Video Game: Blood

Our "hero"
Caleb, Blood
"Looks like there's killing to do..."
Caleb, Blood II: The Chosen

In a region renowned for cruelty, Caleb was legendary. Born in western Texas in 1847, he got a reputation of a merciless gunfighter by the age of 17. His bloodthirstiness got on a menacing new timbre when he entered the Cult of Tchernobog. But the real massacre started when he was betrayed and discarded by his master, the Dark God Tchernobog himself...

A 1997 First-Person Shooter from Monolith Productions, based on the Build engine, Blood was one of the most unusual shooters of its time. It featured a mix of horror and deadpan humor, a charismatic Anti-Hero, an arsenal of exotic weapons and, of course, lots and lots of the eponymous red liquid. Playing as Caleb, a former pet murderer of an evil deity who was betrayed and transformed into an undead monstrosity, you go on a quest to avenge/harvest the powers of your former True Companions who did not manage to rise again and use them to wreak all kinds of unholy hell upon Tchernobog.

In 1998, a sequel was created; Blood II: The Chosen. Running on the new LithTech engine developed in-house by Monolith, it took place exactly one century after the first game, featuring the Cabal's attempts to kill Caleb and take back the powers of Tchernobog, while Caleb's disuse of the dark god's powers accidentally summons abominations from another dimension. It was critically received as lacking the spirit or fun of the original game.

Both games and their expansions can now be purchased digitally from and Steam.

For tropes about blood, see Bloody Tropes.

Tropes featured in this series:

  • Abnormal Ammo: From the relatively-speaking mundane (pesticide grenades on the M16's attached grenade launcher in Blood II) to the freaky (trapped souls for the Life Leech in the first).
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: "Ooh, what a wonderful smell I've discovered."
  • Aerosol Flamethrower: One of the weapons is a spray can, which can be combined with Caleb's trusty lighter for this effect, or lit on fire and thrown as an impromptu bomb.
  • Amusement Park of Doom: The secret level of the first episode, "House of Horrors", complete with a "fun" ride on a water slide, and caged enemies.
  • Anachronism Stew: For The Nightmare Levels expansion, Monolith had apparently completely forgotten the Chosen were originally from the 19th century. For that matter, guessing when these games take place is a chore — Blood II implies that Blood started out around 1928, but the presence of wall switches and outlets, jukeboxes and many other "modern" items stick out, plus the "Farewell To Arms" levels, that seems to take place during World War II.
    • Cryptic Passage takes place in the Carpathian Mountains of Europe... except that every sign you see is in English, and your trek down a river is on a Mississippi Queen style riverboat. And again, evidence suggests the expansion is set in the 1930s but the technology seen(small communication radios, a motorized speedboat) is too recent for that.
    • Caleb uses an aerosol can and a Zippo lighter as weapons in the first game, even though neither existed in the 1920's.
  • And I Must Scream: The Soul Drudges in the second game are living humans whose bodies are controlled by Bone Leeches but who are still conscious and aware of what they're doing. The leech forces its host to sew its mouth shut to keep it from screaming.
  • Attract Mode: there's a couple of demos playing on the title screen.
  • BFG: Originally, the Tesla Cannon and the Life Leech were the 8-inch cannons of Blood. The expansion pack added an alternate fire mode to the Incinerator that made it into the new, ultimate BFG of Blood. Blood II added a new, literal BFG: the Singularity Generator.
  • Badass: All four of the Chosen, most especially Caleb.
  • Ballistic Bone: Gargoyles fling them at you for a ranged attack.
  • Batman Gambit: Tchernobog fully intended for Caleb to return from the grave and seek vengeance, gaining power with each kill he made along the way. The intent was to then take over Caleb's body and use the new power to take over all realities, though this fails when Caleb kills him. Gideon was supposed to have his own gambit in Blood 2, but most of that that subplot beyond "kill Caleb" was cut before the game's release.
  • Big Bad: In Blood, Tchernobog. Blood II has Gideon, though he's not the final boss.
  • Black and Gray Morality: More like Black and Blacker Morality. Caleb is only the "hero" because he's trying to avenge his fallen comrades and not trying to take over the world.
  • Black and White Morality: Spectacularly averted, in contrast to many first person shooters.
  • Black Speech: the language of the Cabal, Domus Durbentia. It's a nasty-sounding bastard child of Latin and Sanskrit. In the first game, all cultists speak it, and you also hear ominous chanting in this language. In Blood II, only the Zealots and Ishmael still remember the language, though you occasionally can hear a (normally English-speaking) Fanatic spouting a familiar curse.
  • Blood Bath: A magazine ad for the game featured a man, presumably Caleb, in a bathtub full of blood with this tagline:
    Blood? You're soaking in it.
  • Bloody Handprint: On the game's box.
  • Blood Knight: Caleb definitely, Gabriel/Gabriella is also said to be one.
  • Boss Rush: Blood makes you re-fight the earlier bosses before Tchernobog finally shows himself. Blood II makes you fight undead versions of the other three Chosen before fighting the Ancient One.
  • Bottomless Magazines: The only weapon with an actual reload animation is the sawed-off shotgun, and even then said animation is skipped entirely in the first game when you have the Guns Akimbo powerup.
  • Call Back: Blood II features ringing telephones that you can answer. One phone in the third level does the same Hugh Jass joke a phone in the third level of the first game did. An elevator in the first chapter also has elevator music remixed from the secret level of Blood's last retail episode.
  • Cast from Hit Points: The Life Leech in Blood 1 would use HP as ammo if you run out of trapped souls.
  • Cherry Tapping: The pitchfork. Killing an opponent with it is sheer humiliation. Killing zombies with it is often necessary to save ammo.
  • Circus of Fear: The Dark Carnival levels in the first game, with the appropriate Creepy Circus Music (made especially creepy by the calls of the barkers and the laughter of children).
  • Cliff Hanger: The four Chosen are left in an alternate reality at the end of Blood II, and make no real progress towards getting out in the expansion. The end text for Blood II even lampshaded this:
    "Does Caleb really close the rift? Does Ophelia get her two-minutes of gift? What the heck happened to Gabriel... er, Gabriella? What if Ishmael can't get home? And, where did he get those tattoos? Tune in next time on: As 'It burns, it burns'. Enjoy these answers and more soon... we promise."
  • Copy And Paste Environments: The first chapter of Blood II goes all out with this, with a laundromat and the surrounding area from level 2 being revisited twice before the chapter is over (to the point that, during your first visit, you can use noclip to get through the secret door you leave through during the second and completely skip everything between). On top of that, Chapter 2 begins with basically the same map Chapter 1 did.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Considering CabalCo is essentially a public face for the evil, mystical cult of Tchernobog, Gideon couldn't be anything else.
  • Cult: The Cabal, the cult of Tchernobog.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Well, most of it is, but Tchernobog is technically a neutral force who assumes the personality traits of his host.
  • Dead Character Walking: Blood has a glitch where, on occasion, enemies who are killed by being set on fire would continue to run around in their on-fire animation indefinitely, unable to damage you but also invulnerable to everything but splash damage.
  • Dead Man's Trigger Finger: Cultists who burn to death fire off their tommyguns in a short burst while their burning flesh falls from their bones.
  • Dead Weight: Bloated Butchers.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Caleb, most definitely an undeadpan snarker.
  • Death Is Not Permanent: Ophelia, Ishmael, and Gabriel die alongside Caleb in Blood's intro. Caleb inexplicably comes back in the first game, and the other three are revived during the course of Blood II through use of the Singularity Generator. There's also Tchernobog, who due to the nature of his reincarnation, has died and come back at least 15 times before Caleb somehow permanently killed him.
  • Degraded Boss: The stone gargoyle, giant spider, and Cerberus are first introduced as end-episode bosses before becoming common enemies in later episodes.
  • Determinator: Even death didn't put Caleb down for good.
  • Didn't See That Coming: The Singularity Generator manages to be unpredictable enough that it revives the rest of the Chosen, even turning the first one from a man to a woman. Once the scientists who created it have it working the way it should, Caleb bursts in, kills them, and steals it.
  • Difficulty Levels: Unlike many other Build engine games, Blood 1's difficulty levels don't just determine the placements and amount of enemies on each map, they also determine various properties and the vitality of monsters.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Tchernobog in the first game, the Ancient One and Gideon's second form in the second.
  • Everyone Hates Mimes: "Ugh, I hate mimes."
  • Expansion Pack: Both games have seen one or two expansion packs after release.
    • Blood has Cryptic Passage and Plasma Pak. The former is a third-party expansion that adds a new "Cryptic Passage" episode and four multiplayer maps, while the latter adds another episode titled "Post Mortem" along with new multiplayer maps, new weapon modes, new enemies, and additional bug fixes.
    • Blood II: The Chosen has The Nightmare Levels expansion adds new single-player sequences, some extra multiplayer maps, extra options, new bug fixes.
  • Exploding Barrels: Literal barrels, filled with TNT.
  • Eye Beams: Stone gargoyles have them. Tchernobog has a different variant: he can set things in his line of sight on fire.
  • Evil Laugh: At least a third of Caleb's lines are various sinister laughs. He sometimes lets out a particularly awesome cackle when scoring a poly-kill.
  • The Faceless: Zealots in Blood II are this, by way of a Cool Mask which completely covers their heads, even the eyes. The game's manual suggests that they either no longer need their eyes to see, or the process of becoming a Zealot causes them to Go Mad from the Revelation and become afraid to see anything.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Gideon is reduced to nothing but his skull after he fights Caleb. At the beginning of the Nightmare Levels expansion it's revealed his soul was trapped within it. He's surprisingly not bitter about it, though, figuring he'll "serve as a muse to some unfortunate playwright" someday.
  • Fiery Redhead: Ophelia Price.
  • First-Person Peripheral Narrator: Gideon serves the role of this for the Nightmare Levels expansion.
  • Fish People: The Gill Beasts, amphibious sea monsters that are very fast and dangerous underwater, but become slow, bipedal walkers on land.
  • Flipping the Bird: When they spot you, the Hands in Blood II will gleefully stop, "stand" on their wrists and give you the one-finger salute.
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • A glitch in certain versions of Blood made it impossible to shake off Choking Hands once they've attached to you.
    • E4M5: Fire and Brimstone was also missing a key in one version of the game that prevented the player from finishing the level without cheats.
  • Gender Bender: Gabriel somehow gets brought back to life as a woman in Blood II.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom/Undeath: Even before their resurrection, all of the Chosen's eyes glowed a bright red.
  • Grand Theft Me: Tchernobog reincarnates by allowing someone to kill his current form and then taking over the body of the one who killed him. His new form often influences the direction the Cabal takes, such as a monk turning it into a religious cult. Somehow, Caleb doing exactly this only manages to give him the god's powers without the whole reincarnation bit.
  • The Grim Reaper: Phantasms, miniture Grim Reapers that are only vulnerable when they become corporeal. They often startle players by ambushing them with their persistent screaming and creepy smile.
  • Guns Akimbo: The first game featured it as a power-up that only worked for about a minute; the second game let you dual-wield certain weapons indefinitely by picking up a second one, at the cost of that weapon's alternate firing mode.
  • Hearts Are Health: When most enemies die, you can grab their hearts (or "life essence") and get 20 HP.
  • Hellhounds: Regular ones, and Cerberus. Both have fiery breath.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Still Kicking (easiest), Pink on the Inside, Lightly Broiled, Well Done, and Extra Crispy (hardest). The second game has Genocide (easy), Homicide (normal) and Suicide (hard).
  • I'm a Humanitarian: In the ending of the first game's second episode, Caleb tears out and eats the heart of his fallen comrade while paraphrasing the Bible.
  • Interface Screw: Hands and Bone Leeches will cause the screen to darken the longer they're latched on, simulating asphyxiation. Thieves and red spiders make the screen blurry and distorted, to the point where the HUD even lies to you about how much health and ammo you currently have. Green spiders make the screen flicker for a fraction of a second.
  • Kill It with Fire: Usually the best way to get rid of strong enemies like the Bloated Butcher. For that, Blood has the flare gun, the spray can and the napalm cannon. Blood II sees the return of all of these, with the exception of the spray can, which gets replaced by the Die Bug Die sprayer.
  • Kill It with Water: Hellhounds gargoyles die instantly if submerged in any liquid.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: There's a phone call in the second level of Blood II in which a lady asks "Mr. Cal-Eeb" if he is or has ever been a character in a video game. Caleb replies "You've gotta be kidding" and hangs up.
  • Legacy Character: "JoJo the Idiot Circus Boy", the main attraction of the first game's Dark Carnival. Ishmael in The Nightmare Levels states that he was once JoJo before he left and joined the Cabal.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: There are no good guys. On one hand you have a cult trying to summon a dark god, murdering anyone they want to and experimenting on the rest. On the other side you have one of their failed projects, a sadistic revenant named Caleb who was one of those cultists and also is murdering anyone he feels like. At least Caleb is fighting to avenge his wife and best friend and has a sense of humor.
  • Lightmare Fuel: The games can get genuinely scary. It doesn't stop Caleb from tossing one-liners, Shout Outs and cackling fits at almost everything, and making the player laugh in the process.
  • Lock and Key Puzzle: The game is chock full of them. Some levels have all six keys in them.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Subverted. Caleb had quite the taste for bloodshed long before he met Ophelia or that she died; she just added fuel to the fire.
    • Love Redeems: Caleb is initially only fighting the Cabal in Blood 2 because they keep preventing him from killing Gideon. His priority shifts to rescuing Ophelia once he learns she's being held at CabalCo's headquarters.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Plentiful. You can even attack the gibs.
  • MacGuffin: The backstory of the add-on Cryptic Passage has Caleb head out to find an ancient scroll, supposedly "capable of upsetting the balance of power in the otherworld". Not that it matters whatsoever what it is.
  • Made of Explodium: Even by GoldenEye-era FPS standards, some rather unusual things in 2 explode in a burst of flame when damaged enough, such as vending machines and refrigerators. This is, of course, assuming it's not a machine that bursts into Ludicrous Gibs when destroyed... or a corpse that explodes into a shower of metal parts.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: Starting point of the fourth episode. There's also a level late in Blood II that qualifies, if only because you get to kill the Mad Scientist in question and steal the BFG he's been working on.
  • Mana Meter: Focus in Blood II, used to power supernatural weapons like the voodoo doll, Life Leech and The Orb. Interestingly, this caused a common belief that the Orb did not have a Secondary Fire mode - it does, but it takes more Focus than Caleb actually has.
  • Man on Fire: The Flare Gun and Aerosol Flamethrower make Blood one of the masters of this trope.
  • Meaningful Name: Tchernobog (Чернобог) is a (German-style) rendering of the Russian for "Black God".
  • Mega Corp.: The Cabal becomes this between the two games, gaining control of pretty much everything on the planet.
  • Mistaken for Granite: There are gargoyle statues that sometimes turn into live gargoyles. Much Paranoia Fuel ensues when you realize even the ones that don't turn bleed when struck.
  • Mook Maker:
    • The Drudge Priest in Blood II sometimes spawns more Leeches as an attack.
    • The giant spiders in the first game spawn smaller spiders to attack for them, as they can't attack directly.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: Zombies. Lots of 'em.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Caleb is an immortal undead Old West gunslinger.
  • Nintendo Hard: The first game isn't very balanced in the damage department, with even the weakest of mooks dealing absurd amounts of damage. Don't feel bad about playing on the lowest difficulty setting your first time through. The second game is a little better, but the default difficulty is still equivalent to the Harder Than Hard difficulty of many other FPS games.
  • No Name Given: Of the four Chosen, only Ophelia's last name (Price) is made known.
  • Nostalgia Level: The expansion to Blood II begins with Cold, Cold Grave, which combines at least three levels from Blood's Episode 2.
  • Not Quite Dead: The axe zombies. If damage past a certain threshold, but not enough for a One-Hit Kill, is dealt to them, they'll just be knocked to the ground.
  • Obvious Beta: Sadly (or not), Blood 2: The Chosen didn't quite have the quality of a retail game by the time it was released, and was never fully fixed. The game is rife with glitches and programming errors, such as:
    • Cultists, Fanatics and Prophets may die before flinching once.
    • Shooting a Prophet enough will make him switch to the knife for no reason.
    • Enemies tend to get frozen at the end of an attack/flinch animation if they can't see or get to the player by the end of it, instead of going idle or prowling the level.
    • The second sawn-off is held by a second right hand of Caleb's (the model isn't mirrored like the other dual wield guns).
    • The flare gun's secondary fire doesn't ignite enemies at all.
    • Behemoths can damage themselves with their own shockwaves by a tiny amount, but enough to make them pound the ground repeatedly for no reason, effectively committing suicide.
    • The cutscene at the end of Chapter One may end too early, and if it does, Gabriella will minigun you to death. You can kill her in return.
    • An early cutscene in Chapter Two can likewise end with the player finding out they somehow managed to die during it, due to a sad combination of doors being able to crush anything in their path, doors closing on their own a few seconds after being opened, and the cutscene in question starting up while the player is walking through a door.
    • The first fight with Gideon often ends before you fully deplete his health. After the cutscene, you have around 20 seconds to free roam before the next level loads. In the second fight, he flinches with absolutely any damage you deal, the minigun can lift him up into the air; upon death, his body may clip through the floor and drop to the lower boundaries of the level.
    • Dropping weapons and standing on top of them nets you ammo for them like if you'd just picked them up for the first time.
    • Some enemies, like the third Soul Drudge in Love Canal, will be permanently stuck attacking the air (often several times faster than normal despite not corresponding to the animation playing) unless you shoot them.
    • Drudge Lords will slide across the ground if they, for whatever reason, decide to do their fireball attack when you're out of sight. if you're just around the corner, it's frequently deadly.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Ominous Domus Durbentia Chanting, actually. Rather common in later levels of each episode.
  • One-Man Army: Caleb can take on the likes of axe-wielding zombies, crazed cultists, gargoyles, and Grim Reapers all by himself.
  • Our Gargoyles Rock: Flesh and stone versions, stone ones being larger and much harder to kill.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Notably, Blood is the Ur Example of fast-running zombies.
  • Oxygen Meter: Both games, though it's only really visible in the second game, considering all the Goddamn Bats that try to kill you by depleting it. In the first game, you have to watch out if your screen starts going too dark.
  • Palette Swap: Brown and black robed cultists. One official expansion went crazy with blue, green and maroon robed cultistsnote . Besides that, red and green spiders and regular and stone gargoyles, though the latter two are also resized and use different attacks.
  • Personal Space Invader: Choking Hands. The sequel introduces Bone Leeches and Thieves.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: The games feature lots of really good lines to use while dispatching someone, such as:
    "When you get to Hell, tell them I sent you; you'll get a group discount!"
    "I hope you weren't a procrastinator, 'cuz you just ran out of tomorrows."
    "Red is definitely your color!"
    "Time to open you up, and take a look inside..."
    "There are chunks of people like you in my stool!"
    "Get off my train!"
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: They're red and they glow!
  • Reference Overdosed: What Duke Nukem 3D was to pop culture in general, Blood was to horror movie buffs.
  • Revenge: Both ways. In the first game, Caleb's revenge on Tchernobog; in the second, the Cabal's revenge on Caleb.
  • Sawed-Off Shotgun: Caleb's signature weapon throughout the series, even used as the Guns Akimbo icon.
  • Secondary Fire: One of the earliest PC first-person shooters to feature secondary fire to many of its weapons. This feature also returns in the sequel.
  • Severed Head Sports: The game lets you kick zombie heads and even has a deathmatch map dedicated to head football.
  • Shareware: The first game, at least.
  • Shout-Out: Way way way too many to mention, mostly to horror classics such as Stephen King's books or A Nightmare on Elm Street, gothic literature... and Evil Dead for deadpan snarkery. See here for an extensive list.
  • Sinister Subway: Three levels in Blood II place Caleb on a subway train. Two of the three end with the train in question crashing.
  • Slasher Smile: Blood II's box art is a close-up of Caleb sporting one.
  • Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror: The whole concept of the games is based around this, constantly going between comedy and horror. Often both at the same time.
  • Soft Water: Provided the water is deep enough to slow your fall, landing in it will lead to no damage being taken.
  • Standard FPS Guns: Notably averted. While the shotgun and machine gun are typical, the pistol is a flare gun that shoots incendiary projectiles that set enemies on fire; the rocket launcher is replaced by a napalm gun, and there are bizarre weapons such as the hairspray and lighter, voodoo doll and the Life Leech staff. The second game pads the armory out with a few more of these, like a normal 9mm pistol and a sniper rifle, but otherwise keeps most of the bizarre weapons of the first game, or replaces them with equally-odd new ones, like a pesticide sprayer with a Zippo lighter attached to make it into an impromptu flamethrower.
  • Steam Vent Obstacle: Blood II's obligatory sewer level consists near-entirely of finding switches to turn off a series of steam vents blocking you from crossing a bridge to the exit.
  • Take That: Blood riffs on Duke Nukem 3D by stringing up Duke's own corpse in a hidden room at the Dark Carnival.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Choking Hands will actually obscure the HUD when doing their thing.
  • Updated Re-release: One Unit Whole Blood, which contains all six episodes and extra features.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Where do we begin?
    • The most cruel ones may be unarmed civilians that will sometimes drop health if you kill them, or must be killed, as they carry a key.
    • There's also head-soccer: in Blood, you could decapitate zombies and kick their heads around (it was even used as a carnival game in the first game's Dark Carnival level). Blood II expands this so you can kick the head of any humanoid enemy around.
    • Caleb hates mimes with a passion. In fact, mimes in this game exist only to be used as platforms and to be brutally killed. Even the help screen of the registered version shows a mime getting killed by some monsters!
    Caleb: [after killing one mime] "Ugh, I hate mimes."
    [after killing a few more] "Oh, I shouldn't have done that... Wait, I'm evil! I can kill whoever I want!" [maniacal giggling]
  • Villain Protagonist: Caleb, who's not above killing bystanders that gets in his way.
  • Voodoo Doll: One of Caleb's many weapons. It seems to have the ability to hurt whatever is in front of him when he stabs it, instead of being keyed to a specific individual like many other such dolls. Attacking with it when there are no enemies in the crosshair instead deals very slight damage to Caleb.
  • Water Is Air: Mostly averted; Caleb can swim really quickly, and there's relatively clear view even in the sewers, but sounds are very distorted underwater.
  • Weaponized Offspring: Shial spawns regular spiders as its only attack.
  • Zombie Puke Attack: Bloated Butchers (the fat zombies).

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