A dark Victorian adventure that changes up the turn-based strategy genre with a robust class system and innovative combat mechanics.
A strange mist covers a seaside town, an evil cult shrouded by mystery, an alchemist’s quest for forbidden knowledge; each seems like a call to action for any adventurer seeking to become a hero worthy of legends. Yet how would such bravery persist after crossing into a city whose residents include the likes of radically violent fanatics, flesh eating monsters and unfortunate townsfolk who would prefer to starve to death with their families at home in peace? These are only a few of the challenges that await in the story of the turn-based strategy game Black Legend.
The Legend begins in the free city state of Grant in a pre-industrial Victorian age, with an appearance similar to Bloodborne or Dishonored. The city once flourished and conducted commerce overseas with the protection of its trade partners but since the outbreak of war between rival nations, famine and poverty have since left Grant alone to its own devices. To darken the mood further, an alchemist in search of answers has concocted a mysterious brew so strong that it unleashed a dreadful and diseased fog upon the city. When the mist spreads chaos throughout Grant, those who would follow the cult of Mephisto seek only to offer it blood.
Your customizable main character and party are dispatched to Grant seeking a royal pardon for the crimes you’ve committed against your king. Your freedom will only be granted once you liberate the city in the name of the king from the evil fog that plagues it. As it turns out, many would choose death over being forced to enter the city itself. Bands of mercenaries and soldiers have been brought to free the city but on each occasion were lost to the cult and the blighted fog alike.
Black Legend beautifully presents its grim and dark adventure hook though calculated and strategic turn based combat encounters. Instead of choosing your next battle like most turn based strategy games, players are encouraged to freely roam the city in search of helpful items and clues, but will usually encounter violent cult members and flesh eating beasts giving you the option to seek or avoid combat. Characters progress by learning how to use an unusual variety of job classes and their respective abilities. New Classes and abilities are acquired through equipping new gear found and purchased throughout your journey. After gaining enough experience, the skills can be utilized more freely as cross-class combinations, which creates a wonderful flexibility and diversity in grinding toward different character builds. Consumable items like Throwing knives, various grenades, and alchemical concoctions will prove useful as they don’t use movement or action points and offer important strategic options during pivotal moments in battle.
In addition to the usual status buffs and debuffs you might find in similar games, there is also a battle mechanism involving 4 wonderfully strategic color coded alchemical “Humorous” stacks that are applied by the various combat abilities. When properly combined on targets and “catalyzed” by another action,complimentary colors will combine in use and hit for excessive amounts of damage. Often consumables like throwing knives can add a much needed stack at a pivotal moment during combat and change the flow of a battle. Creatures and characters bodily alchemy is conveyed similar to opposing elements like fire and water in other games, and is a refreshing strategy element whether it’s used for or against your party
Outfitting your party with items and abilities offers the satisfaction of solving a puzzle, but in preparation for battle. Being able to cross-class abilities in different job classes is a satisfying reward for fighting off beasts and Mephistians while exploring. The items you find amongst the chaos and the spoils of battle are randomly generated and enemies will repopulate with different weapons and tactics with progress. Black Legend’s classes and abilities are unlocked based on the gear you have available, even looting familiar gear or consumables can bolster your party enough to possibly survive its next encounter. Otherwise encounters that might seem petty for a prepared party of prisoners seeking pardon can become a deadly game of three dimensional chess.
There is a dramatically dark story element to Black legend that drives the party onward unto the perils that await them. The mysteries surrounding the once free city-state of Grant are sure to convince even the most cowardly players to press on into danger. For those who enjoy a more dangerous experience, extreme difficulties are available with less saving and healing features but the normal settings present a balanced challenge where victory is an achievable struggle, especially when considering the variety of attack options presented by the alchemy stacks and cross class abilities used not only by your party, but by your foes as well.
While the story and dialogue with npc’s is as immersive as good role playing games should be, the roughest part may be getting to know the game’s controls and mechanics. Unless you’re playing on mouse and keyboard, navigation around menus may be awkward at first and unfamiliar when compared to other 3D games in the genre. Because mistakes can prove fatal for the party that wants to survive, pressing the wrong button without realizing the consequences may make you wish you had saved sooner. For stealth fans there is no way to sneak up on your enemies to gain the element of surprise while free roaming, but bonus damage is rewarded for flanking or attacking from behind while in combat. The introduction to the game’s mechanics is straightforward as combat is summarized via text pages during an initial encounter with your first ally. While it may not be the most nurturing for new or unfamiliar players, it is exciting to reveal just how deep strategies can become in every new encounter.
Black Legend is a solid entry to the turn based strategy genre full of mystery and intrigue. The jobs, skills, and combat will strike at the heart of any Dungeons & Dragons or Warhammer fan. What it might lack graphically in fog drenched visuals it more than makes up for in the flesh and bone of its combat encounters and appealing horror story.Those who can adapt to the tactics and strategy involved will find a deep and rewarding experience through learning its strategic alchemy based combat and revealing the mysteries of the cult of Mephisto.
-Dark and gripping story.
-Free roaming for loot and fights.
-Innovative “alchemy” combat system.
-Cross classing jobs and abilities is unique.
-Some motion/graphics glitches.
-”Into the fire” style tutorial.
– Unfamiliar default controller layout.
– Misty grey graphics hide details and lack visual appeal.
-Average sound design/soundtrack.
3 out of 5
Playstation 4 review key provided by Warcave Studios. Black Legend is out now!