Earlier this year, I reviewed Blackguards for the PC. It was a darn good tactical RPG based off the Dark Eye tabletop books. It followed a rather strict adherence to the rules, which meant it rubbed some the wrong way. With the upcoming Blackguards 2, Daedalic Entertainment hopes to streamline the mechanics as well as tell an interesting story.
Blackguards 2 will follow the story of Cassia of Tenos. As the story sets out, Cassia is cast in a labyrinth of a dungeon under the coliseum from the first game. Left to rot, Cassia goes mad over the years but also grows more powerful thanks to a rather helpful tome full of spells. Upon breaking out of said dungeon, Cassia begins to work towards her new dream of revenge and world domination. It’s kind of silly, but it could create some incredibly interesting moments I’m sure.
Don’t worry though. Several characters from the first game are back for more. In particular, Naurim, Takate, and Zurbaran all come back to fill vital roles in your party. Even stuck in her prison, Cassia heard tales of their exploits. It’s interesting to see how those characters evolved over the years, as the end of the first game has left them a bit weary.
As far as the game goes, it’s mostly carried over from the first game. You’ll still battle enemies in round based combat on a hexagonal grid. The radial skill system is back and as useful as ever. Let’s not forget the sprawling maps, interactive objects, and traps around every corner. The varied objectives return as well. Sometimes you’re simply trying to run to the other side of the map, sometimes you’re trying to kill everything, and sometimes you’re hoping to find the right path to take in a dialogue tree.
Speaking of which, I’d like to give a shout out to one of the more interesting battles I got to try out. When Cassia is trying to convince Takate to join her team, the bored warrior instead send various animals to try and kill her. There is no end to the enemies. The only way to win is to, between each round, talk to Takate and figure out what you need to say. It’s interesting, and the kind of thing that made the first game so memorable.
It’s not all the same, however. Many of the changes are hardly noticeable, but still have a pretty big impact on how you play. For example, magic hits one hundred percent of the time. This makes building up a mage a far more practical thing than in the first game. In Blackguards, I often had my mages spend a lot of experience in order to learn combat talents. Otherwise, they would often prove useless in battle. Spells were used only when I had no other choice. From what I’ve played in the sequel, you can sling spells with abandon. Well, at least until you run out of mana.
Also changed this time around is that you no longer have to level up your base stats. Now, those stats will upgrade over time automatically. You’re free to spend all of your experience on various spells, abilities, and talents. This certainly helps streamline the game a bit, and will make leveling up your character a less painful experience.
We won’t know for sure just how much these changes will affect the game until the full version in released sometime early next year. Will moving away from the strict adherence to the pen and paper rules help the game, or over simplify it? Will Cassia’s tale prove as interesting as the first game? Personally, I can’t wait to find out. Make sure to come back for our full review when the game is officially released.