Games Workshop has been giving the licenses to their old games out like candy at Halloween and while the Focus Home sinks their teeth into Blood Bowl, Necromunda, and Battlefleet Gothic, others have to make do with the obscurer stuff.
Personally, I have an up and down relationship with Games Workshop content. Some games, like the Dawn of War series I have genuinely loved. Others… well… not so much. And usually the deciding factor is how much of a cash grab is it?
Thankfully, Dark Future: Blood Red States feels like a game made with genuine enthusiasm for the source material.
The original Dark Future was essentially a Mad Max style world in which war and greed brought the world to its knees, leaving only ruthless gangs, corporations, and miles upon miles of strangely well kept roads.
Blood Red States doesn’t fall into the usual nostalgia trap though and has made good decisions to digitise the original miniatures game. Featuring a real-time command system, you control your enforcers as you undertake missions for various corporate or governmental groups, all while the price of gas gradually rises.
Each level is essentially an endless road with various twists and turns and the occasional scenery change. Driving is incredibly simple as your car always follows the road with excellent lane detection, only requiring you to choose which lane to follow and what speed to go. However, as gang cars catch up, you have to make clever use of your forward weapon, turret, and rear weapon to take them out. As well as proper manoeuvring, boosting, and braking to avoid giving them a clear shot at you.
And when this all goes well, speeding along at 160mph, the action going into slow motion as you pan the battlefield as you enter your commands, seeing enemy cars explode and crash into each other in true Michael Bay fashion, Blood Red States is fun.
However, in my time with it, it rarely unfolds like that. Some enemy cars seem to want to stay behind you no matter what’s happening, leading to the most fuel efficient chase ever witnessed as we both end up coming to a complete stop and firing our turrets at each other. In one gang war mission, my allied car refused to move until the enemy car that was currently struggling to get out from behind some rubble, got back on the road. Assumedly this was out of some sort of gentlemanly code of conduct from the original game that I’m not aware of.
The missions themselves are straight forward enough (get it, cause you can only drive forward). Go here, kill a bunch of people. Go here, stay near a truck to steal data. Go here, kill a bunch of people to lure out one special person and kill them. Go here, kill a bunch of people while not letting these other people die (although, it never told me which one was which…).
The goal is to keep completing missions so you can afford gas in order to complete missions. Using what spare cash you’ve got to buy new items and upgrade your car.
Where Blood Red States gets its challenge from is that, excluding the starting vehicle/character, it has permadeath. Get blown up in a mission and it’s all over. You still keep certain unlocks like perks (unlocked by completing a standard variant of a character) and reputation items (unlocked by completing corporation specific missions) but that seems to be the extent of it.
If you’re a fan of the original Dark Future you’ll likely get a kick out of the references and humour which feels a little Fallout 1-ish. But sadly, I didn’t find much in this to get excited about. It’s mostly functional and if you’re a fan of vehicular violence, then perhaps it’ll be right up your street.
You can find Dark Future: Blood Red States on Steam HERE