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Taking The Black: Deponia Dev's Turn-Based Blackguards

Decorated general Bitey R. Wolfington's tactics quickly became renowned for their predictable nature, but were no less effective as a result.

Hey, so, Deponia, right? It’s pretty OK. The first lushly drawn adventure was worth a few laughs (at least, between all the thinly veiled sexism and crudeness), and the second one, er, significantly less so. Still though, Daedalic is by no means untalented, so its new project, a dark fantasy turn-based strategy called Blackguards, definitely inspires curiosity. For better or worse, humor appears to be taking a backseat this time around, especially given that you’ll be stepping into the sullied shoes of a convicted murderer. It’s a premise that certainly could wind its way down some fascinatingly gray trails, but there’s always the danger of venturing into grimdark-for-grimdark’s-sake territory.

Of course, at the heart of it all, we’re still dealing with a turn-based strategy here, and without rock-solid fundamentals, those tend to crumble quite quickly. Fortunately, Daedalic’s at least proven itself highly capable of emulating one classic game genre with near-obsessive precision, so this genre jump might not be as unprovoked as it seems.

Unfortunately, at this point, all we really know for sure is that Blackguards will be really, really, really big. According to Daedalic, the finished product will scramble brains and feast on the succulent smartflesh within to the tune of “over 180 individually crafted battle maps full of interactive objects and strategically complex situations.” The plot, apparently, will also be quite involved:

“The player takes on the role of a convicted murderer who must use the help of a team of more than questionable characters to save the world from a dark menace. Through this wild chase throughout the South of Aventuria, the world of The Dark Eye, there is more to fight than vicious creatures. Chapter by chapter you’ll encounter a story full of intrigue and surprising twists. Time and time again, the moral compass of the player will be tested.”

Wait, is that specific portion of South Aventuria called The Dark Eye? If so, is its dark menace even darker than regular dark menaces, seeing as the baseline concept of “dark” is probably just normal around there? Also, how much dark could a darkchuck chuck if a darkchuck could dark dark Darkwing Duck?

Blackguards is going to be dark, I think, is what they’re trying to say.

That said, the on-paper description does sound like a laundry list of Things Everybody Wants from this sort of game. Here’s hoping Daedalic adopts a measured, game-specific approach, and not one rooted in obligation. Also, I hope its wolves and dead people aren’t always staring at me like that because it’s making me feel really uncomfortable.

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Nathan Grayson

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