The original Blackguards 2 was released in 2015 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC by developers Daedalic Entertainment. I mention this immediately because those who are looking for a modern story, RPG mechanics, and graphics will not find that with this game.
Fortunately, if you have a Nintendo Switch and are looking for a portable RPG to keep you busy, then Blackguards 2 manages to bring old-school strategy RPG with depth to its gameplay and story.
Players will begin their journey as Cassia. She was imprisoned in an underground arena’s labyrinth under mysterious circumstances. This entire section plays as the game’s tutorial to show players the basics until she eventually escapes and seeks out revenge by recruiting the most powerful and influential people in the land.
The overall story of the game and development is done very well and reinforced by excellent voice acting. Many RPG text-based dialogues back in the day were sometimes trivial or tedious since the characters’ emotions are hard to convey by text alone. The superb voice acting helps drive the story’s value and weight of each character’s struggles, motivations, and personalities in this 30+ hour adventure.
As any traditional RPG, Blackguards 2 has a rich array of weapons, armor, equipment, and skills to upgrade your characters with:
Melee weapons: One- and two-handed swords, axes, maces, spears, daggers, shields.
Ranged weapons: Bows, cross bows.
Armor types: Leather, plate, cloth.
Each weapon has a damage type which helps determine damage to certain enemy types such as stab, blade, and blunt modifiers. There are also resistances for characters and enemies such as magic, poison, and fire to add a bit of extra strategy thought to each enemy encounter.
Dungeons and Blackguards
Overall gameplay is solid and simple. It reminds me of old-school dungeons and dragons with the specific stats and rolls for an attack, initiative, etc.…only with a strategy grid that allows certain movements. You can even move double the range but sacrifice any other actions you would take during that character turn.
There are a lot of classic spells like fireballs, lightning, fire spear, and wind attacks to knock your opponents off their feet. This causes enemies to essentially miss a turn. If spells aren’t your thing, you can focus on dual wielding for that extra melee damage or build up your ranged attacks with stronger crossbows and longbows.
Like to be a healer class? Well, although there are healing spells, there aren’t enough to really be a “healing class”. However, you can focus on debuffs and buffs for the rest of your teams. There is essentially a good variety of skill trees, spells, traps, and items to keep you busy and thinking about your next fight. I really did appreciate the simplicity of it all while still being able to feel like a real strategy RPG.
Even more interesting is the world map. Again, simple interface but with a focus on territory control. Players will be able to attack territories to take over all the realms. Sometimes those territories you do own will be attacked and players must defend them in creative ways.
Master your strategy
There are a very good variety of well-designed enemies. Humans and monsters equally. Still, some enemy encounters I found to be unfairly difficult while other confrontations were pointlessly easy. Some battles go on way longer than it needs to. This kind of imbalance can be a bit frustrating. It makes me wish they had a skip button for an enemy and/or character animations to just get it over with. Luckily, there is at the very least a speed toggle to make the battle movements a bit faster.
Daedalic has done a great job developing Blackguards 2 in 2015. Now that it is finally available for those who want RPGs on the go, it is a great option. I will however mention that the texts can be too small to read for some because of the screen and the action wheels can be difficult to maneuver with small joysticks. Regardless, I feel it’s something that can be overlooked. Most strategy games can be complex, yet Blackguards 2 manages to be simple yet rich in combat, story, and content. Daedalic does very well with fantasy storytelling. It’s no wonder they’re now working on Lord of the Rings: Gollum. Another fantasy adventure that I will be sure to check out sometime in the future.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Blackguards 2 for the Nintendo Switch provided by Daedalic Entertainment.