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

Blackguards – Review

Site Score
Good: Decent cast of characters, deep leveling system, using the environment to help in combat works great.
Bad: Clichéd story, overly traditional design, combat relies a bit too much on luck.
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It’s safe to say that Blackguards is a departure from everything we’ve come to expect from Daedalic Entertainment. After all, this is a company that released countless old-school point & click games. Not so this time around, as this game ventures dawn the roleplaying path.


Blackguards tells the story of a team of misfits who, having escaped a gruesome fate on the gallows, are cast as a bunch of make-shift heroes. Glossing over the PR-talk and fact-sheets that usually accompany video games, makes it apparent that Blackguards is supposed to be a dark, gritty tale about a handful of villains trying to redeem themselves.

It’s nothing like that by a long shot, though.

In the first place, most of your characters are either wrongly accused of the crimes they supposedly did, or were somehow forced to commit them. As such, the dark plot Blackguards promises could perhaps better be attributed to colour grey.

Things do remain compelling, as the game’s cast’s unrelenting bantering is witty at most times, while offering reflective moments while the mood demands it. A large part of their charm is found in the way they all seem to be outcasts of their respective communities, forcing them to rely on one another, even if they’d rather just go their separate ways.

Blackguards is part of the German The Dark Eye franchise. Fort hose not in the know; The Dark Eye is a rather popular pen-and-paper rpg that even managed to outsell Dungeons & Dragons in some countries. As such, there’s plenty of lore to discover, although Blackguards does tend to rely more on its own setting than on the world’s history.

A pity, because while the plot is serviceable, it’s never more than that, instead relying on clichés seen a hundred times before in works of fiction throughout many kinds of media.



Those same gritty circumstances that seem to be lacking in the game’s story, do turn up in its visuals. Dark environments, aided by some stunning lighting, manage to create an air of hopelessness, the exact mood Blackguards was aiming for.

Those same areas, however, tend to be rather straightforward and typical of what you can expect from a fantasy game. In other words: dark dungeons, foreboding caves and lush forests, nothing you haven’t seen plenty of times already.

This wouldn’t have posed so much of an obstacle, if there was a way to go off exploring, but sadly there’s hardly anything interesting to discover that’s not part of the main quest.

Don’t get me wrong, the hand-crafted environments look gorgeous, but they tend to be traditional to a fault.



There’s not much to say about the game’s soundtrack. Daedalic’s games have always been a bit hit or miss in thiss department, either introducing memorable tracks or forgettable tunes that fail to stick.

In this case it’s the latter.

I did like the game’s voice-acting however. Characters manage to convey their emotions astoundingly well and for such a niche game, it’s an even more remarkable achievement.


Blackguards will most likely only appeal to a niche-market. Not just because it’s a strategy rpg, a genre that has never really enjoyed massive popularity, but mostly because of its hands-off approach. Because make no mistake, this is a vary difficult game that offers next to no hand-holding. Sure, there’s a tutorial, explaining most basic commands and mechanics, but even early on you’ll need to manage to fully grasp a plethora of situations in order to come out on top of a fight.

Most of these difficulty spikes can be attributed to the way combat so heavily relies on the use of the environment. Holes have to be covered up, lest more enemies spawn from them, overwhelming odds require proper use of obstacles and nearby traps and using your skills in combination with whatever useful object is nearby (like setting parts of the scenery on fire) will often mean the difference between life and death.

I personally welcome a challenge, but at the same time I fully realise that inexperienced players might find all a bit too demanding.

What really makes the difficulty level hard to swallow, is Blackguards’ over-reliance on numbers and statistics, or more to the point, the faulty logic that at times seems to be behind them.

You’ll find that skills and attacks tend to miss often. At times, my mage’s fire spell had more than an eighty percent cast/hit-rate, but still fizzled or missed for four turns in a row. The fact that this happened to both my team, as well as my enemies pointed towards a more serious problem behind the game’s algorithms.

The problem that presents itself, is that fights tended to depend on luck, more than skill. A shame, since Blackguards variety of locales offer enough interesting ways to go about a fight without having to rely on rolling dices.

When it comes to gaining levels, characters acquire experience points in order to level up and spend points in any skill your class has to offer. Multitasking is encouraged as it creates a versatile character, although this does make it easy to mess up and under-perform later on in the game. Specializing is a certain skill-set, on the other hand, adds bonuses to spells and abilities the more you level them.

It’s an appealing system that offers many possibilities, most of which you’ll only glance at within the span of one play-through.



Blackguards will most certainly not appeal to everyone. It’s a difficult game that fails to deliver the dark plot it promised, but does have an interesting cast of characters. Being able to use the environment to your advantage works great, yet this gets tempered by combat that’s relying on dice rolls perhaps a bit too rigorous.

Yet those who are willing to invest their time into this strategy rpg, get to play an adequate and enjoyable adventure that’s both deep and satisfying.

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