Fresh Blood is available on Steam. Joseph Pugh conducted this review.
Mortal Glory is a tactical turn-based roguelike about gladiatorial combat. Fresh Blood expands on the base game, and if you’re curious about it, you can read my review of Mortal Glory. (Spoiler alert, it’s really good).
Fresh Blood is a straight content drop to the game, introducing a new mode, races, items, skills, and more. While Fresh Blood features a new career mode, most of the content still translates cleanly to the original standard and endless modes.
Expanding the Arena
Fresh Blood expands upon the original game in nearly every way. Five new races get added to the rosters of poor saps you will force to fight to their deaths.
The large bump in race selection immediately helps to enhance the game’s variety, especially since you aren’t allowed to take more than one of any race into a fight. The expanded roster allows you to hone your teams set up much more easily than before.
Like the base game, I appreciate the races are a mixture of the familiar and the esoteric. Dwarves enter the fray alongside Slitherers, which are reminiscent of Illithids if you are in the know.
Races heavily influence stat distribution in the game and generally come with some kind of perk or boon. The catlike Prowlers, for example, have a skill that lets them utilize excess action points. It’s meant to be an in-game representation of their speed and agility, and it’s really clever.
A similar theme permeates everything added in Fresh Blood. The solo developer of the game did a great job of adding new, interesting, and useful features, such as a skill that utilizes nearby blood piles for extra damage.
The addition of Bows change the rules of the game a bit. Weapons don’t generally add skills in Mortal Glory. But equipping a bow changes how a gladiator fights and always comes with one bow skill. You can teach them additional bow skills through spell-books like normal. Bow skills can only be used with a bow. Bows have range, obviously, and they take penalties up close.
Furthermore, they use the Agility stat to determine damage. This means that game has three outlets for offensive power, Strength for physical, Agility for bows, and Wisdom for magic. This further expands your options and makes the more agile races more useful.
Fresh Blood also adds a bunch of new items, perks, skills, and events. One of my few complaints in Mortal Glory was how frequently the events repeated, that still happens unfortunately, but less so. Mortal Glory was already a great game, and Fresh Blood takes a pile of goodies and pours it in with reckless abandon. Much like how I put creamer in my coffee.
The other large addition is the Career mode, which gives you a new way to play. In the standard mode, you fight whatever the next round holds for you, and if you lose two matches, that’s it. In Career mode, you have much more choice, and you only lose when you’re unable to afford your gladiators wages. Though your fighters can still die.
Every round you are given a choice of three matches that have various rewards, rules, and contenders. You can pay gold to get a sneak peek at them and pay more to sabotage them. This choice gives you a ton of freedom in how you want to progress through the championship and allows you to weigh the scales of risk versus reward.
The emperors’ demands and desires still make an appearance in Career mode, but matches can also be dictated by special rules. For example, there might be a rule that forces both teams to take every gladiator’s turn at once, rather than back and forth.
Losing means fewer rewards, but not a game over. You can eventually win and end Career mode, but it has much more room for setbacks and failures. Career mode is a great addition and my preferred way to play now, yet it doesn’t replace the standard or endless mode. They all have merits, and that’s great, options are good.
Fresh Blood builds upon the base games rock-solid foundation, While it doesn’t wildly alter how the game it plays, it does enhance it in a multitude of ways.
Everything Fresh Blood adds expands the games variety. Mortal Glory relies on its variety of items, races, skills, and events heavily to make each play-through different from the last. You can’t go wrong by adding Fresh Blood to your Mortal Glory experience.
It retains the base games few flaws if you can even call them that, the repetitive events and number crunching. But they really don’t impact the enjoyment that much. Quality of life updates outside of the DLC have gone a long way to aid in the mathematics reliance anyway.
Mortal Glory is a great tactical turn-based gladiator game, and Fresh Blood expands on it in every way with more variety added to nearly every respect. The new Career mode is a ton of fun with much more player agency than the standard mode, and frankly, the game and DLC are cheap. Go get them.
A copy of Fresh Blood was provided for Gideon’s Gaming by Redbeak Games for the purpose of review.
You might also be interested in checking out my review of Crown Trick.
- New races are a mix of familiar and fresh while expanding your roster options
- Bows are a great new weapon type that gives agility based character offensive options
- Career mode is well implemented and offers players a way to play with more agency
- Additional skills, items, perks, and events are welcome additions to the game
- The random events still feel repetitive and predictable