BlackGuards by Daedalic Entertainment has been on my wishlist since its release in January 2014. I finally dedicated some time to try the game and after dozens of hours I’m here to type some words about BlackGuards. Be warned though, there may be a few spoilers ahead.
BlackGuards is a dark journey into a world filled with mythical beasts, evil alchemists, and criminals of various types.
What happens when the only hope of a threatened world lies not with heroes in shining armor, but in the hands of a band of misfits and criminals? Blackguards, a new turn-based strategy RPG, explores this very question. You will discover over 180 unique hex-based battlegrounds within a dark and mature story of crime, drugs, and murder.
Play as a warrior, mage or hunter and customize your character’s skills as you see fit. The challenging campaign delivers a story of doubt, treason and loss. You decide the course of the story at key turning points and determine its outcome.
Very quickly BlackGuards sets itself apart from the normal RPG adventures with its cast of characters. Rather than playing with your standard knight in shining armor, BlackGuards puts the player in control of flawed personalities. In the beginning of the game the main character, an upper class young man with no direction in life, is seen committing a murder. Upon waking in jail we meet up with our first two companions, a grizzled dwarf warrior and an eccentric playboy mage, and help them escape from prison. Instead of heroes we are a group of criminals, murders, and now escapees searching for the truth behind the murder and maybe some riches along the way.
Throughout the journey BlackGuards introduces new characters with equally dark history. We enlist the help of a drug addicted ranger and a murderous gladiator slave to aid us further down the road. Each story along the way is a unique look at a dark world filled with crime, misery, and lots of death death.
The entire story in BlackGuards is expertly voice acted and includes many cut scenes and extra dialogue opportunities for you to discover additional information. The voice actors really give life to the characters they portray. While at times the main character can be a bit generic, the real stars of the show seem to be your lively companions. The interactions between them are fantastic and add so much depth and tone to the overall dark story.
BlackGuards is a turn-based strategy RPG, but don’t let that discourage you from trying it if you’re not usually a fan of these types of games. The combat is fast paced and action packed. A variety of weapons, spells, and abilities allow you to play in many different ways. While the game is deeply rooted in the rules and mythos of Dark Eye, a German D&D type game, thankfully BlackGuards smooths out a lot of the complicated information. Overall, for a player with no experience in Dark Eye, I found the learning curve to be just right. If needed, it was nice to be able to refer to an expansive set of text that could clarify questions I had about the lore or rule set. In this regard I quite enjoyed BlackGuards’ Dark Eye world setting. D&D has been done to death in various franchises, a fresh setting and similar set of rules really sets BlackGuards apart.
My one problem with BlackGuards is not so much of a complaint but an observation of my initial choice in character classes. When you begin the game you’re offered the choice to either create a character from scratch or pick a pre-made class type. For a player unfamiliar with Dark Eye I felt that pre-made was the way to go and I selected a fighter class. It occurred to me that my choice was probably the most generic of the 3 and that selecting a mage to spec as a priest or a range based hunter-type might have served me better as the game progressed. It’s tough to say how the game would have played out differently but in the end I’m happy that I went with a sword and shield fighter because of my tendency to dive into battle unprepared and outmatched.
BlackGuards recently released Untold Legends, its first DLC which tells the story of one of your companions and adds new maps, weapons, and music. While I haven’t played Untold Legends just yet you can bet that I’ll be purchasing the DLC when I can find the time to dedicate to it. The core BlackGuards game promises 40+ hours of gameplay and they aren’t lying when they say that. Players like me that make mistakes in battle more often than they succeed will likely get even more hours out of the base game and DLC.