Developer: Drakkar Dev
Publisher: Blowfish Studios / Gamera Game
Genre(s): Adventure, Arcade, Hack and slash/Beat ’em up, Indie, Shooter
Platform: Xbox One (also available on Mac, PC (Microsoft Windows), PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X|S and Nintendo Switch)
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 20/01/2022
A code was provided for review purposes
Is This an Introduction?
What is the first game to come to your mind when you think of top-down shooters? How about hack n’ slash games? What I think of is Halo: Spartan Assault for a top-down shooter and I think of Devil May Cry for a hack n slash game. With Blackwind, you get the best of both worlds, but at a cost. What’s that cost? Your sanity. I have been playing this game now for at least five and a half hours, and I have wanted to just chuck my controller at a wall. More on that later.
But, What Is It?
Blackwind is an Indie top-down shooter, hack ‘n’ slash-style, platformer developed by Drakkar Dev, while the publishers are Blowfish Studios and Gamera Game. It was released on January 20th, 2022 for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Steam, GoG, and the Mac App Store. It supports single player, shared/split-screen, and local co-op. No online multiplayer is available. This game was reviewed using an Xbox One.
What Is the Game about?
Blackwind puts you in the shoes of James “Jimmy” Hawkins, who is trapped inside of a prototype battle armor suit that was developed by his father, Professor Hawkins. The worst part about him being in the suit? It’s during an alien invasion.
Jimmy and his father, Professor Hawkins, were on their way to the colonized planet, Medusa-42, to drop off these AI mech suits called Battle Frames when their ship, the Pandora, was shot down. As the ship is getting ready to crash, Professor Hawkins puts Jimmy into the suit and ejects him. Now, with Jimmy being stuck in the suit, he needs to learn how to use it to survive the invasion, save the people of Medusa-42, and find his father. But, he has an AI companion with him called Blackwind.
Is Blackwind Any Good?
Something that I didn’t like about Blackwind was the repeating dialogue. There were several points throughout the game that dialogue seemed to be repeating itself way too much. You go up to a vent or a locked door, and Blackwind repeats the same three lines with no change in emotion, or in words. The same also applies to Jimmy whenever you perform an elimination. His line is “Who’s the best?” It is very cringeworthy.
I am going to be completely honest here: this game is not good in any way, shape, or form. This game has some of the worst voice acting I have ever seen in any type of modern video game, so much so that I shudder at the forced emotion that these characters give off. While Blackwind tries to incorporate multiple mechanics from different styles of games, it fails to make much of a unique impression due to a lack of innovation.
The combat in this game is subpar. It combines the shooting mechanics of any modern shooter game, with the hack ‘n’ slash mechanics of games such as Devil May Cry. With those two mechanics combined, a lot of the enemies that you’ll fight throughout the game will put up very little resistance as you destroy them. But every so often, you may encounter an enemy that may seem impossible to beat and they’ll absolutely destroy you, or, your mech is going to be special in the feet, and get stuck on some map geometry, which will cause you to die almost instantly to a lot of enemies. The controls of this game feel very unresponsive when fighting. There have been many times where I have been dashing across the map, and I will turn left, my character won’t turn, and it causes me to die almost instantly. Hello?
Die To Live!
Another downside to this game is the camera angles. As far as I can tell, there is absolutely no way for you to adjust your camera, which makes trying to see certain things nearly impossible. There was one part of the game where it should have taken me less than twenty minutes to complete it, but because I was unable to adjust my camera angles, it took me almost an hour. There were even parts where I was fighting scores of enemies, and they would end up retreating off-screen, leaving me with no way to see them. In the end, I had to take a stab at where they would be in the hopes that I could hit them, meanwhile, they would be unleashing salvos on me from off-screen.
Was That a Puzzle I Just Saw? Time To Explore!
There is a small glimmer of light for this game, and that is the puzzles and exploration. The puzzles, combined with the exploration, really help to pass the time, and it felt like no time had passed at all, when actually, several hours had passed since I first started playing.
The puzzle aspect of the game has you trying to figure out ways to get out of certain areas. For example, I had to get out of a gorge and the only way that I could do that was by aligning these concrete pipes a certain way, hitting a button that causes a twenty-second timer to start counting down, and making my way to a platform where I began a jumping puzzle.
The downside to exploring is that it is really easy to get lost, and I mean that. No waypoint points you where you need to go. The only way that you know what you need to do is the objective at the top right of the screen. I wish there was a waypoint, but it seems like the devs skimped out on it. Remember when I said that I wanted to chuck my controller at the wall? This was why.
Upgrades? Is It Free?
Blackwind does have a skill tree that is something akin to the Borderlands series, but it is different in a way. Your skill tree is focused mainly on upgrading the capabilities of your Battle Frame, later on in the game you will be able to upgrade your drones and other abilities. The only way that you can upgrade is by using these little blue orbs, and you’ll have an abundance of them throughout the game. The way that they are collected is by destroying your environment. Essentially, you have a limitless supply of blue orbs. Each skill costs a base amount, and each one after that gets progressively more expensive. Eventually, you’ll be able to have yourself fully upgraded. How much does that cost overall? I can’t answer that question.
Is There a Positive Note?
I will say that out of everything that is wrong with this game, there is a one really good thing, and that is the pop culture references in the achievements/trophies. Blackwind has sixty-three achievements on the Xbox, and a good majority of them have something to do with pop culture, such as “Beam me up, Scotty!” or “I believe I can fly…”. My favorite one by far is an achievement called “These are the droids you’re looking for” which is an obvious nod to Star Wars Episode 4’s scene between Obi-Wan Kenobi and the Storm Troopers.
Final Thoughts and Rating?
Taking everything into consideration above, I will say that Blackwind does nothing to set itself apart from other games of its genre. The combat is nothing more than button mashing, the platforming challenges seem to present too much of a challenge (even for experienced players such as myself) and the story seems a little too bland. There is absolutely nothing about this game, other than the pop culture references, that warrant me keeping this game installed. If the developers were to fix a lot of what is wrong with Blackwind, I may consider reinstalling it in the future.
Because of that, I am going to give it a one out of five. While Drakkar Dev tried their best when they were making Blackwind, they ultimately failed at making a good game, which is unfortunate because I can see a lot of potential for this game to be good. That’s not to say that there won’t be others out there who enjoy this game more than I did. I am just not able to see associating this game with a good time.
Thank you to Drakkar Dev for making Blackwind and giving me the chance to be able to review it. I look forward to seeing what you do in the future.
Rapid Reviews Rating
1 out of 5
You can purchase Blackwind in the Microsoft Store.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.