I've been enjoying the game, even though I've had to take a break because of work. It's a nice casual RPG - there's no epic amounts of exploration to do, or a world to freely explore. So it's even more linear in that sense. What you do have is a focus on tactical turn based combat, trying to figure out how that system interacts with your stats, and how to exploit the environment to your benefit. I won't mention graphics because this game is several years old now, they're quite adequate though, and the environments are nice. Pros: + Nice mechanics + Voiced characters + So far interesting story + Relaxing, casual Cons: - Hitting in combat feels very RNG sometimes
Pretty funny seeing all the people here whine about this game being unforgiving or super difficult... I am completely new to Dark Eye game systems and have just taken my time in looking at the character trees etc and sort of feeling my way into where I'm spending my AP. I would say that if difficult = not 1shotting every single battle, then the game is "difficult". But beyond that, it's not very difficult. Every single encounter has taken me no more than 2 tries barring the end encounter for Chapter 2 (louse queen as a 3rd battle in a row with no recovery time. I decided to power thru it vs trying to load an old save and set myself up for easier success over all 3 as a whole with the knowledge I'd gained... too lazy to do that). And I can even say that the first attempt is often experimentation or trial/error with the different maps, traps and interactables etc and perhaps new enemy types. It's fairly easy so far, although I will say that the difficulty is spiky; it runs the gamut from faceroll to mildy challenging (and some of the reviews I see whining about difficulty are from people that spent far less time than I, so I doubt it's where I am in the game) -- honestly if you are having trouble, maybe reevaluate your movement and positioning. I've found that there is a lot of advantage to be gained and strategy in positioning and more or less "gaming the map" to keep control and manage some of the risk/rng. This is a hex based game, and sometimes moving 2 hexes right or left can change a whole lot. To give an example -- I saw a "WTF is" by TotalBiscuit, where he played a fairly early map and thought it was frustrating and difficult... immediately started making major positioning oversights in the very first turn he had. The corridor is bottlenecked to 3 hexes wide and there are like 6 active crypt lice. Why would you not move 3 characters onto each of those hexes and wait for the lice to come to you? Then you are only fighting 3 at once you only have 3 characters of your choosing taking damage (far more control over damage intake). Following this, you have infinite recovery turns on the map to heal before moving forward and "activating" the next group. This is just a very basic example... and I don't really even dabble in strategy games all that much. I just don't see how this game is hard. It's fairly simple with a bit of trial and error involved. The RNG complaints are also pretty ???????t... there is even a "wounds" system to manage the RNG... which I discovered at my leisure after continually investigating the ruleset as I played. Have some patience... you definitely don't need to read character guides to suceed. I've learned after playing and reading around that the optimal route is playing a mage as the hero (there's 0 disadvantage since there are basically characters that can cast and characters that can't -- everything else can be developed as you see fit as the game goes on...), and I'm doing just fine.
Alright....Blackguards is definitely a game with no lack for content. In fact, there was enough for me to put in a solid 60 hours. Some of that time was redoing battles and such, but there were plenty of quests and plenty to do in general. The game itself is a curious blend of your prototypical Daedalic adventure/point and click game (when you are in towns, albeit with the hidden object stuff removed of course) mixed with turn based hex battles that use random number generators ala XCOM and other luminous titles. The RNG aspect can make things interesting as occasionally, you will inexplicably miss when you show a 95% chance to hit (actually, it isn't inexplicable..you fell victim to that other 5% lol), but at other times, when your percentage is really low and you go for a desperation power move, and it connects, you totally feel excited and stoked for having taken that risk. Graphically, it wont blow you away. It is reminiscent of other Daedalic games when in cities/towns/etc..., but when in battle, it's more of an isometric approach with movable cameras that can be adjusted to the cardinal directions as well as going from top down to more straight ahead angles. This definitely comes into play during battles as you get different vantage points to make decisions and set actions. Definitely pulls off that middle ages with mysticism look well. The cutscenes are more of the same. Nothing too spectacular, but still effective and definitely in line with the overall game presentation. The story itself is interesting enough. You are framed for the murder of the princess, whom you and a few of your friends grew up with while under the care and apprenticeship of a powerful wizard. You are arrested, and escape with the help of two other prisoners, who become your stalwart companions. From there, you are at first trying to solve the murder and clear your name, but as things progress, you uncover a plot that can destroy the world. At that point, your goals become far more lofty. The story was engaging enough to keep me interested throughout. Which was necessary, as the pace of the game was not very fast. In fact, it took a while for me to get to the point where my characters were able to resolve the more difficult battles without copious retries. The battle system itself was pretty stellar in my opinion. If you have played XCOM or other turn based hex battle system games, you will have a good grasp for this game fairly quickly as far as the combat is concerned. What they don't do is churn out the same basic layout over and over. Each battle gets it's own unique battle map, which was stellar in my opinion. You never get bored from seeing the same map over and over, which even XCOM as guilty of (I keep going back o XCOM as a reference due to its accessibility as a point of reference for this games combat systems). The geography of the battle is often as important as your positioning relative to your enemies. Often, there will be traps, mires/bogs, and other obstacles that will hinder or help you and your enemies. Cover is provided on many maps. Interactive objects also make there way into the battlefield. For example, there might be a stack of barrels that you can knock over to crush enemies underneath or simply block their path (and they might use those same stacks), a stand filled with rocks that can be knocked over, bookcases, oil filled barrels that explode, pools of oil, vats of poison, simple chairs and tables, etc....The battle maps were supremely well thought out in my opinion and kept things pretty fresh. In addition to all that, there might be goals other than simply destroying your enemy, such as trying to fight your way to a specific part of the map, free prisoners to help you fight, defend citizens as they try to flee the battle zone, escort missions, and so on. There was even two instances where complete stealth was necessary and one where you are fighting your way through a cavern while also trying to stay ahead of a poison cloud that creeps slowly forward behind you. So much variety. It was really quite impressive. The quests were pretty standard fare for the most part. Go find this missing person, please retrieve this item and possibly take it to somebody else, find out what this person or that person is hiding, intercept shipments, and so on. They were fun, and if you play RPG's, they are par for the course. However, they were much easier to finish and never dragged out. Short and to the point as it were. I had a lot of fun with them, and finished every quest the game had to offer.The main quest itself was pretty interesting, as I mentioned before, and kept you moving forward. The pacing itself was pretty slow. In fact, the first few hours of gameplay might dissuade some people from continuing on. It takes a while for the game to start really sending you places, and it also takes a while for you to be able to upgrade your equipment and abilities. However, once you get past that initial stage, the game never stops moving forward, even if it is at a slower tan normal RPG pace. I wouldn't get discouraged by this. Once it really got going, I never looked back, although I did break up the gameplay by taking a day off in between sessions to play other types of games. I think that approach benefited the gameplay here, as it helped me to stay interested. The reason I mention this is because, on top of all that, this game is absolutely combat focused and is quite grind-ey. In fact, you will pretty much need to grind out every battle to level up enough to have a reasonable experience later in the game. Fortunately, even if you wrap up all te quests, there is the option to do gladiator fights whenever you want (after you become the champions of the gladiator ring), which will fill out any necessary experience and give you extra cash to spend on potions and such, which you will definitely need to do. Healing and mana potions (they don't call it mana, but same thing) are an absolute necessity, and especially towards the end of the game, you will want to have as many as possible. You cant have too many, and they don't carry any inventory weight with them, so there is no reason not to keep yourself well stocked. The only other things I ever really spent my coins on were arrows and the occasional armor upgrade. You will find plenty of weapons, poisons, etc...throughout the game and shouldn't need to buy any after maybe your first couple upgrades. At a certain point, those all become more than plentiful via combat spoils. You do have party encumbrance, but I never really found it to be an issue, and went over several times, lol. As far as the inventory system goes, it's pretty simple...you have your various clothing slots (which equate to pants, shoes, gloves, shirt, and hat). You have three weapon loadout slots (during battle, you can switch between the three, but each switch counts as a turn). Each loadout has two hands available, so one loadout might be sword and shield, another might be bow and arrows, another might be a greatsword, etc...You also wear a belt which can have as many as 4 slots available (depending on the belt itself). Each slot will hold one disposable item (potion, poison, grenade (equivalent), or throwing weapon).
Lengthy game, with enjoyable unique combat. Abilities and attacks are able to cause wounds that will decrease stats in battles and choosing to focus more on attacking or on defense by changing how characters assign their skill points to their weapons weapons adds more strategy to the fights. You can switch someone to a much more defensive stance when needed and then change to something more appropriate if the situation changes. Story isn't that interesting and while characters might have a few funny moments they are mostly forgettable, the plot does start to get more interesting further into the game and has multiple endings. The game has some pointless elements like needing to rest or pay for an inn to regain magic points, which regenerate while in battle but for some reason won't once the fight is over, or you might be forced to look for arrows to buy all the time as you can run out from using your attacks in battle.
Blackguards is an odd mix of Civilization and Fire Emblem. Unfortunately, the Fire Emblem battle controls feel awkward and the battlefield is far too small to justify it when more troops are on the field. On top of that, it's far too shallow to serve as an alternative to Civilization. It would be a decent game for beginners to the strategy style of games, but disappointing otherwise.
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