Developer: Daedalic Entertainment
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
Genre: RPG, Adventure, Indie, Strategy
Platform: PC (Steam)
Release Date: January 20, 2015
Blackguards was an independent title developed by Daedalic Entertainment almost exactly one year ago. I played it, considering it to be a mix of tactical, turn-based game play (like Heroes of Might and Magic), and isometric adventure RPG elements (like the Diablo games). You played criminals and troublemakers on a mission to save the world. I was neither overly impressed or disappointed by the first game, and since Daedalic also makes a few of my favorite games series like Deponia and The Dark Eye. I decided to give Blackguards 2 the old college try, having heard from others who had tried it pre-release that it was pretty good.
Blackguards 2 is related to the first one purely by the world it takes place in. This story is about the Mad Conqueror Cassia – a female ruler thrown into the dungeons under her city to die. She is poisoned by creatures who slowly kill their prey – both in body and mind – until she finally escapes and begins her insane crusade of revenge. The story is pretty straight forward, and there were not a lot of surprises (at least for me) as far as the plot goes. Basically, you play as Cassia and build her up to be the hero (or anti-hero in this case) of your choosing.
Blackguards 2 is your typical RPG. You build up your stats, your skills and your equipment, so you can overcome the myriad of foes the game continues to throw at you. You’ll also interact with NPCs, do “quests”, treasure hunt and try to reach the end of the story in one piece. Not that it’s hard – the game mostly builds up as it goes, giving you time to level up and gather friends. And swords. Lots and lots of swords. Too many swords, actually. I found most of my treasure to be of the slightly better than the last thing I picked up progression type. Not that it mattered, because when I got my favorite magic-users to a certain level, they literally killed everything with fire. Once you get to that point, it’s all stabbing and burning from there.
Game play involves several ways of committing actions, such as using a wheel to choose an action or setting actions to the toolbar. You’ll command your people to swing, block, wait, cast spells, flip switches, open doors and everything else. It’s all turn-based, based on the speed of the combatants. To move, click on the character and see the hexagons appear on the terrain. You can only move so far and do so much, which makes every fight a tactical one. Your party will start out with one, and then grow and grown and grow until you have a small army of characters to direct in combat. Small army means more than five people, with the power to take on another army. You’ll also get to pick places on a map and go there to secure your rule.
Now normally I would play a game all the way through to the very end, but this is when I encountered Blackguards 2’s major flaw. As soon as I had so many enemies and teammates on the screen doing all sorts of flashy things at once, the action slowed to an absolute crawl. So bad was the drop in frame-rate that my PC never recovered. Now I have above the Recommended System Requirements on the store page on Steam, so this shouldn’t even be an issue. Yet, whenever I reload the battle or try another battle with tons of animations, the game become almost unplayable. I’m two-thirds of the way to the end, and I’m sitting there hoping a patch will come along and fix whatever memory leak or problem most players seem to be experiencing right now with lag. I’m hoping Daedalic will take this issue seriously and assist people on the boards, or this game is going to stall and burn out. I can’t play it any farther as it is.
The voice acting and the music are all very nice. The graphics and art are standard. It looks good and sounds good. Save for the same lag issue I mentioned above seems to sometimes make people stutter horribly and the music get stuck in loop. Or the graphics to skip around terribly.Too bad, since this game has some potential of being really fun.
For what it is, Blackguards 2 is better than the first one. Save the glaring technical issues. It’s not overly engaging, as you’ll probably be able to guess where the story is going 99% of the time. It’s more of a challenge of properly kitting your people and then maneuvering into the right spot to decimate multiple enemies in one shot. I was kind of enjoying for what it was – a turn-based RPG. I encourage anyone who tries it to do the same and not expect too much more from it.
As of right now, at full price, you might want to wait until they’ve released two or three more patches before you buy it, or have a super-powerful PC to play it on.
Nathan is a 40-ish year-old gamer, father and programmer. His hobbies are board games, video games and watching his son. He wrote for http://www.ironmanmode.com/ for the years of 2012 and 2013 to make money for Child's Play. He has been basically playing games since the 1980's in one form or another. His very first favorite video game was actually an arcade game called Dig Dug. He has played every generation of video game console (including the Magnavox Odyssey)