Bow to Blood: Last Captain Standing (Xbox One) Review

By Josh Di Falco 12.04.2020

Review for Bow to Blood: Last Captain Standing on Xbox One

Bow to Blood was originally a VR title for the PlayStation 4, which was then ported across to the Xbox One by the developer, Tribetoy. Subtitled Last Captain Standing, Bow to Blood features a truly unique premise that combines a sci-fi future where eight airship captains and their crew partakes in a game similar to the popular reality show, Survivor. Compete in challenges against other competitors, and score enough points to avoid finishing in the bottom of the rankings and facing possible elimination. So, how does this title transition to a standard console experience from the virtual reality predecessor?

The concept of Bow to Blood works extremely well. The premise of this universe is set in a future that is reminiscent of The Hunger Games, where crews enter their ships into a survival game that is broadcasted to the rest of the world. The tournament is presented by a charismatic host who acts as a cheery face of the competition that's perfectly juxtaposed against the sinister underside of the competition. The presentation of the tournament is done very well - and it generates enough excitement from the tournaments opening day.

So, what is Bow to Blood: Last Captain Standing? The main premise is that eight captains enter into a tournament, where they field their ship and their crew to compete against others. Every round, two competitors get paired against each other to fly around a stage and complete missions to score points. At the conclusion of reach round, the bottom two captains are up for elimination, which is then voted on by the remaining captains. This means that being on the bottom with the least amount of points doesn't necessarily equate to being eliminated. If the captain has made friends with some of the voting captains, they may opt to vote out the opposing captain instead. Basically, Bow to Blood: Last Captain Standing has two separate games that require mastering: the physical ship-combat games as well as engaging in player-politics to remain in the game.

Screenshot for Bow to Blood: Last Captain Standing on Xbox One

The player politics is en engaging aspect that allows the captains to get personal "behind the scenes." While the ships that compete get broadcast to the fictional audiences at home, the politicking between the captains plays out when the cameras aren't rolling. Ultimately, these sequences play out with a couple of lines of dialogue that end with the option of two responses. Generally, these options are a 'good' and a 'bad' response that affects the player-captains' standings with that particular captain who they've engaged in conversation with. As Bow to Blood: Last Captain Standing progresses deeper into the tournament, alliances will be tested as new partnerships may form after throwing previous alliance members under the bus.

The biggest downside to Bow to Blood: Last Captain Standing is that the VR controls have not transitioned well to controller-only. Where playing this in VR might have yielded more positive results and smoother gameplay, playing with a controller feels very clunky and unnatural. From the camera rotation, to moving the ship and flying around such colourful and bright stages, the overall control scheme makes for a sluggish, wonky and arduous experience. It's obvious that Bow to Blood: Last Captain Standing wasn't built for console use, and that it's clearly a port from VR. It's a shame, because the stages are wonderful futuristic vistas and exploring all the secrets, and what they have to offer is a fun journey. The colour schemes vary: some stages are bright with yellows and oranges, while other stages are quite darker with the purple and greys. However, the detail is limited to mere shapes and outlines of the stage.

Maneuvering the ship through a level is a slow affair, and it isn't as fun as it could've been. Rather than zigzagging through space, these ships are similar to pirate ships that turn around very slowly, which can be frustrating if the ship is under attack by smaller and more nimble enemies, as turning the ship around to escape can be a slow struggle. Sure, this is probably more realistic - but it doesn't necessarily make it enjoyable. Engaging into air-combat is obtuse, and considering the amount of ranking points that can be gotten by partaking in these battles, the slow battles can't really be avoided.

Screenshot for Bow to Blood: Last Captain Standing on Xbox One

What makes controlling the ship fun is the micromanagement of the crew. There are different areas of the ship that need attention. Sometimes, turning on the shields are required to deflect enemy attacks, while boosting the speed of the ship may be required other times. In total, there are five sections of the ship that can be turned on, and there are only two crew members. So, at one time, only two of the five options can be turned on - and quick decisions need to be made mid-battle to determine which sections get priority over others.

Matches involves completing various tasks to earn more points than the opponent, such as mining resources, collecting a certain item or gunning down a bunch of neutral enemies. Completing the initial mission opens up a portal to end the stage - however, the controlled captain can decide to remain in the stage for longer to earn more points from the optional missions. However, note that any damage the ship has sustained will carry over to the next match. At the end of each day, after the elimination has happened, the ship is repaired for the next day.

Screenshot for Bow to Blood: Last Captain Standing on Xbox One

Playing through a tournament doesn't take very long - a run from start to finish can take just under four hours to do. However, it's extremely difficult to do so - oftentimes one mishap, or making a poor choice with an alliance member can derail the tournament, and result in being eliminated. For example, having enough points at the end of each round to avoid elimination can go up in flames due to making a bad decision or forming a poor alliance. However, playing politics doesn't venture any deeper than that - do wrong by someone and they'll be the enemy, or do right by someone and make them a friend.

This portion of surviving is limited as the controlled captain cannot approach the opposing captains. At the end of each "match," a random captain will make contact instead, and finish with an option to either befriend them or not. On the surface this works well, but the possibilities of what could've been if the developer had decided to go deeper into this system could've helped set-up even more complex relationships and double-crosses, similar to what is found on the hit show, Survivor.

The stages are randomised, so each tournament play-through throws up different levels, different events, and even varying opponents. However, these do little to ensure that each experience is vastly different to the previous one - and after 10 or so hours, Bow to Blood: Last Captain Standing does become very repetitive. However, it does offer up some exciting moments during the first few hours that makes Bow to Blood: Last Captain Standing a memorable experience, at least until the slow mechanics become increasingly frustrating.

Screenshot for Bow to Blood: Last Captain Standing on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Bow to Blood: Last Captain Standing is a great concept that could've used with a bit more time in the oven to knuckle down the controls a little better. The slow and cumbersome movements don't make for an excitingly adventure. However, the idea of playing a futuristic version of Survivor, by competing against opponents, forming alliances, and then double-crossing other captains to vote them out of the game, makes for an enthralling few hours. For those who are in need of a bit of time to kill with a different type of a video game, then Bow to Blood: Last Captain Standing may be worth checking out.

Developer

Tribetoy Inc.

Publisher

Tribetoy Inc.

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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