Let me spoil your appetite right away. Bloodforge should not be compared to the God of War series, in fact it has more in common with the mediocre hack n' slash games that came before the original God of War on Playstation 2.
So what does the game do well? Well, the black and white (with lots of red blood) visual style works really well with this kind of game. It reminds us of Mad World in a way, but unfortunately they went with more realistic looking characters. A shame given the beautiful graphical novel style art we see in menus and the likes. Other than that, the technical foundation seems rather simple and it's hardly a game that pushes the Unreal Engine to any lengths.
The combat system is simple but functional, you string together quick and strong attacks with various weapons (hammer, sword, bone claws, etc.), and there is a crossbow that lets you attack from range which is useful when you're trying to build large combos. When you're spilling the blood of your enemies a blood meter fills up that let's you unleash "blood rage" a state in which you do more damage.
You can upgrade your special attacks and use items to aid your progress. It's your standard hack n' slash offering in that regard. Item use is an area that I feel is not really well designed, as you can only map one item to use quickly in real time (you can always pause and use the menu wheel, of course), but it sort of takes away a layer of on the fly tactics.
Levels are linear and enemies are extremely repetitive. Facing the same kind of smaller and larger enemies over and over again in similar environments is something I thought we'd left behind with the last generation of consoles, and that's really what this feels like. This game could very well have been a full priced mediocre game from the likes of Acclaim during the last generation. The horrible camera, the annoying semi-circle dodges that often take you right back into danger, and the somewhat jerky action, just can't be excused by the "low pricetag".
Climax have tried out some novel ideas it should be said. Even if the game is purely a singleplayer offering there is something called "Blood Duel" where you go head to head with a friend to see who's the best at the game, and Challenges where you can create challenges for your friends and beat their challenges. These maps are basically a survival mode where you face increasingly difficult waves of enemies where you can modify your and their stats after each wave. The problem here is that the basic premise of the game is just so repetitive and unappealing that it really doesn't help the overall experience.
Now, as cool as it may be two walk around with a deer head helmet (sporting two massive antlers), a massive hammer, and a bone gauntlet, while muttering harsh words of vengeance whenever spoken to, the story feels a bit thin and bland. Our main character Crom is tricked into killing his family and goes on this predestined trek to kill some God. He is aided along the way by Morrigan who conveniently turns into a flock of crows when Crom has to walk all over the place and spill blood to get where he's going.
Bloodforge is unfortunately one of the weaker offerings Microsoft have included in any of their XBLA campaigns to date. It's easy to see how it could have been good, but it just feels old and the combat is just way too repetitive. And don't get me started on the camera, at times it feels like the most difficult enemy you'll face in the game. Stay away unless you're really into the fiction, or you're dying for a singleplayer hack n' slash.