Blackguards 2 is a dark game full of sinister characters that portrays the well-built world of The Dark Eye. Its morose tone wastes no time establishing itself within the first cut scene. Developer Daedalic Entertainment’s genuine approach to gloomy subject matter pairs well with the game’s serious approach to turn-based combat, and while there are plenty of opportunities for thinking and strategy Blackguards 2 definitely drags in terms of pacing, both in and out of combat. Patience is key with this title, and if you’re capable of persisting then you might just find yourself a compelling new series.
Blackguards 2 continues where its predecessor left off, exploring the lives of a rag-tag group of misfits and criminals that were previously tasked with saving the world. Where are they now? Who still survives, and how are they dealing with their fame? Of course, since Blackguards truly embraces the bleak, you’ll find that most of the returning characters aren’t well. Some have let their popularity taint their shape, both physically and mentally, while others are left bored with their lives. But returning characters are banded once again by Cassia of Tenos, a character imprisoned in a labyrinth for years. She seeks out the Blackguards, using them to achieve her goals of becoming ruler, even if it’s just for a day.
"Developer Daedalic Entertainment’s genuine approach to gloomy subject matter pairs well with the game’s serious approach to turn-based combat."
Combat is similar to the original Blackguards title. The hex-tiled turn-based strategy will seem familiar to anyone with experience in this style of gameplay, but some of the tedium that came with the original game has been alleviated. Daedalic has revamped the combat to focus more on direct line of sight than internal ‘dice-rolling’ and RNG. Chances are if you have sight of a foe, you’ll be able to accurately hit them. This allows players to focus more on environmental assets and utilize levels to their advantage. It doesn’t make the combat any less challenging, though. Enemies are still relentless, and after the game’s brief introductory levels players will need to quickly learn to utilize tactics in order to succeed.
"Luckily Blackguards 2 breaks up some of the monotony with great settings, well-implemented level triggers and new world map that allows players to retake lost cities."
Unfortunately most of the time I spent playing this game was still dedicated to watching my characters move several tiles at a time across the map. At points I really wish there was a way to speed this process up, and though the gameplay of Blackguards 2 may be a tad faster than its predecessor the implemented movement system still makes for some truly mind-numbing moments. Luckily Blackguards 2 breaks up some of the monotony with great settings, well-implemented level triggers and new world map that allows players to retake lost cities.
Internally Daedalic has also gone to great lengths to revamp character skill trees. They’re simpler this time around, with more well-written tooltips and better layouts that take away the confusion that came with the first game. Don’t worry, there’s no real sacrifice to depth. Players can still choose unique and varied paths for their characters to go on, tailoring gameplay to their play style. It’s all still very methodical, but it’s much easier to understand and grasp the combat, spells, and unique character abilities.
"But those that have the fortitude to sit down and enjoy the depth of combat will be pleasantly surprised, just be patient."
Overall the star of Blackguards 2 is Cassia of Tenos. She is an intriguing heroine and Daedalic has done well documenting her lust for power and descent into madness. Her intertwining relationships with the previous Blackguards characters make for some compelling storytelling, and players that enjoy dark, mature, thoughtful RPG’s will enjoy their time here. Blackguards 2 won’t be enough to ensnare a lot of people, in fact I think most will probably be turned off by its plodding gameplay. But those that have the fortitude to sit down and enjoy the depth of combat will be pleasantly surprised, just be patient.
Review by: Palmer Sturman | Reviewed on: PC