Blood Dragon is a hilarious, loud and mindlessly fun expansion that hits all the right notes.
An 80s aesthetic, references to 8-bit games and action movies, neon-soaked environments and an action hero who never takes himself too seriously. If I told you that those are the main qualities of a Far Cry game, you probably wouldn’t believe it, but that’s the case with Blood Dragon, a stand-alone expansion to Far Cry 3 that gameplay and graphics engine aside, deviates from the main game in some exciting ways. Blood Dragon is a hilarious, loud and mindlessly fun expansion that hits all the right notes. It may not be the Far Cry we’re used to, but that doesn’t make it any less fun to play.
Blood Dragon puts you in the shoes of a cyborg who needs to complete a series of missions to defend America… or something: he’s patriotic, dumb, funny, powerful and he’s not afraid of using his arsenal of weapons to defeat anyone or anything that gets in his way. After completing one of the best tutorials to ever grace a video game (this initial portion of the game pokes fun of the genre in some creative ways,) you can start playing missions or exploring the open world. As part of the main missions, you infiltrate inside enemy bases, use stealth, plant C4 in dams, lure vicious beasts known as Blood Dragons to kill everyone for you, rescue scientists, distract enemies using twenty-sided die and so on. As you’d expect in a Far Cry game, there are some additional bonus missions that shake things up and grant you access to better equipment and weaponry.
But despite its modern structure, Blood Dragon is enamored with 80s media. All the custscenes resemble 8-bit games like Contra or Ninja Gaiden, there are references to classic action movies (like Terminator or Karate Kid,) you find VHS tapes and so on. But the best part about Blood Dragon is the game’s tongue-in-cheek style, so there are puns, a plot that only exists as an excuse for you to shoot things, a protagonist who hates tutorials and video game conventions and this self-aware and fourth-wall-breaking tone permeates every aspect of the expansion.
It may look and sound a bit different, but gameplay-wise Blood Dragon plays exactly like Far Cry 3. Luckily, new weapons and accessories make it different enough to give it a new identity. One of those includes how health is treated. As you explore the flamboyant island, you find health packs that restore your life entirely, but when you run out of them, you hold the Y button to restore small chunks of your health and you see the protagonist remove bullets, pull out a screwdriver and use it on his mechanical arms and so on. This lighthearted approach is reflected in the game’s humor, story, characters, visuals and gameplay, making Blood Dragon just fun to play.
Blood Dragon is hilarious and ultimately, that’s its best quality. It’s great that it pokes fun of other media, but this expansion is at its best when it makes fun of itself. Of course, it helps that it plays so well, its visual style makes it unique, the new enemies (especially the titular Blood Dragons) add variety and I could go on and on. This is the kind of game you can finish in one or two sittings, but I’m sure you’ll come back for more. Maybe it’ll be for the bonus missions, the unlockable weapons, weapon mods, to kill new enemies or to explore the 80s-inspired setting, but Blood Dragon is a game that pulls you in and doesn’t let you get away that easily.