LifeisXbox’s Black Legend review | Belgian developer Warcave uses their regional folklore as inspiration for the story of Black Legend. Working in Ghent I was fairly familiar with some of them, especially the story about nekkers. (Better known in English as nixie) Might be weird to say but folklore has always been an interest of mine. That’s why Black Legend managed to pique my interest when it was announced in 2020, additionally because it is a tactical turn-based RPG too with some fun-looking tactical gameplay. That interest quickly vanished like morning mist when I started to play.
We played Black Legend for over ten hours on Xbox Series X.
What we liked!
- A deep and fun class management system | The combat from Black Legend is a diamond, you just need to remove some of the sticky mud before you’ll see the beauty of it. I explain the mud parts in the mixed and disliked sections but this game has a very similar core gameplay experience to some typical job mechanics in RPG games. Creating your own balanced party of four will require some tactical thinking. Healing is an important aspect here, even more so than doing damage. So learning crucial abilities by earning experience from using your characters is what you’ll do the most, this process can become rather addictive. On top of that is an alchemy part that you can use to buff up your damage against mobs. Exploring the world to find new classes and weapons, balancing your party so you have enough attack, healing, and ‘tank’ abilities is all a bit time-consuming, especially with the bad menu layouts but I had some fun with it.
- Should have been called Grey Legend | I understand what Warcave tried to do here but the visuals for Black Legend are extremely dull because of a severe lack of color. The always present fog makes the brown city streets very unattractive, a more diverse color scheme would have been very welcome. At first sight, it is a shame as the city of Grant is nicely detailed but after a while, you start to notice that they re-use a lot of the assets. It has some nice touches though, execution sites or the tree in the guild square light up the visuals a bit but overall it remains a little depressing. And again, I understand that this was the point but I disliked it somewhat.
- Numerous never-ending battles | I have always had a strong hate for respawning enemies and Black Legend doesn’t change that. I won’t deny that the combat gameplay isn’t fun but it is just too much, the game isn’t afraid to overwhelmingly swarm you with enemies either. Even on easy fighting against mobs that double your party size happens frequently and results in some lengthy battles. It is true that you can avoid ‘a few’ of the fights by avoiding the enemies red zone but most of the time it is impossible and you’ll be forced to fight. You’ll often walk back and forward and seeing new enemies after each loading screen can be a bit demotivational.
- Correction, should have been called Generic Grey Legend | NPCs, party members, even your main character is nothing more than generic. Creating some kind of bond with something in Black Legend is non-existent. Maybe dog lovers will get some kind of ‘awwww-cute’ feelings for the dog in the Guild’s square but that’s absolutely it. I really missed having some connections, especially with some of the missions. You have such a unique story and lore but hardly anything is done with it. It doesn’t help that camera angles always remain the same and that NPCs talk through doors… When a team member of mine was killed in Gears Tactics or one of the Xcom games I was heartbroken, I couldn’t care less if this happened in Black Legend. Sure it is positive that you can freely change the class of your party, learning abilities from one of the 15-classes to create your own hybrid is honestly fantastic.
What we disliked
- Bugs galore | Black Legend isn’t a walk in the park, even on easy. This makes a frequent bug very annoying, it happened quite a lot that one of my party members was simply missing in battle. Maybe resting in a tent or admiring the fog? Who knows… But I don’t have to tell you how much harder it is to win when you only have three party members, so I had to reload a checkpoint on my occasions. That’s not all though, as another nasty bug ruined some fights. This seems to happen when an enemy climbs something, I will admit it is funny at first when you see him catapulted in the air as if some kind of folklore monster sucks him up. It becomes a lot less funny though when this means that the battle doesn’t advance, there is no way to hit the enemy that journeyed to the moon. Again, resulting in reloading a checkpoint. There’s even more though, getting stuck in the environment for example. Happened to me twice, once in a market stall and the other in some kind of invisible wall or characters that don’t move to where you clicked and voiced dialogue that stops mid-sentence or even hilariously switched from voice actor? Although that might be the poisonous fog that messes with their throats. Anyway, all of this smells like an unpolished game. Hopefully, they will improve the overall experience with some patches. But I always say: when a game is on sale it should be polished from the start and not months after release!
- Please devs… explain your mechanics! | Black Legend features some of the most confusing tutorials I’ve seen in a game. Being an important part of the combat the alchemy system took me ages to understand as the game epically failed to explain it decently. Skill moves apply a ‘humour’ in four possible colors, by combining them you either improve or decrease the damage bonus. They flabbergast you with words and expect you to understand it, what really happens was that I felt like an idiot while someone was explaining transformations in the nuclei of atoms. I simply didn’t get it and got destroyed in battles. After a while I finally began to understand how things worked, sadly the damage was done and I was extremely annoyed by the lack of guidance. Also, can you make the humour icons even smaller? Why do devs continuously think that gamers have the eyesight of freaking owls?
- Emphasis on menu options that couldn’t have been any worse | A big part of Black Legend is changing your class, gear and switching unlocked abilities. The idea behind it is fantastic but doing it in practice is utterly frustrating. Everything is so small that it is hard to read the auto-scrolling texts and important information like classes for weapons can’t be found on the inventory screen. And let me be clear, this is a mandatory mechanic as constantly changing your classes is a must for a balanced party.
- A lot to like but an equal amount to dislike | Safe to say, Black Legend had the potential to be so much better. Unfortunately, there was so much that annoyed me that it reduced my overall enjoyment. For example, a very frequent thing was issues with the altitudes of the battle grid. Selecting a higher or lower spot with your controller can be like goat cheese for a lactose intolerant person. Another cheesy example is the constant backtracking, you unlock a fast-travel mechanic late in the game… was it that difficult to introduce it a bit earlier? With the aforementioned issues in other sections, my final but biggest annoyance was the frequent crashing to the dashboard. When buying a new weapon, when finishing a sub-quest, when loading another level. As if they want to make this some kind of 2021 folklore for Xbox… the scary game crashing monster.
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