The 17th-century fictional city of Grant has succumbed to a mysterious, maddening fog. It is said to have been caused by the great alchemist Mephisto, who also provided the antidote to its effects. God complex much? Anyway, this has turned most of the people and dogs (you read right) into a deadly cult of fanatics.
As a result, the rest of the civilians have locked themselves up in their homes for safety. It sounds like a more extreme version of the times we live in now. But who knows what the future holds.
A squad of 4 mercenaries (led by yourself) are hired to help the resistance fend off this threat. You do this by exploring the city to find the source of the fog and put a stop to it.
Can It Run On A Potato?
Black Legend proves that you don’t always need stellar visuals to make an engaging experience. The trailer got slated by gamers for its ‘potato graphics’, with many comparing it to a Playstation 3 title. And they’re right! What they shouldn’t be doing is writing it off. After all, plenty of popular games have simplistic graphics. Just look at Minecraft, Among Us, and Roblox. Unless you’re reading from the future, that is. Let us know if everyone’s drive flying cars yet.
Can’t Fix, Won’t Fix
I’ll address the numerous little UI bugs and graphical glitches that I expect will be patched in later updates:
- Every time the world loads up, the textures are applied a few seconds later.
- Occasionally patrolling enemies will walk into each other.
- Dogs have a jarring walk animation.
- In battle sometimes one of your team, or the enemy, will awkwardly climb random objects.
- When receiving items an icon will appear at the top right corner, in small text that’s difficult to read.
- Recruiting someone to the barracks always creates a clone of themselves.
- Sometimes when using the controller, the cursor gets stuck outside the battlefield. So have to finish the battle using the keyboard and mouse.
- The game crashed a few time during my playthrough.
Whew, those are the main issues anyway. On the plus side, since Black Legend looks like a PS3 game, it’ll run smoother on a low-end gaming PC. The city looks like what you’d expect in the 17th century: dull and dreary. Maybe a little too much. The sea is so grey and lifeless it could be mistaken for a low-quality image. But at least it all fits the theme of a regressing old city.
Prepare For Combat
But let’s take a step back there Bucko. Before you start, there is a limited character creator to mess around with, which is a fun distraction. Then the game begins.
In the city, cultists patrol every corner. Each one is surrounded by a red circle, showing their visibility. It’s a bit daft considering you can stand in front of them, just outside the circle and they won’t see you. That’s RPG game logic for you. Once you are seen though, you are taken to the strategy game screen. Here, you position where you want your troops to be. Then the fight begins. Next, you and the AI take turns controlling 1 of your team members to move and attack. You direct each member in order, so your custom character is always used first. Though that’s not all you’ll be fighting. Occasionally the camera will want to tussle! Afterwards, enemies usually drop loot after being killed.
Figure It Out
To Black Legend’s credit, unlike a lot of modern titles, it doesn’t treat you like an idiot. There’s no convenient map or magic marker that shows you exactly where to go. You have to read the signposts throughout the city and navigate yourself like a normal person. Also, forget about free healing, which is common in RPGs. There’s not even a random bed or healing lady that will make you whole again. Instead, you need to find potions. Or a nail, to hammer a coin into a tree (Don’t ask). Excluding Hard Mode, you can revive a fainted ally. But you’ll struggle to raise money for the revive elixir early in the game.
Black Legend maintains plenty of autosave files. So if you come across a game breaking bug and need to load your last save, you won’t lose much progress.
Don’t Skip The Tutorial
Black Legend makes the mistake of dumping a lengthy tutorial on you for the first ten minutes of the game. As a result, this doesn’t give the player enough time to take in all of the game mechanics.
Instead, there should have been a short tutorial for each game mechanic as you progress through the story. These scenarios would then require you to complete a tutorial each time to make sure you understand all the mechanics. In essence, it’s easier to learn by doing, rather than just reading about it. Ahem. It’s ok to read reviews though.
What developer Warcave does right is they provide an option to skip the tutorial. This is great for returning players. Also, you can access notes in the menu which condense what the tutorials taught you.
Elixir Of Life
What took me a while to wrap my mind around was using alchemy, which you are expected to master. Don’t get too excited. You don’t actually see any ‘hard magic’. To summarise: Abilities can be used to stack 4 different coloured humours on an enemy. Combining a matching pair with a catalysing attack does extra damage. Confused? I don’t blame you. Black Legend doesn’t explain this aspect very well.
And that’s too bad because it’s actually an interesting mechanic that adds flavour to the combat. To further this feat, you can switch any of your members between 15 fighter classes on the fly. As you’d expect, this is a lot. As a bonus, a character learns abilities when fighting as another class, while using a particular weapon after a period of time. Which they can then use when they switch to another class. Still not with me? Trust me, it’s cool.
Though to be honest, even with the variety, combat started feeling repetitive and samey after around 10 hours of playtime. This is due to most enemies using similar attack patterns throughout the game. As your party levels up, so do the cultists. Even so, I found using the same strategy against each wave of these fanatic dealt with them quickly. Later on, the enemies should at least throw a curveball to catch the player off guard. As you can imagine, Black Legend gets easier the further you progress, when it should be the opposite.
I Love Your Accent. Say It Again
Black Legend is fully voice acted. Though some of it sounds like someone putting on a silly voice, rather than having an authentic accent. I personally find it charming but I can see it breaking some players immersion (among other things). I also noticed some of the characters are voiced by the same guy. Bizzarely, he doesn’t even bother to change the inflection in his voice.
Black Legend uses ambient music to convey the misery and dire straights the city has fallen under. Sound effects are fine except in combat, the enemies don’t make any noise until the die.
Despite its flaws I would class Black Legend as a future, dare I say, ‘hidden gem’. “But the graphics and voice acting…”, I hear you cry. Yes, the models are low res for 2021 and they are a bit jittery. That aside, the run-down 17th-century city is designed just how I would expect it to look for that time period. With plenty of shady alleyways to explore. As for the voice acting? Well, it’s an acquired taste.
The main selling point is the gameplay of this Strategy RPG. Switch between 15 classes, all with their own set of abilities and weapons they can use. You also mix different alchemy together and catalyze them on your opponents for massive damage.
There’s plenty of main story missions and side quests, even if they do get repetitive eventually. Enemy types, weapons, civilians and parts of the city all have a bit of lore to them as well.
Look past the game’s faults and you should be entertained for at least a few hours. That’s more than what you can say for some other games.
Summary: In Black Legend, master tactical combat in turn-based style within the art of 17th-century alchemy to liberate a doomed city from a bloodthirsty cult inspired by the great alchemist Mephisto.
Genres: RPG, Strategy
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows (Review Version), Xbox Series X and Series S, PlayStation 5, Xbox One
Initial Release Date: March 25th 2021
That’s All From Me
Does this look like a title you’d want to play? Can a game with underwhelming graphics still be fun? What is your favourite class and ability? Let us know in the comments.
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