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Posted by on Dec 13, 2013

Preview: Blackguards

Preview: Blackguards

Daedalic Entertainment makers of games such as The Deponia Series and Journey of a Roach have released a turn based RPG onto Steam allowing gamers to buy to gain early access to the game. Currently two chapters are available to play with the remaining three available once per month going forwards. It is priced at £18.98.

The game starts how most RPGs should start by creating your character. You’re given the option of three classes, Warrior, Mage or Hunter. This determines your specialty in battle whether it be melee, magic or ranged. You’re given the option of gender and a choice of five different looks. Once named your adventure begins. We enter the world to witness the death of a princess and your character accused. Your first mission is to break out of prison and then the main story is to prove your innocence.

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While breaking out you gain help from a very grumpy dwarf and a mage who doesn’t seem like the type of guy you should trust. The two offer you the chance to learn more about the world and help you in battle. The characters are quite typical companions and I found the dwarf Naurim a bit tiresome and unoriginal. The mage Zurbaran made for a much more interesting travel companion with his back story being full of intrigue.

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Battle is where the bulk of the game has been lovingly created. Daedalic have taken the time to make sure battles are beautiful and compared to the rest of the game they definitely are. The battles are based off of The Dark Eye RPG system. I’ll be honest I’m much more of a Dungeons and Dragons guy so this was a new system to me. It seems to work on similar mechanics so you won’t take too long to get up to speed.

Battles are played out on a hex grid and characters act based on initiative scores. You’re taught early on of a great mechanic in the ability to wait. Allowing the enemy to make their move so you can react to them can really help in battle. Early battles with limited supplies aren’t the most exciting but the game has a steady pace and soon you start to be able to buy and find equipment to strengthen your squad up.

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The maps used for battle are brilliant, this isn’t an X-COM: Enemy Unknown sort of affair, there are over 180 in the game and each is designed with the story in mind. Each looks unique and even better, they contain objects that can be interacted with to help out. For instance early on in the game when breaking out of prison one map allows you to unlock jail doors so that other prisoners will join the fight and help you defeat the guards. Clearly with no concern for what sort of criminals you’re letting out but I like to think they are all political prisoners wrongly jailed for trying to create a democracy.

Characters don’t level up as traditionally they would, instead they gain AP tp spend on attributes or abilities. This allows for a large scale of customisation based on your style of gameplay. I like this way of strengthening characters and there’s a nice touch of showing how an attribute increases your stats when highlighting one.

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One thing I was disappointed in is the way towns are presented. They are 2D scenes with characters you can interact with. Your standards are there, there’s an inn to rest at and a shop to purchase a variety of things. The bigger places have a separate stall for weapons and armour which provide different and more often than not better equipment. Conversations use text boxes with voice overs for everyone in the land, including the innkeepers who usually only have one line. The nice thing about conversations is there are options for your companions to talk instead of you, which is how an adventuring party would be. This works in your favour as some characters are better off with conversing to specific people and it also helps them have a personality.

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I can’t say I overly enjoyed this game, the battles are the main focus and the story and towns seem to just be a mechanic used to get you from one battle to another. The battles have plenty to keep you in the game though, they are dynamic and difficult at times. That’s a great reason to stick with this game. If you love series such as Fire Emblem, then this move to a bigger machine might just be the one for you. The early game battles are a bit click attack and repeat, but if you stick with it you’ll be rewarded with a diverse and challenging battle game.

Andy Jones

Andy Jones plays games and is a big fan of commas. He also plays board games and card games and at times is a bit too liberal with the words epic and awesome. You can mostly find him in London if you're about.

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