Bloodnet, from 1993, is one of the games that’s spent the most time on my Stack. Before there even was a Stack, really, there was always just a game or two that I hadn’t finished yet, and then Bloodnet, that one game that I had bought a few years back and never got very far in but intended to get back to at some point.

It’s one of the few point-and-click adventure games from Microprose, which also produced Dragonsphere and Return of the Phantom, both of which I rather liked, and Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender, which I haven’t played and am not at all sure I want to. These games all share a certain graphical similarity, a sort of soft-focus VGA collage, that made me think that Bloodnet would play like the others, but it doesn’t. It’s a mashup in both form and content, a hybrid of point-and-click adventure and RPG telling a cyberpunk vampire story. It’s kind of like if Shadowrun had chosen to imitate White Wolf instead of TSR.

At the start of the story, a freelance decker with the unlikely name Ransom Stark is (sigh) betrayed by a client, but rather than just trying to kill him like in a normal cyberpunk game, the client turns out to be a vampire, and tries to turn Stark into his vampire thrall. But his attempt at domination is thwarted by Stark’s neural implant, leaving Stark in control of himself but vulnerable to a bloodlust that will erode his humanity over time if he can’t do something about it. All this is told in an opening slideshow/dialogue sequence that I remember finding cringingly, embarrassingly bad once, but which now strikes me as utterly hilarious. You could put this stuff on Hypnospace. It would fit right in.

The main reason I never got far is that the game throws you into the deep end. It has a very weird UI, a whole cyber-upgrade system to learn, and a baffling cyberspace where you have no idea how to interact with anything. That’s just in the first room. If you try to leave the first room, you’ll probably run into a combat encounter that you’re not at all prepared to deal with, as character or as player. I’ll probably describe all these systems in future posts, once I’ve come to understand them. Reading the manual will be very necessary.

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