Black Legend Review

Developed and published Warcave, Black Legend is an eerie 17th-century tactical strategy RPG that plays upon the elements of Alchemy. With its dour grey graphics based on the architecture of northern Europe, it tries to capture a pessimistic feel of no hope and chaos. With somewhat suspect voice acting, clunky movement and confusing battle logic will this game stand out from the crowd?

Set in the city of Grant, you have been tasked with freeing said city from a corrupting fog that is driving the residents mad. The fog was created by Mephisto, a figure the people of Grant turned to in a time of need to protect them from attack. Although protecting Grant from attack the fog left the city in ruin. From residents losing their mind attacking anyone in sight and members of a newly found cult following Mephisto, the city streets are fraught with danger. You and your party of up to 3 others receive missions from those at the merchants guild to seek out survivors and deal with situations causing harm to the city of Grant and eventually free the city from the foul fog.

The gameplay is that of a standard tactical turn-based strategy game. Those familiar with the like of X-COM will feel at ease here. But what sets it apart from the others is the introduction of the bodily humours related to alchemy. Those reading with an eyebrow raised as they are also unsure what they are will be just as confused as I was. The game tries to explain the humour/alchemy system and it’s hard to explain but for me, there was both too much and not enough information at the same time. They mention certain skill moves apply alchemical humour in a certain colour (albedo/white, negro/black, rubedo/red and citrinitas/yellow) Then they mention combining 2 or 3 of these colours make another colour like crimson or bronze. Once you have applied these humours to an enemy, you are supposed to perform a catalysing attack for extra damage.

It took me a while before I realised the catalysing attack is just the normal attack. It is an interesting new take on how attacks can be boosted by applying the right humours and attacking at the right time, but I don’t feel like it’s explained well enough and I would recommend reading up on alchemy a little first to get a bit more understanding of the concept.

Other than the new alchemy system the rest of the tactical battle plays as you would expect. You take it in turns to attack with the quickest going first. You can move within your range and then you have 3 action points to perform skills or catalysing attacks. If you don’t use up your action points your character, then their turn comes around quicker. Also, I like the fact once you attack if you still have some movement points left you can get yourself out of the way. I don’t like the fact that the cursor you move around is glued to the ground and not free-flowing. Occasionally on areas that have multiple height levels, like stairs or platforms, the camera and cursor struggle to select certain areas without the camera or selecting area flipping out and it just feels a tad clunky. Aside from that, it is a competent tactical strategy game and the various combinations of 15 classes and many weapons keep the combat fresh.

Outside of the combat is where I feel the game is lacking a bit of atmosphere. I understand the architecture and the fog of the city is supposed to make you feel like you are in the 17th-century era, but there is just so much grey everywhere that you feel like most of the city is just the same. Warcave decided against having a map in this game which I feel was a bad choice. The city has a lot of signposts to guide you but running around the city is not the fun part of the game. The grey graphics are not something you can revel in, so running around lost can get old really fast unless you can map out the area in your head.

I have to also mention the voice acting which is walking a tight rope of it almost being so bad that you would just prefer text. Every character’s voice just seems so forced and unfitting like they roped in a family member to give it their best shot. The way the story unfolds doesn’t sit too well with me either. Having completed the game somewhat spoilers the twist at the end didn’t come so much as a surprise but more that it made no sense. Most of the story is about rescuing the last of the residents who have not gone mad. You come across heroes that have been corrupted by the fog who play the part of bosses as such. But most of the enemies are members of a cult of Mephisto who created the fog. It all seems a bit farfetched and with a bit more consideration could have been improved significantly.

Where the game works well is with the weapons and job classes which allow you to learn skills. Then you can use skills learnt in those classes as secondary skills when you are learning another class. It’s not a new system by any means but it’s handled quite well in that it doesn’t allow you to use all the skills you have learned regardless of what class you choose. The skill has to be compatible with the weapon you have equipped which makes sense. Each weapon and armour you find allows you to learn skills for certain classes. These can be dropped by enemies, bought from the merchant or just randomly found in boxes scattered around the city. Playing with the different classes and combing skills was actually a joy for me as it reminding me of the Final Fantasy Tactics games.

I found that Black Legend was lacking some content when it came to the missions. They were so few missions and they were not the greatest. Some have you finding someone in a certain district of the city and like I mentioned before ,with no map or waypoint it was a bit of a needle in a haystack as everywhere looks grey and the same in certain areas. One of the mission types was very badly thought out; you have to scour the town and knock on the doors of houses of the survivors in certain districts. That sounds like a normal mission until you realise you don’t knock on any door. You have run against the invisible wall of all the houses in the area and hope you see a prompt to press the button. This ends up making the missions hard almost thanks to the sheer awkwardness of its execution rather than intentional design.

Conclusion

Although I have listed a few negative points I did enjoy playing the game. If you can overlook the grey graphics, poor voice acting, bizarre storyline and awkward missions then there is still a game that I found fun to play. Learning different classes, skills and the alchemy system was fun for me and I sure fans of tactical strategy games can find joy here too. I just wish they put the same amount of effort they put into the combat system and functions as was put into the other parts of the game.

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This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox One console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.
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Good
  • Alchemy system is interesting to learn
  • Lots of different skills to learn
  • The combat is enjoyable
Bad
  • The storyline made no sense to me
  • Voice acting lacked effort
  • Not enough missions or side missions
6.4
Okay
Gameplay - 7.5
Graphics - 6
Audio - 5.5
Longevity - 6.5
Written by
Gaming, or, games in general, are in my blood. Just shy of an addiction but still an obsession. From opening my mind on the Commodore 64 I have kept up with the generations of gaming, currently residing on the Xbox One. Gamertag: Grahamreaper

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