Grand Prize In The Skies
HIGH Solid airship combat where choices matter.
LOW The orb enemies I have to shoot with a pistol.
WTF Why am I collecting sky squid eggs again?
I’ve always wanted to be on a game show. The chance to test my skills against others for riches and prizes is a rare opportunity. While I may not be able to do it in the real world, Tribetoy’s Bow to Blood: Last Captain Standing gets me close.
Bow to Blood is a roguelike actioner focused on an airship combat contest. Players take control of a fresh challenger who will be required to think on their feet and adapt to obstacles in order to earn points and eventually become champion.
As the competition goes on, players will have a chance to interact with opponents, and after each round, one of the two captains with the lowest point totals will be voted out, slowly whittling down the pool of contestants. Each run is its own campaign — the opponents don’t change, but the players might get a different set of missions or have different interactions with opponents.
Flying the airship can be a bit daunting. Players take the helm in first person and steer through aerial combat arenas and shoot broadside cannons or a front-facing laser turret. Players also control when to raise shields and when to use an engine boost to escape fights or dodge incoming fire.
If this sounds like a lot to mange, it’s lucky the player has two AI assistants who can be placed on the ship’s systems. Placing one on the shield station will make shields regenerate faster and be stronger when using them, or placing AI in the front turret lets them shoot anything that comes near. In a pinch, players can have an AI fix systems mid-battle if critical components of the ship need to be patched up.
While AI assistants help, the visual noise of dogfighting with enemy ships means that Bow to Blood sometimes fails at telling the player when enemy drones are attacking. Drones invade the deck of the ship, and the player must shoot them with their pistol, taking their attention away from vital stations. Missing these drones will incur systems damage, and players will need to be quick on their feet to restore the ship to full working order.
Past the combat, Bow to Blood puts much emphasis on on choice and reputation. between rounds of flight, players are presented with choices like whether to give an opponent a cache of points to make them friendlier and more willing to assist later, or antagonizing them by making them fight an extra set of enemies.
Choices like this are key because the player may find themselves in an arena with that opponent, both fighting waves of enemies. Players can choose to leave after any round and take half of the accumulated points, or the full amount of points if both player and opponent work together for all four rounds. The quality of the relationship can alter how many rounds they remain and fight, and the effort I put into cozying up to one competitor allowed me to survive and get to the final match of the entire competition.
Visually, I noticed some blurry edges around the screen, which may be due to the VR integration. While not required to play Bow to Blood, I suspect that it would benefit from it. However, I didn’t have an opportunity to try the VR mode to confirm it.
Aside from the occasional lack of communication and visual blurriness, I enjoyed my time in the arena. It’s refreshing to see an action title where the choices players make have a significant effect, and each playthrough brings new interactions and scenarios for players to test their skills. It might not be The Price is Right, but Bow to Blood: Last Captain Standing is a virtual competition worth entering.
Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Tribetoy. It is currently available on PC, Switch, PS4, and XBO.This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4. Approximately 8 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T and contains Violence. The game is just ship-to-ship combat. Things explode in glorious fashion, but no humans are killed in the process
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Much of the game’s text is voiced, but the game does not include subtitles for all instances of voice. Interactions that the player will have with the other competitors will be in text boxes, but text is not resizable. There will be occasions where the announcer will tell you what to do in the scenario, and while some are more straightforward than others (go to waypoints and shoot things) it could be confusing for those who can’t hear the directions. There are some visual aids, but they aren’t perfect. This game is not fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: Controls are not remappable.
While Sonic and Street Fighter were great places to start, his first love was Final Fantasy X when his dad bought a PS2. Ever since, that love for gaming has evolved -- there are a number of game worlds out there, and he intends to explore them all. RPG to horror, platformers to casual and everything in between -- if it’s available, he’ll play it.
While his time is short between writing reviews, tabletop gaming, and attempting to start a cheesecake business, he has caught all 806 pokemon and can speedrun Star Fox 64 in less than 40 minutes. He’s always looking for new things to try and new challenges to conquer. You can find him on Twitter -- @eugene_sax.