Blackguards 2 doesn’t do much to break away from it’s predecessor, but it does strip away the more tedious aspects of its Dark Eye influences. No longer will you have to worry about bad dice rolls or luck standing between you and landing a spell or arrow. With the new system, if you’ve got a clear shot, you’re most likely going to hit your target. This makes combat move quicker and ultimately makes it more enjoyable.
Most battles allow you to choose where to place your troops, giving you the ability to work in the environmental traps, obstacles, and the new cover system into your movements. Battles can still be slow at times and you’ll be spending most of Blackguards 2‘s roughly 20 hours watching upwards of 15 or more soldiers move one at a time. As it is a tactical, turn-based strategy game though, this time can usually be put to good use giving you time to survey the field, plot your teams attacks, and determine whether you even need to launch an attack or simply make a break for the objective. Having the option sometimes to split your forces to accomplish objectives like freeing prisoners or fleeing from a castle, instead of only focusing on eliminating your enemies, made the game a bit more diverse and opened up a whole new batch of strategies.
This time around you play as Cassia, imprisoned under a gladiator arena for years, her freedom comes at a price as you follow her through a downward spiral of madness and lust for blood as she conquers various cities, camps, and strongholds throughout the land. The dialogue you have between the three returning scoundrels from the first game and a few new ones is well written and not often seen in similar games, adding some dramatic depth to a game that otherwise could’ve been one dimensional.
Daedelic has also simplified the skill trees, making it much easier to dive into the deeper customization of your characters without feeling like you have to take notes or punch numbers. The improved visuals and flashier animations also allow you to fully appreciate your personalized team of scoundrels.
Spells feel especially rewarding as you upgrade into more explosive area attacks or crippling defensive abilities, you go from tip-toeing around some encounters, to happily charging head first. The new world map makes it easy to keep track of the areas you control or need to lay siege to and conquering certain areas will give boosts to your team while they’re in your control. Once your main adventure begins and you take control of your first few cities, you must then protect them from invading enemies. This can be rather tedious as you’ll find yourself having to re-take areas you just finished fighting for far longer than you’d like to admit.
Although it may not be drastically different from the first game, Blackguards 2 trims up the edges that it previously left behind. The simplified skill tree and new cover system make combat fun again for long hours between the more tiring stretches of matches. A few pacing issues aside, Daedelic has delivered with this sequel and has thankfully kept the series alive.
“Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”
Editor’s Note: The author was provided a game key by the publisher for the purpose of this review.