Blood Will Tell is the story of Hyakkimaru, born into the samurai era and destined to rid the world of the Fiends, who bring untold suffering and misery. The problem is he's not all there. Forty eight of those Fiends each stole a part of his body right after he was born. Thankfully, baby mister potato head is found by a doctor who gives him arms, legs, eyes...the works, so he can live a semi-normal life. Sound like a premise for a unique and engaging gaming experience? It could have been, but this one just doesn't have any heart. It doesn't even rate a spleen.
The visuals aren't taxing the power of the console. The characters are bland and lacking in detail, especially when compared to other PS2 games like Killzone. The stark and empty environments, which are often repeated or reused, are reminiscent of Dynasty Warriors, though that series also had to juggle hordes of on screen enemies. Blood Will Tell never has you fighting more than a few enemies at a time, which only appear when you're practically standing on top of them. Only the bosses have bright, imaginative designs and decent animation, but this only highlights the failure of their surroundings, like a flower blooming in the dirt.
Looks aren't everything. Blood Will Tell is a solid slash 'em up, though the somewhat awkward control and questionable hit detection keep it from being in the same league as Shinobi. Though there are some new elements are derived from its unique premise. The sword arms offer a quicker and more acrobatic slashing combo, the machine-gun like attack can strike slow moving enemies at a safe distance, and there is a the leg cannon... which is so cumbersome to use that it's best avoided whenever possible. Last but not least is the charged attack. Almost a mini-game by itself, it requires hitting certain button combos within a time limit. Do well and you'll be rewarded with bonus items, even rare swords if you manage to master it. The spirit attack is just your run of the mill ninja/samurai magic, with different powers found on scrolls scattered through the game's levels. Which is a good thing since the default power is very awkward to control, and you'll find that most of your attacks will only slash air.
That's just for Hyakkimaru. Occasionally, you'll control the spirited young thief Dororo, and even though he wasn't the focus of the game, I found his all too brief moments far more original and enjoyable. Instead of straight 'kill everything in your path,' his missions tended to be a mix of platforming and brawling, using his punching combos and skill with throwing rocks, as well as other projectiles. The only real snag was having to go to the start menu to switch weapons, but that's a minor complaint compared to the horrible camera.
Most of the time the camera is just sort of there. It never moves according to the character unless you tap L1 to center it behind him. You can look a bit to the left or right using the right analogue stick, but this is so limited it might as well not be there. Because this isn't painful enough, sometimes the camera angle will be locked as if attempting to imitate Onimusha. The chosen angle often obscures important details, and can sometimes be pointed in entirely the wrong direction. See those enemies right in front of you? No, because the camera wants to focus entirely on Hyakkimaru's low polygon face. At least the camera rarely messes up during the bosses, but all of this could have been avoided if it had been anchored behind the character and a simple lock-on system, like Sega's own Gungrave: OD, implemented.