Deadalic Entertainment’s old tactical RPG game features a lot of unique solutions and fantastic concepts. Despite its enormous promise, the title falls short of the mark.
Blackguards transports us to Aventuria’s south, a realm familiar from the German role-playing game Dark Eye and the Drakensang series. We begin the quest in Count Uriel’s dungeons, where we are imprisoned for the death of his daughter, a dear friend of ours. The case is complex since the primary individual has no memory of what transpired. He asserts innocence, although he has a significant gap in his memories. As is typical in such cases, the time in the cell is brief. Another prisoner, a dwarf eager to be liberated, comes to the rescue. This is how we start our adventure to establish our innocence and discover how the girl died. The narrative is based on the well-known theme of random heroes. Our squad is made up of small criminals, including a grumpy dwarf, a promiscuous wizard, and a drug-addicted elf. Because of the predicament they are in, everyone works together. No one desires to be a traditional hero; even the player’s heroine stresses from the start that she would prefer spend her days lying upside down than embark on the adventures that await her. We rapidly discover that the team members represent the game universe – a gloomy, somber environment where conflicts and difficulties are discussed more frequently than protecting virgins. Deadalic paints Aventuria in a bleak light, and the activities we encounter along the way rarely enable us to choose between virtue and evil. The tough environment might get tiresome over time, so the authors lighten the mood with well-written dialogue that makes it impossible not to chuckle at moments.
We are compelled to follow the events of the main plot at first, doing single side missions, but by the third chapter, southern Aventuria has opened up to us and the number of other activities has increased substantially. We get to know our staff better by talking to clients; everyone is eager to contribute to the dialogue. It is often the companions, rather than the main character, that draw us into the maelstrom of adventure. This answer gives the world more authenticity, and it makes it simpler for us to form bonds with the whole corporation. The game environment is presented in a very simple manner. The sites we visit are represented as dots on a map, while villages and towns are made up of one or more static displays with many interlocutors and sellers. Each location is unique, and the majority of them contain side tasks to keep you entertained while exploring Aventuria. However, many towns lack inns and healers, forcing you to travel to many sites to prepare for fight.
Throughout the many dozen hours of gameplay in Blackguards, we will have to fight dozens, if not hundreds, of fights, and each area we visit is unique. The battlefields varies in appearance and feature a variety of interactive components and unique areas. On some of them, we must avoid traps and avoid slipping in pools of water; on others, tanks with medical potions and components allow you to complete the combat without killing all of the foes. The battle mechanics are straightforward and simple to grasp. Each character has one turn every round to move a specific number of fields and do one action – fighting, casting a spell, or using an item. The sequence in which the combat participants move is displayed in the lower portion of the screen, allowing us to organize our actions to remove certain opponents before they can do anything. The game also employs a cover mechanism, which blocks the line of fire or the ability to perform a spell. Other characters are frequently in the course of the bullet, although their height has a lot to do with it. We can so freely fire over the dwarven warrior’s head – Naurim – and the huge cannibal is exposed even when surrounded by attackers. On the battlefield, we will come across enormous snails spitting poison, hypnotic flowers, and wooden trolls, as well as more or less civilized humans. We don’t always win battles by slaughtering everyone around us. Often, there is an alternate answer, such as the necessity to flee or collect the squad in a certain location to complete the conflict with triumph. Some battles appear forced and unnecessary. While the instances in which Naurim’s explosive anger leads opponents to attack aren’t very memorable, it’s possible that the producers insisted on include at least one battle in each mission. The battles that take place during flashbacks are especially bothersome because they offer nothing to the story but can be violent. Playing fights without losing is difficult at first since the opponents are not weak, and a lot of information, such as the possibility of striking the opponent, is inaccessible until we learn the necessary abilities. We gain the experience points required to grow our characters slowly, so we must consider each cost carefully. We may lose out on exceptional abilities taught by instructors in certain cities if we invest too many points in skills.
The character creation method is quite complicated, with various criteria spread over multiple screens determining each feature of our hero. If we don’t want to start with statistics and compare characteristics to find the optimum combination, we may use one of the pre-made characters, stating simply the gender and whether or not we want to conduct magic. Otherwise, we’ll spend a pleasant quarter-hour assigning points because the quantity of alternatives is remarkable. The lack of a defined support structure can be a concern given the intricacy of Blackguards. The developers spend a lot of time discussing the core concepts and how we may use the environment, but many features, such as how individual spells or the load system operate, we have to figure out on our own because the game’s explanations explain little or nothing. The inventory system is one of the least prepared aspects. We are unable to locate a better weapon than the one with which our heroes begin their travels for more than half of the game, and the prices of equipment drive us to carefully calculate each coin we spend. Blackguards looks great thanks to the efficient use of filters and other effects, especially when viewing the world as a map stretched across a table. Although exhibited in the form of static photographs, towns and villages have numerous features and dynamic aspects that bring them to life. Against this backdrop, character photos stand out – when we glance at the initiative bar during fights, we generally see many copies of the same adversary with just aesthetic differences.
At first sight, Blackguards appears to be flawless, but as time passes, more flaws and tiny but vexing issues emerge. Even various conflicts that give the chance of victory without bloodshed grow tedious when played repeatedly, especially because the heroes’ repertoire of tactics and tricks is fairly limited. The developers were so preoccupied with inventing different fights that they didn’t have time to make sure the remainder of the game was similarly extensive, entertaining, and engaging.