Daedalic Entertainments new RPG Blackguards dresses up the age old formula or turn based strategy by adding cutscenes and a deep RPG element which makes it a muddled up game for only the hardcore RPG buffs. Taking place within The Dark Eye universe, Blackguards world is dark and murky in its self-proclaimed low-fantasy setting and its accessible to players who haven’t played The Dark Eye.
You are framed for the murder of the princess of whom you are close too, dark forces are to blame and it is your job to clear your name and rid the world of Aventuria of the dark forces who plague it. You play as a created character of three classes; you can be a warrior, a mage and the ranged fighter. This choice is your most important one as each class has their own weaknesses. Once you have created your character, you are thrust upon your quest…..kind of. You have limited freedom in the game world which is only a map with icons on it; you choose which location to move to which then triggers a cutscene, dialogue or battle. There is no open world sandbox-y freedom you see in most RPG’s as Blackguards is purely combat focused which heavily tugs on your heroes armour plated cape. The story is quite deep though as characters all have their own backstories which can be delved into via multiple choice dialogue options during scripted conversations. The gameplay is purely focused on Blackguards turn based strategy mechanic. Players take turns in battle until the enemy is dead or a certain objective is completed. It’s not easy after the first few fights requiring players to use their intellect to gain the upper hand on the opposition. When you have a party of characters, all with different traits, the battles can be pretty tense even though it isn’t fast paced. The RPG element is present heavily but it isn’t easy to really use effectively. Your characters Strength, Willpower, Stamina etc. are all listed of which you can assign AP or Adventure Points to them to make your Warrior grow. AP can also be assigned to skills, spells and special abilities which allow more options in the combat scenario and could mean failure or success. There is simply too much to fiddle around with and can confuse or leave you boggled as to where to assign key hard-earned AP. It would have made the game more accessible if this was made simpler, I myself navigated the massive array of menus fine but the non-fans will be lost.
Another downfall is Blackguards looks, its ugly. 3D environments in battles and cutscenes are reminiscent of the PlayStation 2 era. Characters are not very well detailed and their animations are very limited. The environments takes your notice away from this though as they do look good in placed even though they are murky. Unfortunately though, you will see the map screen a lot which is just a drawing with icons on it ruining any chance of getting immersed within what could have been an engaging creepy world.
If you’re an RPG fan but prefer combat over exploration, then Blackguards is up your street but explorers will be disappointed. The onslaught of menus may turn some off but the deep story, characters and combat system makes up for it. An enjoyable but ugly RPG game.
For the full review visit www.theleet.co.uk
Developers: Daedalic Entertainment
Publishers: Daedalic Entertainment
Genre: Turn based RPG
Release Date: 24th January 2014
Story – 3/5
Graphics – 2/5
Gameplay – 3/5
Overall – 3/5