March of 2021 just hasn’t been a great month in terms of game releases. With the exception of a few exceptional titles such as Forza Horizon 4 (Steam Edition) and a couple of DLC, like Northern Lords for Crusader Kings 3, everything else has been pretty “meh.”
When I first heard about Warcave’s Black Legend, it immediately caught my attention, since I’m a sucker for any type of game even vaguely resembling XCOM. One of the things that drew me in were its greyish, grim settings, and the misty cobblestone streets of some forlorn town. I’d hoped that it would be a sort of Soulslike game, but with turn-based combat.
You play as a single sellsword at first—you arrive at the gates of a town that has been captures by evil forces. Rampant famine and disease is everywhere you look. After you play through a super-simple tutorial you link up with a resistance movement and find out how to take on quests. You create the rest of your small party (who pop out of thin air) and off you go.
Your first battle happens almost immediately. Besides the game’s very dated graphics, this is where I found one of the game’s major flaws. First of all, since the tutorial didn’t explain much, you just kind of stumble though things on your own and hope that you’re lucky.
Right away, I noticed that the combat was played on a square tile set, not the usual hexagon layout that you see in top-down, turn-based games. Therefore, there’s no diagonal combat. There’s also no way to interrupt enemies when they run past any of your characters, even if they have move points left. So, you can literally run right past enemies that face you and attack them from their backsides. Odd.
There is also system of “humors” that is based on the medieval period. With this system, specific attacks imbue enemies with a color and when combined with other colors that complement them, can augment damage from follow-up attacks. Believe me, you’d thank me for being reductive in the description of this system if you actually had to deal with it—it’s fussy and greatly bogs down combat.
Black Legends production values aren’t rip-roaring either. Many indie games show that you don’t have to have a big budget to have enticing graphics, heck I’ve seen some pixilated titles that look better than this. The character and creature models look like they’re like something out of the original Playstation. Actually, I think the original 1995 game, Clock Tower, is easier on the eyes than Black Legend.
Not only are the models shabby, but everything in the game is doused with thick layers of mist. I don’t know if this was done on purpose to hide the lackluster character graphics or whatever, but I had to bring my face darn near within inches on my PC gaming rig screen to see what was going on.
In the end, Black Legend has a pretty cool concept—a gothic, turn-based Soulslike experience set in a creepy town. However, with the game’s over-fiddly systems, opaque (literally) combat, and shoddy visuals and presentation, this is a game that can only appeal to diehard fans of the time period, who don’t mind figuring out fiddly systems. It’s not a bad game, it’s just not for me.
Black Legend has some amazing graphics so you’ll need a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. Therefore, you may just want to invest in a superior gaming rig:
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