Blackguards – Preview
Follow Genre: RPG, Strategy
Developer: Daedalic Entertainment
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
Platform: PC

Blackguards – Preview

Good: Interesting use of environment.
Bad: Still requires some tweaking before it's really enjoyable.
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7.0
(2 votes)
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Today I’m going to talk about Blackguards, an upcoming turn-based RPG by the likes of Daedalic Entertainment. Up until now, Daedalic is mainly known for its Deponia series as well as for several other point & click games. What they’re not renowned for, are role-playing games. Blackguards is looking to change all that, grabbing its lore from the popular The Dark Eye table top-franchise and combining it with well-known RPG-tropes and gameplay reminiscent of franchises like King’s Bounty and Heroes of Might & Magic.

First of all, I will start of by saying that since Blackguards is currently for sale through Steam’s Early Access program, it is very much a work in progress. For now that means you get to play the first chapter, with chapter 2 through five releasing over the next two months. You’d also best be aware that any game in beta, has its issues and Blackguards is no different. Characters, items and events still carry their database name, essentially notifying you you’re fighting on map id:MQ105F04 instead of something like Crypts

Blackguards is supposed to be a darker take on turn-based role-playing, having you take charge of a band of misfits and crooks. In reality, most of what the game has shown me so far, leads me to believe this game’s criminals are no worse than the band of sell-swords these types of games usually cast. Your main character is accused of killing a princess, gets thrown in jail and is left to rot while his execution inches closer day by day. A – unsurprising – bout of amnesia leaves the actual turn of events rather hazy, leaving your character himself rather unsure of whether he’s the actual culprit or not. And so you begin your prison break and quest to find out the truth, recruit some petty crooks who are far from the hardened killers Blackguards initially wanted you to believe its cast consisted off.

Sure, they have some anger issues, and one peculiar magician clearly is a little too fond of chasing skirts, but its not like they’re the bane of society.

I won’t touch on the rest of the story, in part because it’s not finished yet, but also because these kinds of story-driven games deserve better than to be spoiled. So far, though, the plot seems to rely on familiar twists and tropes.

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Gameplay-wise Blackguards is best compared to a game like King’s Bounty. You move along a hexagonal grid, but instead of commanding entire armies, you’re controlling a small band of compatriots, who each have their own set of skills, spells and abilities. The biggest catch, however, is how the game encourages you to use the environment against your adversaries. Yes: Blackguards is a difficult game, especially when you try to plough your way through hordes of enemies using only your weapons and spells. Combatants can miss and magic spells may fizzle. Instead carefully placed objects are scattered throughout every area and can be used in your advantage. Chandeliers, for instance can be brought down and having a character carrying a torch attack a wooden table, will start a fire which will engulf nearby foes.

Things like these require quite a bit of thinking and ensure fights stay interesting. You’ll also need to take advantage of the environment as much as possible. Not just to survive, but also to make sure you can fulfil some objectives, like successfully rescuing a woman who will then join you.

Maps start out small and simple, but quickly grow to more epic and complex proportions as time goes on. They get more interesting as well, as the A.I. won’t use the same patterns each and every time and require more thought the more you play.

Visually Blackguards won’t mesmerise you, at least not if I’m going with what I’ve seen up until now. Crypts, woodlands and other area’s all breathe their own air of mysticism and each arena employs some nice lighting-effects, but more often than not the backgrounds are basic and generic and are clearly build around practical combat situations, instead of trying to leave players awestruck.

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What I’ve been able to play so far, leaves me with the impression that – once finished – Blackguards will turn out to be a decent and welcome entry in a genre that deserves some time in the spotlights. At the same time, my gut is telling me, this’ll turn out to be a game meant for a clear niche audience that’s either easily enticed by the promise of a somewhat unconventional RPG or is part of a The Dark Eye fan-base.

For now though, it’s still difficult to wholly recommend this game to any but the most ardent fans, as four fifths of Blackguards’ story is still lingering in limbo and the obvious and expected beta-issues are still leaving a noticeable impression on its gameplay. Most notably: back-end labels are still visible throughout the game, filling in blanks or acting as a replacements for unnamed objects; an FPS-counter is visible at all times and the odd crash or two remind you of the game’s current status. At the same time expect to see some tweaks to abilities and general gameplay as well. I for one would like to see a more forgiving hit chance to cold-based magic.

Rest assure that I’ll be keeping a close eye on this one. Expect a complete review near the end of January. By then the Blackguards should have fleshed out some more.

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Blackguards - Preview, 7.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

3 Comments

  1. Rick52975
    Rick52975
    November 24, 2013, 9:46 pm

    looks interesting, I was looking at it on the steam store today, may be a christmas gift to myself xD

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    • ThaMofo
      ThaMofo
      November 25, 2013, 12:04 am

      Yeah, it looks to be a promising game. :)

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  2. 3rd-strike.com | Contest: Blackguards
    January 3, 2014, 12:11 am

    […] Check out the preview of this game here. […]

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