Blackguards 2 on PC
Strategy role playing games can be a difficult type of game to pull off. Creating a system of mechanics that allows for players to easily control the tides of battle is difficult on its own, adding an engaging narrative and interesting characters makes things more difficult. Yet, even with that inherent difficulty, there are studios that managed to create truly great experiences. Daedalic Entertainment is hoping to fall into that great experience category with their latest foray into the genre Blackguards 2.
Blackguards 2 puts you into the shoes of Cassia, a young noble woman who was thrown into prison for reasons she can’t seem to understand. You seek to escape the confines of your cell in the hopes of rising up and usurping the throne of those who cast you down. Unfortunately, some strange events happen that cause a change in both you and your plans. That opens up the story and sets you on a journey to find out exactly what is happening to you and why, as you gather forces to help you in your endeavors.
It’s at this point when you begin your search for these forces in the earliest stages of the game that you get your first glimpse of how good Blackguards 2 truly is. The writing is solid through and through. You have a story that rewards those who probe the minds of everyone they meet. The dialogue is quite impressive and allows for many varied choices that provides insight into your companions. Picking certain options while talking to specific individuals can even open up some opportunities you may not have had otherwise. Whether they benefit you or your party, or even a new quest to further some of the plot lines these extra opportunities feel like true additions. Nothing feels tacked on, which lends to the overall depth of the whole experience and makes conversations worthwhile. To sweeten the pot is a sense of humor that you wouldn’t expect but fits Blackguards 2 and never takes away from the tone of the game.
Gameplay in Blackguards 2 is your typical strategy role playing game affair. You move each of your controlled characters and mercenaries within a hex-grid in order to position them within range of either enemy forces, traps, or anything else that may catch your eye. Scattered across levels are treasures, and environmental hazards that can be used to your advantage or make you wish you chose another route. There is also a surprising amount of level variation in both art-style and layout. This variation is one of the game’s strongest points and helps to break up the monotony that has pretty much settled over the genre as a whole.
If you’re looking for battles that require you to think outside of the box in order to get the edge over your enemies, you’ll be happy to know that Blackguards 2 has them in spades. But, sometimes you need something a bit different, after all, strategy shouldn’t only be restricted to decimating your foes. Blackguards 2 tries to mix it up by giving you goals that force you to avoid fighting and/or consider other objectives that may help your cause in the long run. Having to break out some mercenaries in order to bolster your ranks, or make it through a treacherous locale with unbeatable enemies helps to keep a steady flow without allowing the action to grow boring.
Enemy types are plentiful and they will test your perseverance. In some moments, you will find yourself gaining the upper-hand on enemy forces only to be flanked by new enemies entering the fray. Battle will prove to be quite brutal and Blackguards 2 is often very unforgiving to those who act hastily. Luckily, you can easily restart any scenario and use the knowledge you obtained from your failures. Even after multiple defeats, finding the formation that leads you to victory is still immensely rewarding. The steep learning curve helps to build a sense of pride and joy caused by success that is unrivaled.
Of course, learning how to move about isn’t the only way that you will find victory in Blackguards 2. The developers included a deep skill and inventory system that will have you managing experience and gold as you best prepare your army to overthrow your targets. Picking roles for everyone you meet and ensuring that you create a sense of synergy is a focal point of the system. Having complete control over every little thing really gives you that sense of control as well as the added pressure of having to decide who gets the best gear or most important job in battles.
If there is one issue that Blackguards 2 does have is that sometimes the targeting doesn’t seem to always understand you. As mentioned before, the game is very unforgiving at times meaning even one mistake made at the wrong time can cost you your victory. Aiming at a vulnerable enemy in the hopes of getting a much needed kill to only have the game suddenly destroy a box instead can be a bit frustrating. Fortunately enough, this issue doesn’t rear its ugly too often and is often drowned out by the fact that the rest of the game works really well. The fact that there are so many different things to manage yet the game still manages to flow naturally without being cumbersome is pretty amazing.
Blackguard 2 manages to exist as a game that feels like a classic strategy role playing game, and as so much more at the same time. A deep story with great characters, varied quests, deep customization, and great battles make for a must have game. It may be a bit daunting for those new to the genre, but the payoff after the challenge is more than worth it.