Friday 19 May 2023

BloodNet – Grant's Tomb

Written by Will Moczarski

Finally I did it. I survived the fixed encounter in Grant’s Tomb and am free to explore the colourful world of BloodNet once more. Because it took me about 6.5 hours of pure game time (not counting thinking up new tactics, buying new weapons, recruiting new party members and generally bumbling about to find out if it's possible to skip the encounter altogether) just to win this one encounter you might rightfully say I’m pretty bad at RPGs. Still the spike in difficulty was unprecedented and quite surprising. None of the combat in the game up to this point had even been challenging. It just didn’t seem to matter where I placed my guys and which weapons I used as long as I used the expensive ones. Also, I had very good armour going into Grant’s Tomb, a rested party of six, freshly bonded and blessed soul blades, and some of the best recruits you can add to your party altogether. 

I re-equipped the party a lot of times. 

Disclaimer: My screen capturing program stopped working sometime between updates which is why I don’t have any original footage either of my failed attempts or of my first successful run. What you see are low-quality (don’t ask me why, that’s a whole other story…) screenshots of my reconstruction of the fight. Fortunately my tactic was solid and I managed to survive Grant’s Tomb yet again after the first time. 

Abraham comes flying from the ceiling right before the battle.

And of course there's always time for some trash talk.

If you keep Melissa Van Helsing in your party she will (predictably) switch sides as soon as you enter the fight with her father and his thugs. Because of that I kicked her out of the party before entering Grant’s Tomb. I wonder if I can re-hire her after killing Abraham? 

I also experimented with aiming at different body parts. 
Going after both legs (or arms) first seems to be a viable strategy. 

After hours of trying and failing I used a more controlled approach. I played sessions of five deaths each, restoring my ‘perfect savegame’ four times. I fiddled around with the positioning of the party members but I almost made it so many times that I thought I must have been on the right track and RNG was my worst enemy. 

I finally used Max Bax as the human tank he was. 

In Grant’s Tomb you go up against one vampire and three thugs. It sounds harmless but the thugs are really tough. One thing that happened over and over again was that Ransom (the main character) died quite early in the fight, ending the game right away. After a while I found out that it was a good idea to have a ‘bodyguard’ nearby to protect Ransom from the thug on the right side of the screen. I usually picked Monique St. Clair because of her agility rating. After some more attempts I managed both to kill Abraham Van Helsing (with a blessed soul blade) and to protect Ransom long enough to do away with both of the thugs on the left side of the screen. But the other guy’s armour just absorbed everything, and when I tried to move my guys over to him in order to shoot him point blank he always managed to kill either Ransom or everybody else. 

Positioning is very important. It never had been in any of the fights up until this one.

I even tried to keep Ransom in the background but some strange automatic movement “feature” always overruled my decision, and Ransom would attack anyway as if he suddenly didn’t care about my orders anymore. Max Bax had the highest level of faith which is why I used him to go after Abraham for a while but Ransom is much more effective for this.

I also experimented with different combat styles: free combat, acquire target etc.

Finally I found out that the weapons I had preferred up to this point (shotguns and flame throwers mostly) didn’t work as well as they could against the thugs. Shotguns had to be reloaded quite frequently (every two shots, obviously), and the flame throwers broke down way too often. Also, they didn’t hurt the thugs on the left side as much as I would have wanted them to. 

The damage report is essential because your party may keep on attacking an already "dead" body part if you don't tell them otherwise. Also, it can clue you in on whether your tactic is working.

The solution for me was to have Ransom attack Van Helsing at close range (with the blessed soul blade and the stake), place four party members on the left side to go after the two thugs with laser rifles (the odds were all right because my guys had kevlar helmets and coveralls, absorbing most of the thugs’ own laser shots), and – this was the final piece of the puzzle – place Max Bax very close to the thug on the right side in order to put him down at short range with his sawed-off shotgun. I still lost one party member (Monique, I think) but it was only one and it was not Ransom. [As you can see on the screenshots, I lost three party members on the second attempt.]

You can't imagine my relief.

Now if the game had taught me how to fight properly by slowly increasing the challenge and introducing some of the mechanics necessary to survive the encounter at Grant’s Tomb I might have had a better idea about what I should or could have been doing. As it was, the game just threw three or four necessary but laughably easy fights at me before going all in at Grant’s Tomb. I had never bothered to learn how combat works in this game and would not have thought that it was even possible to be this nuanced. 

When a party member dies one of the survivors usually offers a short obituary.

After the fact I kind of like the idea that combat works sort of like a puzzle, too. Maybe it’s even the most puzzle-like element of the game so far. The difficulty curve is still ridiculous, preventing the player from learning how to fight before swamping him with a tough challenge. 

Oh, and I freed this guy. I almost forgot.

That said, I think I may be up to the task of finishing the game after all. I had almost finished writing a request for assistance. Also, some people suggested I should just cheat. I’m happy that I didn’t even if it stalled my playthrough somewhat. Sorry for the long wait!

Van Helsing is alive?! Oh no! And there's another fight waiting.

Grant’s Tomb was too intense an experience to bury it in the next (possibly the final?) post about BloodNet which is why I decided to turn it into a short post. I don’t know if most players just gave up altogether when they got here, or if I was just too stupid to recognize the information necessary to win that fight a lot earlier. Whatever the case: I’m back.

My party before the fight. Alas, poor Max, Kyle, and Lash.

Session time: 9 hours
Total time: 24 hours


  1. Good to see you back at it. This sort of thing would have had me abandoning the game, well done for getting through it. I hope it was worth the time!

    1. Thank you, Matt! I probably wouldn't have persevered if it weren't for the blog. And I think it was worth the time because I had really enjoyed the game up to this point and am quite curious how the story will end.

  2. An entire post about just one fight. Yeah, that sounds about right? Why do you think that despite the amazing game world and setting this game has no one really recommending this game? Because the RPG aspect of the game is just that annoying to deal with.

    1. I always rather enjoy it when Chet or Jason Dyer (and let's not forget Carl Muckenhoupt who's also brilliant at this) interrupt their regular playthrough and talk about some game mechanics or a particular situation in-depth so I thought this might be a good occasion to try it out for our blog, too.

      Furthermore, I don't think that the RPG aspect is that annoying. It's just that you never really learn how it works. I can imagine that someone like Chet who had ploughed through hundreds of RPGs, many of them without any kind of documentation, previously would obviously be able to crack the code a lot sooner. But my main problem here was that the game simply doesn't teach you how to fight. At all. Combat is trivial up to this point and then suddenly you need to know all about it. I'm already stuck in the next fight (the room Tennant told me about) but this time it feels like I'm prepared. I have options, whereas Grant's Tomb hit me like a bus.

      I'd chalk it up to a lack of playtesting or time. I agree with you that BloodNet is a game with a lot of promise and a fascinating premise but it feels unfinished. After I'm done with it I'll try to find some interviews with the creators to see if I can confirm that suspicion.

    2. At the CRPG the word that was seen a lot is "overambitious", and it does feel that way. Too many mechanics, most of them unused. Combat feels like it was finally implemented but too late to do any sort of balancing or ramping up of difficulty. The hunger meter is useful at the start and then just...fades away when you get an easy access source. They could have taken out half the character traits and ended up with a better game.

    3. That sounds pretty accurate, Shaddam. It's a flawed game but still not a bad game. Is it a good game? I would have said "yes" despite all of its flaws but the endgame was really ridiculous. You'll hear all about it soon (at least from my perspective, you may have already read about it elsewhere, of course). I will refrain from reading the Addict's final posts until I've come up with a first draft for the final rating lest I be swayed by his opinion.

  3. I just beat the game! Expect a WON! post soon!

    1. ThatSpanishAnonymousWhoLovesCoktelVision23 May 2023 at 07:18

      If Veil of Darkness is abandoned by its current reviewer, you would be my choice to take on that beast. Good job!

    2. Cheers, TSAWLCV! It's much appreciated! I do have another main game coming up right after this one (Pepper's Adventures in Time) so it doesn't seem likely at this point. Also, Zenic is still playing "Veil" as far as I'm concerned. The game would have to be made available for another reviewer first.

    3. Related to "Veil of Darkness" (and "The Summoning"), it seems that it is coming in the near future to GOG.

    4. And also to Steam!

    5. 👀 I've still never actually finished The Summoning (especially back in the 90s when it was hard to find hints/walkthroughs; but even with tools like a saved game editor I still usually wind up getting fatigued partway through and abandoning it) but I still have a real soft spot for it and pick it up now and again. I think I currently have it running with DOSBox, but it's always handy to have a premade setup that you know works properly.

    6. Thanks for the heads up, Agrivar!

      Lisa, tbh I've never heard of The Summoning. Why wasn't it on our list for 1992? I reckon it is not an adventure game at all?

    7. @Will it's an RPG. There are some "puzzles" in the form of things like "interpret a written clue and put rocks on the right pressure plates to make something happen" but that's about it.

    8. If someone is interested in a playthrough and review of "The Summoning", it was already done in the Crpgaddict blog! He also did a brief article about "Veil of Darkness", but he rejected it for not being a true RPG (an opinion which I share, just as "The Summoning" it is not a true adventure game).

  4. Congrats on clearing the fight. I always find it very satisfying to have to think and change up my tactics and strategy, and then see appreciable results for having done so. Be it an action game like Dark Souls or an RPG like Baldur's Gate. However, the frustration at sudden difficulty spikes is understandable.

    1. Thanks, Anon! Yes, I feel the same way about a good fight but the game led me to believe I wouldn't encounter fights like this for a long time. (Spoiler: It's the first and last of those, too.)