements in keeping things constant. Although it plays a decent enough game, it’s also easy to see that this is a title that is best suited to the VR environment that it was originally developed for. If you can see past this though, then this is a title that can eventually become a good blast.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Bow to Blood: Last Captain Standing Review
Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 7/10
Replay Value - 7/10
User Review( votes)
Will you become the last captain standing, or will you simply bow to blood?