Leading a small band of despots into a city and taking it over completely is no small task. Slaves, guards, and even mythical creatures will try to thwart your path of destruction, but with superior strategy you will overcome them all. Blackguards 2 is a game centered around Cassia of Tenos, who collects the Gladiators from the previous Blackguards title to assist her with domination of the realm. There are so many unique mechanics at play, such as being able to shoot over the heads of those shorter than you and extremely interactive environments. All this makes Blackguards 2 one hell of a strategic romp. It does fall short in a couple places, but overall the presentation is wonderful. Each level is exceedingly difficult on the first time around, but the fantastic story that unfolds before and after each fight keeps me constantly thirsting for more. Without further adieu, lets delve into Blackguards 2.
As with the original, the story of Blackguards 2 is quite dark. Your main character is painted as completely insane within the first 30 minutes of playing, but she has her reasons. When asked by anyone why she’s out for conquest, she answers “There is no why. Does the wind need a reason to blow?” Hell truly hath no fury like a woman scorned. You are not the good guys in this game, but Cassia’s intentions aren’t entirely based on whimsy either. The odds are stacked against her, but her first order of business is to set free bands of murderers from all the local prisons. Daedelic Entertainment does a great job of exploring a moral gray area. There is a grim feeling to almost everything you see which makes for a fantastic aesthetic. The ominous look is kept up throughout the game, even in levels when the sun is shining bright. The music is good, but slightly understated. I’d like to see a bit more attention drawn to their good soundtrack.
The skill trees have been massively simplified from the original Blackguards, which is a great thing. Spells and skills are now all straightforward, with costs and prerequisites laid out plain as day. Combat is exactly what it needs to be as well, left-click to move and right click to open a wheel filled with options, from spells to taking cover to ending the turn. Strategy is not a term used lightly in this game, characters will move in a set order based on initiative and cannot pass through friendly units on adjacent tiles. My first few matches involved a lot of bungling with characters being blocked in by their cohorts and having to pass the turn. You need to utilize every part of the environment, and your squad if you hope to make it out alive. This game pulls no punches. There is no inventory screen, so health potions can only be used from your belt and this means each hero can only carry one per fight. So use extreme caution.
Overall, I enjoyed Blackguards 2 greatly. The story is bleak, but witty. The characters are well-written, and relatable. I will say that the UI feels a bit clunky with enemy targeting, due to having multiple ways to cast a spell. The tutorial is also unabashedly long, clocking in at about 2 hours with cutscenes included. Lastly, I lament the removal of character creation, which the original Blackguards did feature. Despite its flaws, the game is extremely replayable due to being able to build your characters’ abilities any way you please. Voice-acting, graphics, sound, and story all mesh together beautifully into something that I plan to play again. Big thanks to Daedalic Entertainment for allowing me to review Blackguards 2, and for always offering such fantastic stories. Hope to see Blackguards 3 some day soon.
Summary: Superior 4x strategic fantasy combat with an amazing story.
Final Score: 7/10 for aesthetic, replayability, and story-telling.
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