Blackguards is a new turn-based tactical RPG from Daedalic Entertainment, most known for their point and click adventure games. Blackguards takes place in the pen and paper universe of The Dark Eye.
The story begins with either your girlfriend (if you play as a male) or your close friend (if you play as a female), the princess being killed. During a cutscene you see that it was a wolf that took the princess’ life, but you are now being blamed for it. Even after that tragedy you are ruthlessly interrogated by your close friends and then thrown into a dungeon. This is where your journey begins.
The combat of Blackguards is deep enough for someone looking for some real strategy and intuitive enough for someone just looking to casually play a RPG game. So, for those looking for some real tactical decisions, the maps and abilities of your party will allow you a large variety of options. Many of the maps have interactive features, that can be used to the players advantage. These features can be easily highlighted during battle, allowing you to effectively plan your next moves. They can range from anything to dropping chandeliers on people to setting tall grass on fire, harming all that pass through. When used right, these features can change an overwhelming battle into an easily won victory.
When attacking during battle, Daedalic has done their best in trying to keep the feel of the pen and paper style of gameplay. Each attack, whether melee or spell is associated with a percentage of attack and in many cases it really does feel like a roll of the dice. Especially as the mage character. You will have to spend time leveling up the mage’s skills in order to not have the spells failing every other turn. Even with the frustrations of attacks failing, as they do in RPG’s, the battles are quick and intense. You can take all the time you want planning your moves, but to see the AI, move deftly around the map and quickly surround you, it puts a sense of desperation into you.
The leveling system in Blackguards is again, deep and somewhat easy to understand. I say somewhat, because after spending some time with it, I can understand it enough to enjoy leveling in the game and I still know that there are plenty of layers underneath. After each battle you are awarded AP points for each character. There are dozens of ways these AP points can be spent. For instance, you can choose to level up your character’s offense, which is actually three different aspects of your character or you can level those three aspects separately. You can level up different weapon skills and then choose whether these weapon skills help with your character’s offense or defense. Some of the skills you upgrade can even affect your character’s initiative, and this affects how often and in what order your characters attack.
The quests in Blackguards range from the main story which is always leading you to the next town, to a nice amount of side quests that will have you fighting trolls, leeches, humans, you name it. The battles can be a simple kill everything on the screen to rescue missions and even mission where enemies will continue to spawn until you find out how to stop them.
On top of all of this Blackguards is a great looking game. The maps are detailed, colorful and unique with the character models and animations being just as good.
As I said before, Blackguards is available through Steam’s early access and it will be published chapter by chapter as it’s finished.