In a way, I’m glad that early-2000s-style fantasy RPGs are still kicking about on PC – a game like Blackguards was bread and butter of my reviewing job a decade ago, and I tended to enjoy sitting down with something far too long and involved even if the writing and acting was inevitably terrible. Things are different now though, more so once the glut of Kickstarted ‘old school’ RPGs start to arrive, and we’ve extremely focused fare such as Avernum on one end and mega-glossy Biowarefare on the other, with assorted roguelikes/roguelikelikes lurking somewhere in the far reaches. I really do want a middleground, but not like this.
I know it’s early access, but it’s also just one month from full release. Despite an interesting and uncommonly elaborate combat system, Blackguards feels cheap, stodgy and uncertain of purpose, attempting to make do with one voice actor trying to do a dozen different accents, sloppy translations and a UI about as intuitive as a large hadron collider. It talks and talks and talks and talks and talks, woeful words with hokey, stilted performances, and like a dinner party guest who only has anecdotes about his time selling air compressors in 1974, it thinks if it just keeps talking we’ll somehow become interested.