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BlackGuards 2: Venture Back to the World of Blackguards



The Characters:

A little over a year ago, Blackguards was released by Daedalic Entertainment. While it did not get the greatest of reviews, it was still a decent game with a good story. Coming soon, Blackguards 2 will continue with characters from Blackguards.

Since Blackguards 2 is set in the same world as the original, it makes sense that the graphics are the same as before. The world is quite beautiful. No matter where you look, you will see that they were careful to make sure to pay attention to even the smallest details. Even the NPCs were carefully designed. Of course, this means that the main characters look even better. Even though it all happened in the beginning, watching the transformation of Cassia from a beautiful royal woman to a hideous diseased creature, both mentally and physically, was quite fascinating. The gameís previous characters who Cassia convinces to join her are all quite unique as well. Theyíre not deformed like her, but they definitely have their own looks.

Daedalic Entertainment is known for excellent voicework and well-crafted dialogue. The interaction between the characters is quite amusing. They can all be sarcastic at times and you never really know what theyíre going to say to each other! Granted, so far I found at least one typo, or rather bad grammar using then instead of than, but this is a preview and I am sure little things like that will be fixed before the actual release and most people wonít even notice those type things. What you will notice is that the characters feel quite real. The way they treat each other feels exactly as you would expect from these people who have only loosely bonded, not through friendship, but through goals of power, wealth, and/or fame.



The Story:

As I mentioned, Blackguards 2 picks up where Blackguards left off. It starts with Cassia. She is a beautiful young woman of noble birth. However, Cassia awakes to find herself in the labyrinth below the arena, but she doesn't know why. The only thing she knows is that she desperately wants out of there. The place is crawling with extremely poisonous spiders and all manner of horrible things. The only person she has to talk to is the old guard high above in the watchtower, but he is of no help either. Cassiaís only choice is to escape the supposedly inescapable prison. Of course, after having been there for years now, Cassia is definitely not the same as when she went in.

When sheís finally out, Cassia sets out to find the few people who can help her on her quest to rule the world, the previous heroes from Blackguards. Since this is a choice-driven game, you can choose who you want to go after and when. From what I can tell though, the end result isnít really affected by your choices, definitely not as much as the game lets you think choices will change things. You can customize the parties you take into battle however you like. You will have town screens and then dungeons. From towns, you can buy items, weapons, learn new skills, and collect information that might or might not be beneficial. Different vendors sell different things so make sure to shop around. The one thing that I really donít like is the shop selection screen. You canít see what equipment your characters are currently wearing when youíre at the merchant. You can see what is in your inventory though, so I found that I would just remove items, go to the merchant, and then re-equip. Thatís quite a bit clumsier than I am used to when shopping in games. Once you are ready, you simply select the dungeon you want to go to and proceed. There is no travel time between places. Once you get where youíre going, youíll choose your starting positions and traps and then begin the battle. Once the battle starts, it is pure strategy as to how you will accomplish the goal.



The Challenges:

Blackguards 2 is purely strategy. You control who you move and where. You will have a specific number of spaces that you can move. You get two turns, but you can only move a certain distance if you want to be able to attack on the second turn. It takes a bit of time to get used to, but the first battles are easy enough that you shouldnít have any problems. Still, I would recommend saving before each battle. Then if you die, you can just start over there. If you do die, you go to the main screen.

Your AP and how you spend it can make the game much easier or much more difficult. There are so many options to upgrade and spend your AP on that it can be quite overwhelming to know where to start. I decided to horde the AP and see if I could choose better after a couple of battles, but that still didnít help. Itíll take weeks of creative upgrading just to see what the various options do. I am assuming that if you played the first Blackguards, then you might have a bit better of an idea, but since I havenít, Iím still fumbling through all of the spells, talents, weapons talents, special maneuvers, and special abilities that you can upgrade with your AP.



Final Thoughts:

Iíll be quite honest; I am not the worldís greatest when it comes to some strategy games. I have a tendency to want to run around and kill indiscriminately rather than plan, but even still, I enjoyed Blackguards 2. I did find myself having to replay some battles several times as Iíd manage to get all but one character out alive, but after a couple of tries, I would get a better idea of what to do when and where. I found that the enemies are not set in their patterns. They will adjust to you, so if you think you can memorize what they are going to do and then run through easier on a second try, well thatís just not going to work. Blackguards 2 is a game that can keep you strategizing for a while. I just wish I had found myself a little more addicted to the plot. The story isnít bad, but there just wasnít anything that grabbed me enough to make me keep coming back. Of course I will keep playing now, and see how the final game ends up once itís out of beta. If youíre looking for a true turn-based strategy game, Blackguards 2 might be up your alley.


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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