by Ingvi Snædal
previewed on PC
Out of the Point & Click Zone
There's something about turn-based, hexagonal, tactical combat that intrigues me. This form of combat is not a matter of reaction time or unit numbers; it's an art. The art of total tactical dominance through thoroughly planning every move to maximize the value of each attack. Almost like an advanced form of chess, only more fun to play. At Gamescom, we got a look at Deadalic's latest game, Blackguards, which takes the developer out of their comfort zone, which usually lies somewhere between point and click.
Blackguards follows the adventures of a not-so-nice fellow who is convinced that his girlfriend was killed by a wolf. He is arrested, suspected of having committed the deed himself, ending up on the torture table being poked and prodded by his best friend. Soon thereafter, a dwarf frees him in order to gain an ally in his attempts to free himself from the prison. The story continues as our anti-hero attempts to discover what really happened to his girlfriend, and why the whole world appears to be going to the dogs.
Characters with character
The whole world of Blackguards is designed around the characters you face and meet. Each character that you enlist to join your ranks will have some issues that prove all too well that nobody's perfect. Drug addiction, anger management issues, and other undesirable personal traits are among the problems plaguing the characters in Blackguards and the world is similarly imperfect and disturbing. The aesthetics of the game are very beautiful, in their own Gothic/horror kind of way, and the battle maps appear to be very intricate and easy on the eyes. The number of locations scattered around the map is staggering, and the game will feature multiple optional side-quests that will help you get valuable extra levels and skill points that will make advancing the story a bit easier.
Battles are not only about flanking opponents, using skills, and having the pointiest sword. Interactive objects in the environment can be used to help you in your attempts to slaughter your enemy while sustaining minimal damage yourself. Some objects can be moved around to provide cover for vulnerable characters like wizards, others can be used to block monster spawn locations, and yet others to inflict damage on enemies. Most maps will have multiple paths to their resolution and the ease at which you conquer them will depend on your cunning and your attention to detail.
Blackguards looks to be a welcome addition to a genre generally dominated by fantasy and historical combat and the dark, gritty game world has an inexplicable allure to it. Daedalic have written some very funny, up-beat point-and-click adventure games in the past and it is nice to see that they appear to be heading in the right direction with this new challenge. I for one will be eagerly awaiting this game to hit the shelves as I have been missing a true test of my tactical resolve. I'm simply too much of an analytical thinker to be able to excel at the more competitive and fast-paced RTS titles dominating today's strategy market.