Blackwind, the review of the action sci-fi made in Italy



Will Blackwind be able to carve out its own space in the cauldron of hack and slash? Let’s find out together in our review.

What follows is the review of Blackwind, the latest title of the Catania-based Drakkar Dev. After making their bones on mobile platforms, the Sicilian studio has gained good experience with home systems with War Tech Fighters, a space action in which the protagonist was a mech that seemed to come out of an episode of Robotech. A distant relative of his, tired of floating in the cosmos, has decided to land on an alien planet to resolve a pending issue between greedy terrestrial colonists and native life forms more or less biological. Obviously this is not the plot, but the substance does not change because the center of action remains an exoskeleton with artificial intelligence and controlled by a young boy.

However, the perspective changes, with a camera that is no longer positioned behind the robot, but a bird’s eye view, and especially the nature of the game changes. For Blackwind, Drakkar has decided to dust off the mechanics of one of its biggest hits for smartphones, namely Clash Of Puppets, which are then the same as isometric action as Bastion, Hades or the Halo Spartan series. A tricky territory, where you need to pull out some original idea to not end up in oblivion in a few weeks.

Framing and control system to be reviewed

A melee attack against a robotic monster

In search of this goal are flanked by shooting (which serve as the backbone of the title) sections typically platform often topped by environmental puzzles. Some of these are well thought out and require the synergy between the armor and a drone that is normally located inside but can be detached to access inaccessible areas. The levels alternate (too) schematically between outdoor locations, where there’s seemingly more freedom of movement, and the interiors of hangars and labs, where narrow corridors lead to slightly larger rooms. It happens, perhaps a little ‘too often, to have to retrace your steps, perhaps after finding upgrades for the mech, to overcome the areas that at first were inaccessible.

You’ll immediately realize that one of the most critical aspects of Blackwind is the management of the camera, which in some places gets so close to the protagonist that it prevents you from seeing what’s around him. Situations that can be managed with the minimap, but too bad that this useful function is only available in the levels “closed”, while in the open ones you have to rely exclusively on your spirit of interpretation. So the risk of getting lost is around the corner: we happened to spend about ten minutes looking for a path in the woods before being able to find it. To aggravate the picture there are phases in which it is necessary a pinpoint accuracy in the jumps: a circumstance that in itself can lead to frustration, even more so when it is combined with the shots ballerine and a control system that at these junctures proves inaccurate. It also does not help that, in some cases (fortunately sporadic), the resurrection check-point require you to repeat some delicate steps.

Satisfying action, a little less customization

An alien portal

Beyond these flaws not negligible, Blackwind proves to be engaging and immediate from the first start. Needless to waste too much time explaining the plot (vaguely inspired by the recent Claire De Lune): it is little more than a pretext to ignite the dust. The mech features three main attack types. Enemies can be dealt with hand-to-hand, thanks to energy blades sticking out of its arms, or at a distance. From his right hand he can shoot laser beams, while from his shoulders he can shoot guided missiles that require the accumulation of specific energy globes to be launched. As you continue, the arsenal is enriched with a berserk mode, defensive shields and a series of combinations to be made with the white weapon (yellow, in this case) that allow, for example, to stun the aliens or to perform bloody “fatalities”.

Enemies and environments (extremely destructible) also drop spheres of other colors: the green ones are the only way to restore the energy bar, while the blue ones feed a “wallet” to be emptied in the aforementioned checkpoints that also serve as points of rapid travel. Unfortunately, the enhancement of the exoskeleton is not as satisfying as it is required to this type of games: in the first few hours we were able to reach the maximum level of the secondary attack that is the one you use most frequently. Apart from a few skins, also, there is no possibility to customize the visual rendering of the exoskeleton, and it’s a shame because it would have opened the door to different types of approaches to battles. The variety of enemies is only decent, despite this is well distributed during the evolution of the game, helping to gradually but steadily raise the level of challenge. The majority is shot down with the fire of the secondary weapon (sometimes, however, you tend to lose the pointer, a bit ‘too small), but in the most crowded situations you have to resort to all available firepower, especially in duels with the “bosses” that garrison certain joints and that are destroyed only by approaching to perform the final move.

PC System Requirements

Test Configuration

  • Operating System: Windows 11 Pro
  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 9 5950X
  • Memory: 32GB RAM
  • Video Card: AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT

Minimum Requirements

  • Operating System: Windows 7
  • Processor: AMD FX-8320 (3.5 GHz) / Intel Core i5-4690K (3.5 GHz)
  • Memory: 4GB RAM
  • Video card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Memory: 3 GB of available space

Recommended Requirements

  • Operating System: Windows 10
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-3930K (3.2 GHz)/AMD Ryzen 5 1600 (3.2 GHz)
  • Memory: 8GB RAM
  • Video card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060

Multiplayer and longevity

Shots all around

From the technical point of view Blackwind lives of ups and downs. Among the best aspects there are explosions and feedback of the weapons: the destructive power of the mech is well transmitted to the eyes of the player thanks to a clever game of “vibration” of framing. Too bad perhaps for the excessive agility during jumps and shots that does not fit very well with the slow and relentless pace of walking. The audio section is terrible: a couple of tracks that are repeated ad nauseam will make you want to turn off the music after a few minutes, but also the voice acting (only in English) and sound effects are rather scholastic. The level design, as written initially, would have deserved a less rigid schematic and a greater level of detail. Overall, however, the game Drakkar is presented more than decent. There is a local multiplayer mode “asymmetrical”, as a second controller can take command of the drone only; unfortunately, there is no other way to deal with the game in company. The longevity of Blackwind is good, easily exceeding ten hours at normal difficulty level. The title still has some bugs: sometimes it happens that the protagonist is “stuck” in some corner of the map, and that the program does not store the preferences regarding the screen resolution. Details that should be quickly corrected and that did not affect the formulation of the final judgment.

Comment

In the shooting phase, the game of Drakkar provides satisfaction despite a repetitive level design and a variety of enemies that certainly does not scream a miracle. The tree of power-ups could have been more branched to allow greater customization of the fighting style, while it is very good the realization of the characters and explosions. However, the biggest flaw of Blackwind is given by a control system and framing that, especially in outdoor areas, is seriously likely to create frustration. Appreciable effort to create, with the platform sections, a diversion from the usual unbridled action, unfortunately, the realization was not up to the mark.

PRO

  • Good weapons feedback
  • Scenic explosions
  • Gradually increasing challenge level
  • Insufficient sound system
  • Inaccurate framing and controls in outdoor areas
  • Needed a little more variety in enemies and abilities
  • Unsatisfactory multiplayer
  • Have you noticed any errors?
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