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Blackguards, Our Darker Purpose, and The Long Dark: Three mini-reviews!

February 27, 2015

Dear Reader,

I’ve been enjoying several new games recently, though admittedly it’s hard to compete with my run of Crypt of the Necrodancer, Transistor, and This War of Mine.  However, the three listed in today’s title are all excellent games as well, though – well – like I said.  It’s not a fair comparison to those masterpieces.

Blackguards is a hex-grid turn-based tactical role playing game.  It’s based on a tabletop system I’ve never played, called, I believe, the Dark Eye.  I don’t know anything about the core system, but the experience and development in this game system was quite good, and I don’t have many complaints about the game as a whole.  The concept is that you “get” to play bad guys, something that kept me away from this game until I got it as part of a Humble Bundle.  I don’t like playing evil; I don’t care for the power-madness or revenge fantasies often acted out in such games.  However, the story in this game isn’t really about being evil; you’re falsely accused of a crime and thrown in prison, given no opportunity to speak for yourself before your execution, and decide to escape to find out what really happened.  That you must “break the law” to do so is less and issue of evil and more an issue of law vs. chaos (in a D&D sense), so I really had little problem playing the game.

The story developed well, and the fights were largely enjoyable – and then I hit that spot I too often do where I knew I could beat the game and was told there was going to be a slogfest of like 13 fights on the last board.  I saw that and kind of froze up; I’ve done all the side quests I could find, so I’m super-powerful at this point and just don’t need to finish to know I could finish if I wanted to.  I may, don’t get me wrong, but then again… well, we’ll see.  I know how it’s going to end, I know I could get there, and there’s just so many good games to play!

Speaking of, I started playing Our Darker Purpose, a little Zelda-style gem that’s been a silly blast.  The concept is simple: you’re the quiet kid at a school where the adults have vanished, and the more popular and more athletic kids decided to eliminate you and your kind.  Can you survive long enough to reveal the truth?

Well, I can’t.  At least not yet.  It’s a single-playthrough “rogue-like” game that reminds me of Binding of Isaac crossed with Rogue Legacy, in that each attempt allows you to improve your power and practice and hopefully get further the next attempt.  The art is dark and moody, reminding me of Edward Gorey or Tim Burton with a dash of Lemony Snicket of Series of Unfortunate Events fame.  It’s been great for micro-play sessions (since I can’t get past the third board just yet), and it’s dark mood has humored me in the past few days.

Also within those past few days, I snatched up The Long Dark from a Steam sale.  I’ve played a lot of the horror-survival sims, and to be frank, this one’s not that different.  That said, this one’s pretty different.  Rather than running around a post-apocalyptic zombie wasteland as I did in DayZ and 7 Days to Die, there’s no real supernatural threats here.  Okay, yes, there’s “electro-magnetic disaster effected evil” wolves and bears, but you can turn them off if you really just want to survive and be left alone.  Even then, it’s tough; this game’s environment is the real killer, and being out when it’s too cold will kill you quite quickly (as will standing in a fire you just set because you did a bad job placing it and it ended up beneath you – whoops!).

I’ve enjoyed the art in the game a lot; it’s as beautiful as Skyrim while not being photorealistic, with instead a somewhat surreal art style mixed with a beautiful pallet (reminder: I know nothing about art) – when it’s not a complete white-out while you’re wandering around hoping to God you find some shelter before you freeze to death.  That immediacy – the imminent threat simply of the wind, for example – has largely replaced the real visceral fear of other players I had in DayZ, which surprised me, since I didn’t know if a game could get me to feel that way without the viciousness of real people on the other end.

So all three games have been very enjoyable, and I recommend you try any of them whose design and reviews here strike your fancy.

Until next time,

Stubborn (and about to go play one of those right now)

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