If you are into throwing all kinds of magic and are a fan of turn based games, then you should be on the lookout for Blackguards 2.
The first thing to keep in mind about Blackguards 2 is that Daedelic Entertainment apparently decided that if it ain’t broke, it shouldn’t fix it. This is in regards to the company’s earlier release of the original Blackguards. This game is rather obviously the sequel to that rather well met and well-reviewed PC game that has gamers going on a grand point and click adventure. The problem is that there are some things that were broken with the first title, and it seems as if not fixing them only made them broken a little bit more in this followup.
The story opens with the player taking on the role of Cassia, who has been imprisoned for reasons that someone who just picked up and played the game for the first time wouldn’t know or understand. It appears the game is setting players up to find out if there was a reason for her very long imprisonment, but there isn’t much of a payoff for quite a while. It almost appears as if the writers of the game knew they wanted a tortured creature to take center stage of the adventure but didn’t do quite enough work to decide what the backstory would be.
"Moving is as simple as pointing and double clicking on the tile you want to move to, the item you wish to operate (such as a number of levers that will open doors and release bridges) or fight enemies."
This part of the game also serves as a kind of tutorial as you lead through Cassia through a number of different labyrinths, apparently just because she wants to go through the mazes. The story behind this part of the game isn’t remotely flushed out, nor is it told well enough for players to get a full grasp of what exactly is going on. After getting through a number of different labyrinths, Cassia ends up realizing they apparently only lead her back to her cell. Here she whiles away the years (the game tells us many have passed) becoming horribly disfigured thanks to the effect of some of the creatures she does battle with as she attempts to escape through the mazes.
Eventually, she also apparently starts to lose her mind, and we begin to wonder whether she is eventually going to turn into a kind of anti-hero. Whether Cassia will eventually turn into a warrior princess, you first get to take on giant spiders and skeletons with little more than a wooden club. As you win these first few battles, you also learn the control scheme, which is simple on its face, but becomes more difficult as the battles go on.
This is where the game massively succeeds and also falls a little short. Moving is as simple as pointing and double clicking on the tile you want to move to, the item you wish to operate (such as a number of levers that will open doors and release bridges) or fight enemies. As the game progresses, right clicking offers up a ton of different options such as casting spells, going into a defensive position and ending your turn. Blackguards 2 architects did this part right, because there is more than a little strategy associated with moving. You can only move a certain number of spots in any given turn, and there are some traps that will be sprung in the wrong tile.
"At the beginning of the game, this is just a one on one or one-on-two scenario where you are basically just bludgeoning at an opponent or two in order to see just how quickly you can lose health points and how much damage you can do to an enemy with some very basic attacks."
When moving around some of the map areas, the game’s scale is quite impressive and Daedelic did a good job of working around this by allowing you to zoom into different parts of the map once you reach those points. The art style for Blackguards 2 is identical to Blackguards (unsurprisingly), and this is definitely a checkmark in the “positive” column for the game. Moving and finding different ways through any given map is a large part of this game, but battles, are where the Blackguard 2’s bread is buttered.
At the beginning of the game, this is just a one on one or one-on-two scenario where you are basically just bludgeoning at an opponent or two in order to see just how quickly you can lose health points and how much damage you can do to an enemy with some very basic attacks. As Blackguards 2 goes on, and Cassia makes some much-needed allies, the battles become much bigger in scale.
Eventually, there can be as many as 15 different characters going at one another. These battles are another big part of the strategy Blackguards 2 asks players to use. The character needs to be positioned in just the right spot in order to make an attack and in order to move away from attacks if they are low on health points.
Just like in the regular maps, there are some pitfalls your heroes will fall into that can get them quite hurt or even killed. The monsters and villains also encountered become quite a bit more formidable, and this can lead to some incredibly long battle scenes. The further in Blackguards 2 I ventured the more extended amount of time I realized I needed to dedicate to getting out of a location alive. This is good if you are very much invested in long lasting battles. This is not so good if you are attempting to move onto another part of the story.
"By and large, Blackguards 2 is a game that is going to appeal to a certain type of gamer. If you love throwing around all kinds of magic and if you love the kind of turn-based adventure games Blackguards 2 evokes, then this is right up your alley."
The good news for those who enjoy time-consuming skirmishes is that the story isn’t really good enough to want to rush through and move to the next plot point. The battles, the many powers you can pick up and the scenery are by far the best parts of Blackguards 2. This is, in fact, another spot where the game falls very short. There is no real explanation as to why characters suddenly have the ability to cast rather complex spells. Usually a throwaway line about reading a book for a while gives the character the sudden skill of throwing flame or bringing down a lightening strike.
By and large, Blackguards 2 is a game that is going to appeal to a certain type of gamer. If you love throwing around all kinds of magic and if you love the kind of turn-based adventure games Blackguards 2 evokes, then this is right up your alley. For me, I was looking for something with a little more in the way of explanation, but that doesn’t make it a bad game. There is still fun to be had in the same way people can enjoy a Michael Bay film. When I allowed myself just to get caught up in the action, I had a good time.