Bloody Service Review – FMV Serves An Ace For Slashers
Developed by CASE
Published by Hidden People Club
Available on PC
There’s nothing like a good coming of age story. Especially one with tremendous violence. Bloody Service is a game by developers CASE. The developers behind the excellent 19 Line and the upcoming The Parrot That Summons Demons, this game is a comedic take on the slasher film genre. For a low-budget indie game, Bloody Service is a stunningly deep and detailed story about extremely mad siblings.
In Bloody Service you play as Jamie, part-time employee to the Hilltop Tennis Club. Working as a member of the catering staff for the club’s 90th anniversary event (only now does it occur to me that this is where the title comes from), Jamie finds himself in the middle of a vengeful plot against the club. A plot being performed by enormous conjoined athlete twins.
It’s tough doing a review of FMVs. I did really enjoy the story of Bloody Service. The writing is good and the story branches in actually meaningful ways. Story is the most integral part, and I don’t want to spoil any of it. What I can say is that I liked the narrative in Bloody Service a lot. The premise is fresh, there are characters to love, characters to hate, and plenty of unlikeable people who die in often pretty gruesome ways. Not only that, there are a ton of little details and implications about the plot that can be made, which makes the story that much more interesting. Everything a good slasher film or FMV needs.
Obviously the person doing the slashing is a critical part of the slasher genre. Bloody Service has two. The 16 year old twins make a great pair of killers. Like many prolific antagonists of the genre, they have a very clear disfigurement which has impacted their lives tremendously. Unlike most others, however, they were members of a country club, under the care of their wealthy father. All that changes when their father dies, another family member threatens to steal their inheritance, and the twins are banned from the club. What other options are there than extreme violence?
Bloody Service is a full motion video (FMV) game. Meaning, there are no real instances of gameplay in the traditional sense, the game is composed of different dialogues and choices you make. Unlike most contemporary FMVs, Bloody Service does not show all too much of the action. You won’t find yourself staring at a rigid NPC’s face while you decide what choice to make. You’re generally treated to nice scenery or wide shots of locales, with the dynamic actions sequences saved for the best kills. Credit where credit is due: the devs knew where to put their effort, and it paid off.
It does have the same problem that every choice-based game has. Like all of its contemporaries, Bloody Service has a bunch of “fake” choices: instances where you’re given a choice, but then redirected to the one you need to take to push the story along. While this is to be expected, as having each choice branch into its own complete narrative would be an incomprehensible amount of content, it is worth mentioning that this game has it too. Rest assured, Bloody Service has a variety of different endings, so you won’t get the Mass Effect 3 treatment where the only change is a different color of murder.
There were a few scenes in Bloody Service where I sort of lost the plot for a minute. There’s one instance where you’re trapped in a locker for a bit, and a group of children walk by and the attempt to murder you for some reason. The reasoning, I think, is because earlier in the game you almost get them in trouble for throwing eggs, and because they’re the children of rich psychos (rich psychopathy is also something kids inherit from their parents). In the moment, it seems a bit extreme. I think it would have done Bloody Service some good to expand upon those characters a bit.
Then again, that might not be necessary. Seeing as you’ll be playing through Bloody Service several times, you do eventually make the connections as to what happens. One good part of this FMV is that it’s much shorter than most, which means that it’s not a drag to play through it multiple times for the various branches and different endings.
The visual style of Bloody Service is particularly interesting for an FMV. The scenery is often run through a filter that makes the game look like a PS1 title, which for a low-budget indie game, looks really great. It emphasizes the atmosphere without distracting you with low-poly assets. The colors in the beginning captured the golden hour lighting of the late afternoon especially, and the interior of the club party was lively even on a static image. CASE is good at using these visual strategies to create more out of less.
This style won’t be for everyone. Bloody Service does leave a lot to the imagination (though again, you will see some very gruesome murders by the twins), and it might not be what was expected. If you want a taste of their FMV style, I would again suggest you play 19 Line, a similar experience, this one free. Wildly different in terms of content, of course, but it does give you a taste of what you can expect.
On its surface, the presence of the conjoined twins might seem a bit of a contradiction. The story of Bloody Service makes it clear that they are humiliated and bullied because of their abnormal appearance. At the same time, however, the presence of them in the game itself seems to be poking fun at the concept of a pair of killers who are conjoined. The devs have stated that their characters were created along the lines of if Carrie had a conjoined twin. The twins are not portrayed as monstrous as I’d thought they would be, level headed (heads-ed?) enough to target those who deserve it rather than going on a murderous rampage. It’s made it pretty clear this is supposed to be, I don’t know if empowering is the right word, but certainly not dehumanizing.
For the modest price, I think you get a great amount of content out of Bloody Service. I like the characters and the design. The choices are interesting and there’s a surprising amount of little secrets you can find on repeat playthroughs. My only wish is that there were more content, which just goes to show how much I enjoyed the game here. If you like slasher films I imagine you will Love this game. Because it’s like tennis. Get it? Alrighty.
You can purchase Bloody Service on Steam by clicking here.