Publisher: Warcave, Warcave BVBA
Genre: RPG, Turn Based
Platform: Nintendo Switch (Also available on PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, Xbox Series X and Series S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5)
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 25/03/2021
A code was provided for review purposes.
Ye Olde X-Com
It’s dark, it’s foggy and there is blood on the streets. Welcome to Black Legend on the Nintendo Switch, a tactical turn-based combat title with a few twists on the usual tropes of the genre. Think of it like ‘ye olde X-Com with an emo makeover.’ A strange, madness-inducing fog has crept over the city of Grant and it is up to you and a team of capable mercenaries to aid the struggling resistance and eliminate the devastating fog.
Using a mixture of standard turn-based battle techniques and an alchemy system which is, quite frankly, superb. You must overcome your foes, unlock new classes and delve further into the thick, maddening fog. Black Legend is a newfangled mix of a semi-open-world map with turn-based, grid battles blended in. It’s a nice mix that does feel a bit out of the ordinary and fresh. It did take a little to get your bearings due to the game lacking a proper map. As soon got used to the layout of the land and started paying attention to the signs in the streets, I was motoring about like a historical Lewis Hamilton.
Black Legend, Dark Legend More Like
One of the first things that struck me was how dark Black Legend was, I don’t mean in a tonal sense but just how black and dank the game’s overall presentation was. This quirk is detrimental to the game but does fit the overall aesthetic the title is looking for. On the plus side, the game has a very unique and eerie appearance but this also makes enemy units sometimes hard to see and especially on the Nintendo Switch in portable mode, makes some of the environments hard to distinguish. I had to adjust my brightness to compensate. Am I getting old? Probably.
When I first started playing Black Legend, I will be honest with you, I was not overly enamoured by it. It felt murky, slow and I was missing that ‘hook’ to make me want to keep picking up my Nintendo Switch. Eventually though, once I got to grips with the class system, the battle system and even more so, the alchemy system, things started to click. I found myself really getting into how to combo your abilities together and kill those pesky cultists faster but more importantly, with a more elaborate style. Using more varied techniques and more extensive tactics.
A Sweet, Sweet, Combat System
The battle system in Black Legend, is, in my humble opinion, the game’s best asset. You unlock more classes as you progress: each of these classes uses different weapons, have different abilities and talents, nothing really new so far. However, as you use these classes there are some abilities, after using them, that you can transfer to other classes. You can create a class just for your playstyle in a Frankenstein-like manner. Hwa-ha-ha, my class is ALIVE!!!!
Even better than that though, the alchemy system is absolutely what kept me playing the game. Some skills, weapons and tools apply a coloured marker to enemies, called Humourism but they are not funny in any way, which is weird. Once you have combined certain colours together, you can unleash a catalyzing attack and cause massive damage. It sounds complex and it did take me a little while to get into but when you do, it turns every battle into a chess-like puzzle. A chess-like puzzle with gunpowder, poison and punches to the kidneys. Awesome.
It Takes a While to Click
I think it took a while to adjust to this system because when you first start the game all four of your agents are mercenaries. The mercenary does not have many skills that can apply these coloured debuffs so the system seems a little disconnected. Once you start to unlock more classes, blend together the skills and unlock more abilities that feed into the alchemy system, things start to get very interesting. Each battle became a test of how I could inflict each enemy with coloured debuffs and how I could kill them quick. The coloured buffs stack and with a bit of planning, you can take out opponents very swiftly. Once I could apply all four Humours at once, I could one-shot some enemies. Feel my alchemical power!
You do have to be careful with this system too as it does not only affect your enemies. Your characters can also be inflicted with various ills too. Luckily I unlocked a class ability that allowed one of my geezers to clear the colour coded debuffs and negate taking massive damage. You can see now how the battle system, after some initial adjustment turns into something quite unique and special. I really enjoyed plodding through each encounter, using my abilities and alchemy to my advantage. It was all very moreish.
Black, White and Red
On the presentation side, which I have touched on briefly earlier, I quite liked the striking contrast between the dark, monochrome graphical style and the red representation of the enemies’ area of vision. This, unfortunately, makes seeing some enemies difficult, some environments very hard to distinguish and the small font of everything certainly does not help. It is better when docked on the TV but I played mostly on my Nintendo Switch Lite, in portable mode. That is how I roll. I have good eye-sight so I was OK but I do see people with poorer eyesight having issues.
The sound work in Black Legend is a weird one: the voice acting was not bad, the sound effects were average and the music nearly non-existent. The music is there but I found nothing that ramped up the feeling of dread in battle or anything to amplify the story moments, the music was just there. Overall I found the sound design to be quite lacking, I like music in-game to be memorable and amplify what makes the game great. Unfortunately, that was not the case here. It was not bad by any means, just not very interesting.
Performance-wise, I had very little issues with Black Legend. Aside from a few frame drops here and there and a weird tutorial that showed me PC controls for some mysterious reason, it all ran rather well. I had no crashes or game-breaking issues to speak of really. The game’s issues stem from graphical and UI missteps and I am sure they can be improved in the future with a patch.
Fun But A Sometimes Foggy Production
Overall, after initially getting used to the fabulous alchemy system, weird UI and graphical decisions I had fun with Black Legend. The star of the show is, without doubt, its unique combat system and blending the correct classes in your team to extinguish enemies quickly. While the world and exploration felt a bit lifeless at times, the combat system more than made up for it with its puzzle-like nature. If you have any sort of vision issues I would recommend playing on a large TV or with your Switch brightness turned up, otherwise, you will be left heavily squinting at your small Nintendo Switch screen.
I would not recommend this game to everyone but if you love turn-based combat systems, you will enjoy this one. Fans of X-Com and games of that ilk will fit right in but unfortunately, with all the other lacking elements, I struggle to recommend it over other games of this type. Yes its combat system is unique and fun but the world, music, graphical style and UI slightly go against it. Unfortunately, the great combat system of Black Legend gets fogged over by the game’s few shortcomings and it deserves more than that.
Rapid Reviews Rating
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