Bow to Blood Last Captain Standing is a singleplayer action airship flight game developed by Tribe Toy. It is available on Steam, Xbox One, Oculus and Nintendo Switch for $19.99 and PlayStation 4 for $29.99. This review was conducted on a standard Xbox One console by Joseph Pugh.
EDIT: The PlayStation 4 Version has dropped in price to match the other versions at $19.99.
Bow to Blood is what you would get if the TV show survivor and a spaceship game had a baby. Then that baby grew up to captain a pirate ship, who then volunteered as tribute in the hunger games. Strange? Perhaps. Fun? Hell yes.
You are the freelancer competing in a season of a reality TV show. The reality show in question is about flying airships and blowing stuff up. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that’s all Bow to Blood is about though. It takes the theme of a reality show runs with it. You will forge friendships, betrayals, and drama while attempting to stay in the game without being voted out of the competition.
Play really well and you may not need your friends. But if you have a bad run it pays to have some votes in your back pocket. Its a concept that’s rarely been seen in games, and has never pulled off very well. Until now.
The season lasts a number of rounds, each round consists of two stages then the culling. During the culling contestants cast votes to give one other contestant the boot. Once three contestants remain you run a gauntlet and then the finale. The game is decently replayable, no two playthroughs run out the exact same way. You will forge different friendships with the contestants and your choice of missions vary.
The first stage of a mission consists of a specific objective, but the goal is for you to gather as many points as possible. Most of these are risk vs reward scenarios. You can usually pull out at any time after you have found the gate key. Or push on for more points. Any damage you sustain carries over to the next round. It will cost you a lot of points if you go down, since you cant finish the match.
This is important. The two contestants at the bottom are eligible to be voted out. Stay ahead of the competition and you need not worry about who hates your guts. The second stage of a round is usually a boss battle that can be worth a hefty sum.
Actually flying the airship controls like a combination of an actual ocean ship and space fighter craft. You have lasers on the bow of the ship and cannons on the starboard and port. The ones you fire depends on the angle of attack. You have to set the level of acceleration and you can steer your ship left and right as well as dive and climb.
I also appreciate that I could look all the way around my ship. The cell shaded graphics are pretty gorgeous and stylistic and there is a fair amount of little details on your ship. It enhances the feeling of actually being there. Not that I want to be, of course, heights are a no from me dawg.
You also have several subsystems that you can allocate power to, and deciding which functions you want to have more oomph is important to your strategy. This includes boosting for extra speed, deploying a drone that disables enemy craft, an over shield you can deploy in key moments and the ability to use secondary weapons.
As far as secondary weapons go, you always have access to an armor piercing cannon. You can be gifted the other special ammo types by a friend or a boon from the overseers (The judges overseeing the show. You can also rarely find them when exploring and fighting with your airship.
To add to the complexity you also have to manage two very well voiced crew members. You can send one of them to control a turret, boost engines, sensors,, shields or man a drone of their own.
Swapping them around is very important in battle. Lastly, you can be boarded by enemy drones that bypass your shields and are to close to hit with ship weapons. In these instances, you can draw a trusty sidearm and deal with them personally.
Actually piloting the airship is shockingly, but pleasantly deep. Between flying, shooting and managing the subsystems and crew, you have a lot to deal with at any given time. However, this is where the game potentially falters as well.
Once you have seen everything the ship has to offer, that’s it. It never changes. There is no kind of progression for your ship. No weapons or pieces to swap in and out. Your ship controls the same in match ten as match one.
This isn’t inherently bad, if the gameplay clicks with you, it may make no difference. But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make the game feel a tad bit shallow in spite of the ships complexity. It is fun to fly and fight regardless.
In and outside of matches you will be interacting with the NPC contestants of the game. Each one have their own personalities, likes and dislikes and they will be forging friendships and ally’s with each other in addition to you. Your choices can heavily affect the way the game plays out.
Not only will friends be more likely not to vote you out, but they can also provide you with boons, whether that be ammo or aiding you in a match, such as knocking out some engines of a convoy you were about to fight.
Enemies, on the other hand, will not only try to vote you out but could sabotage you in a match, A voted off contestants feelings toward you will carry ripple effects even in to the finale.
Your crew members and the show announcer all have talented voice actors and the choices and dialogue your fellow contestants offer really sells the theme. One of them appears to be based on a character from one my favorite book series and that tickles me pink. Bow to Blood flawlessly nails the feeling of being on a reality show and captures the drama contained within them.
It’s fun and unique, it’s most certainly has replay value but is also a little bit shallow without any kind of progression to speak of. Yet the reality TV show aspect is so incredibly charming and well done that I’d say it is worth the price of admission. of $19.99.
I hesitate to recommend it for $29.99 on the PlayStation 4 but that version does offer VR support. That’s not for me personally, but if you like VR, perhaps the extra dough is worth it.
(After writing this review the PlayStation 4 version dropped in price to match the other platforms at $19.99)
- Decent replay value with mission variety and a changing relationship with contestants
- Controlling the airship is complex and fun
- Nails the reality show feel with the player forging friendships and rivalries.
- The art style looks crisp and beautiful
- Difficulty settings present.
- No ship progression at all
- Can feel a little shallow
- A little pricey on certain platforms if you aren’t interested in VR.