|Dev: Daedalic Entertainment|
|Pub: Daedalic Entertainment|
|Release: January 24, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
Another key feature that keeps the gameplay fresh is that there are no recycled maps. Every time you engage in an encounter, the battlefield feels fresh with new obstacles, some that may even surprise you, such as stalactites that suddenly fall on you from a cave ceiling. They are fixed, three-dimensional maps that can be panned but not rotated, though each accurately depicts the setting with exquisite craftsmanship from the art department. The character models and environments lack fine detailing, and the animations are protracted, though these criticisms are hardly detrimental for a turn-based RPG. The game offers you a Hotkey-bar to place frequently used skills, and the character menus are easy to navigate, however the action wheel in combat is a bit of an annoyance, often having me reselect my actions.
There are plenty of nice touches with regards to the audio. Cityscapes are filled with appropriate ambient noises like bushes rustling, townsfolk chattering, and birds chirping. Even small things, like the crowd cheering after a kill in the gladiator's arena, and booing when a character is healed, incites a nod of approval. The voice acting is competent, though it is burdened with only a few actors voicing numerous characters, with little change in inflection to distinguish them. The music tracks were short but well orchestrated, and I particularly enjoyed how it crescendos in battle to denote whether victory or defeat is close at hand.
A multiplayer feature is decidedly absent from Blackguards. The game does fine as a single-player campaign, but the one element that could have boosted the value of the game considerably is user-created content. Everything from map and enemy generators to multi-tiered modules could and should be implemented for players to create their own adventures and upload them for others to play. Considering how tight the game follows The Dark Eye, and the d20 format in general, Blackguards could have been the go-to game for any pen-and-paper RPG enthusiast to translate a story into a video game. Adding an adventure creator, and possibly allowing multiple players to participate as a cooperative adventuring party is where I personally believe this game should go, and where it would thrive.
Daedalic may have had the intent to spin a tale of treachery and malevolence with Blackguards, but from the outset you'll find that each character has a conscience that is rarely tested, ultimately weaving an only slightly less-than-virtuous tale. That being said, every encounter is exciting and challenging, and the massive amount of class tailoring gives you plenty of reasons to replay the adventure and sample different character choices. It's a great foundation, especially for a game developer not accustomed to the genre, and I am eager to see if Daedalic can do anything more with the series, be it with a sequel, new content, or tools for players to create their own adventures.
Date: January 24, 2014