The Bloodline is an open world fantasy RPG by solo developer Miles Whittaker at Shieldbearer Studio and published by HOOK. It launched on Steam early access on October 5 and is a sandbox RPG that is surprisingly in-depth and ticks a lot of my RPG boxes. There’s skills-based progression, story quests, overworld map travel, engaging combat, and secrets to discover as you explore further.
You take the role of a descendant of the Harbinger bloodline – a lineage gifted the power of foresight by an ancient god to protect Eudros from the Unforgiven. A legend that seemed faded in time… but your visions show The Unforgiven marching, the Harbinger defeated, and the land devastated. While there are quests to follow, we can talk to most NPCs and they usually have a task for you that you can choose to assist with or ignore, the choice is yours.
After creating my character I started running my way down the castle levels and straight away earned running level 1, so pretty much anything you do in-game, jumping was next to level up, earns you XP in that action. I ran around naked for a while wondering if there was a chest containing my gear, but it turns out it was in my inventory all along – sorry world. One of the first NPS I came across could teach me either pyromancy or cryomancy. There’s no voice acting, just a murmur or two from each character as you click through conversation options.
I’m a sword and board (sword and shield) player first and foremost, but I don’t mind dabbling in magic on occasion. In The Bloodline, magic is pretty cool to learn where you have a key of runes that correspond to letters of the alphabet and must input runes corresponding to a word, for example COLDBREAK. The quicker you do this, the more XP you earn.
Running down to ground level, every npc has a quest marker above their heads. One npc had lost his hat and the wind had blown it up onto a stone pillar. Running and jumping into a wall switched me to climbing mode, and I gingerly made my way up to collect the hat, and levelled up my climbing skill. Someone else required me to collect moss from around the castle outskirts, and in doing so I came across some goblins. What I liked here was the sudden change in music that I heard before the actual skuffling of the goblin towards me. It is a clever use of music to alert the player.
As I ran further around the castle, I hit an invisible wall that said, press E to exit the area. A tutorial popped up explaining how gameplay is split into two perspectives. The character perspective allows you to explore your immediate zone. The other mode in The Bloodline is the overworld (top-down) perspective and this resembled games like Shroud of the Avatar and Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord, where you can quickly traverse the land between towns more efficiently.
Building and crafting is also an option in the game where you can collect resources like ore and wood and build a shop, warehouse or other such buildings to create a village in place of abandoned decrepit building ruins. There’s also decorating too where you can add things like fences and plants, and depending on the kinds of decorations you place will determine the types of npcs that may visit the area.
Combat is first-person and is decent enough where you can play with your own style and weapons. I used a one-handed sword for a while until I finally found a shield when I was looting some ruins. As I entered the ruins and started to take out more goblins, it was announced that a goblin horde was charging my location. I was high on a wall looking down and could see the swarm running towards the ruins. There were a heap of them that would jump up the walls or find other ways into the ruins. Some will drop loot to collect and there were chests with other items. There didn’t seem to be a carry weight limit which was great as I hoovered everything I found.
Eventually I worked my way towards the Steps of Esros to carry on the main story quest. There were a number of enemies to fight along the way and I could see ores that I wasn’t skilled enough to mine yet. Getting to the top of the steps was awesome as there was an aurora borealis in the sky, and I was so amazed that all of this has been made by solo developer Miles Whittaker. Kudos to you good sir as this is an epic game so far with plenty for me to explore still, and more content is on the way during the early access period.
So far, The Bloodline is an incredibly deep and rich RPG where anything you do will earn you XP to unlock skills, and the main story quest is very engaging. The graphics are simple but are ample as the gameplay and story took precedence for me. It was exciting exploring every new area and learning new skills. I am super keen to watch the game grow over the early access period and if you’re a fan of open world RPGs, definitely check this game out.
This review utilised a key provided by Mark Allen PR and The Bloodline is available now on Steam early access.