LifeisXbox’s Blackwind Review | Get ready to face off against numerous enemies in this newly released sci-fi, hack and slash, action-packed adventure title – Blackwind. You will be playing the game as James Hawkins, a teenager who gets trapped in a prototype battle frame after a ship he and his dad were travelling on is unexpectedly attacked and brought down. As you inevitably crash land on the surface of Medusa-42, you learn of Raknos hordes leaving human colonies in ruins and must quickly adjust to your battle frame should you stand any hope of helping others and maintaining your survival. As you make your way through divergent areas, you will progress the story and learn more about exactly what has been occurring on Medusa-42, while making enemies and allies along the way. Blackwind has been developed by Drakkar Dev and published by Blowfish Studios to give us a dynamic title that will have you not only fighting your way to safety but making discoveries of many kinds.
Most Memorable Moment
My most memorable moment includes spoilers that I naturally don’t want to share so I will go with my second most memorable which would have to be the ability to demolish your environment. Not every part of the surroundings can be smashed to pieces but for those of them that are, they provide you with extra resources such as power, health, and points that are used to upgrade your abilities. It may not seem like much but for people that enjoy chaos and destruction being left in their wake, it’s a pretty satisfying feature.
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher. This review is the personal opinion of the writer.
What we Liked!
- Upgrade at checkpoints | Within the upgrades are three categories you can choose to spec into and these include general, combat, and special. Each focuses more on different aspects of your gameplay, allowing you to upgrade the skill trees that most suit your play style. Checkpoints can be found throughout each level so there isn’t a massive wait in-between but enough to notice how the upgrades effect your survivability as you progress. It’s also worth noting some skills come with multiple levels to upgrade that can affect range, damage, and quantity in different cases. There may not look much to upgrade but with the cost in mind and how they progressively assist you, I was all for getting upgrades in when I could. It’s worth noting not all of the upgrades are available from the beginning and will be unlocked over time.
- Visuals and environments | There are many different environments in Blackwind that range from indoor facilities to outdoor wilderness, intense caves and winter climates. It was nice to experience changes to the setting throughout Blackwind. I also thought the visuals themselves looked appealing, whether it be the characters/enemies or the surroundings; everything was pleasant on the eye without a doubt. Colour was present everywhere and suited the individual areas and their theme. I couldn’t fault the appearance as combined with the style of the game, they had an incredible match with one another.
- Slash and/or shoot | With the hack-and-slash nature of Blackwind, I felt it was only right to include a mixture of playstyles and damaging choices to exterminate your enemies. You have two main ways to attack – the regular close-combat melee and ranged shooting. I found the melee far more entertaining and engaging to use however different scenarios needed ranged damage to become the primary form of attack, especially when you may need a moment of composure to recover. As they both can be upgraded, giving them additional qualities, either is viable to use. As long as the enemies are dying and you’re having fun, that’s all that matters, right?
- Story progression | Thank you for including a story! I was incredibly happy when I found out there was the inclusion of a story in Blackwind that progressed through each level completion. The narrative included some interesting ideas and took me through something that I wasn’t quite expecting and to me, that’s always a bonus. From the very first scene, the story behind Blackwind piqued my interest. A little more length would have been nice but I’m just over the moon there was any story present and it wasn’t just about aimlessly mowing down hordes of enemies.
- Played with ease | All of the controls in Blackwind are straightforward and quite basic to become accustomed to as you’re taken through each one and its command separately. There are no complicated combos to learn or over the top mechanics that would take you a lifetime to master. This means the pace of the game isn’t affected because the leisurely controller layout and button assignment make everything easy to learn and get used to for everyone.
- Enemy terminations | When the game introduced me to the ability to terminate my enemies once enough damage had been dealt to them, I enjoyed them greatly. Unfortunately, each type of enemy has one termination which meant it slowly became repetitive unless you were terminating an enemy you hadn’t yet seen to reveal a new one. The bigger enemies had longer animations, and in my opinion, the better ones. Another feature that ruined these even further and was included with a percentage of the terminations were childish voice lines spoken by your character as you carried out the deed. I wish these would have been left out entirely because they were on another level of cringe.
- Local co-op/split-screen | There is a local co-op mode for those of you who play couch co-op but no online version to play with friends on separate consoles. To my disappointment though, it was not the sort of co-op I would have hoped for. One person controls the mech and its melee capabilities whilst the other controls the drone that can shoot down enemies. Now, I don’t know how others would feel about this but if I’m playing co-op and I’m stuck piloting a little drone while the other person gets to control a pretty awesome battle frame. I would expect both players to have battle frames so they can choose between their combat methods; not one or the other. Great to have a co-op option but I feel this should have been altered in places for a more balanced style.
- Music and sound effects | Personally, I enjoyed the music throughout playing Blackwind but did find some of the sound effects weren’t the best. The music created an engaging atmosphere while being in combat, always kept up with the fast-paced action, and was very gratifying to listen to. When it came to the sound effects, I thought some sounded realistic while others didn’t quite hit the mark. For example, the gunfire to me tended to sound a little off in places, leading me to think it could have been made to sound smoother. Other sound effects such as breaking objects, enemy audio, and jumping also suffered from the same unpolished issues in my opinion.
What we Disliked
- Voice acting | If I’m being completely honest, I was rolling my eyes throughout Blackwind due to the bland and improbable voice acting that coursed through every section of the game. Whether it was the small voice lines shouted out by James while defeating enemies to show off his courage and masculinity or the dialogue presented in cutscenes; it all just felt very staged and fake, missing any possibility of realism that could have been captured in the hectic moments. An element that to many would be seen as overlooked and poorly executed.
- Bugs experienced | There were a handful of issues I encountered when playing through Blackwind. I had an issue that kept creeping up on me with regards to the skill tree navigation; I was sometimes unable to return to the previous tree to upgrade. I was always required to restart my save to gain access to these again. From time to time I was also faced with being locked out from using any of the general control, forcing me to reset my game occasionally. Finally, I did get caught in the environment a few times and although I tried everything in my power to get myself unstuck, I had to resort to reloading my last save which often did put me back further than I would have liked.
- Terrible camera angles | I can’t justify or warrant what I believe to be some of the worst camera angles I have witnessed in recent video games when it comes to those used in Blackwind. As multiple floors were often in place on different levels, navigating these became infuriating with the unwanted close-ups that made seeing where you were going almost impossible at times; the number of times I just jumped and hoped for the best. Being able to visually see is a fundamental element in the majority of games so having issues with camera angles frequently, including whilst being in the middle of combat, was far from amusing.
- Replayability | Once you’ve completed your first playthrough of Blackwind, the only replayability factor that presents itself is mopping up any achievements you’ve missed and finding all collectables (as these reset if you start a new game). You can always play a fresh game and upgrade things differently but I don’t see much reason to do this. There are no difficulty-related achievements. Some levels have miscellaneous achievements linked to them but as fast travel is present, you can travel back to these areas at any point to complete them in your own time and at your own pace. Basically, pretty much everything can be done in one playthrough if you search your surroundings enough.
How long to beat the story | Approximately 8-10 Hours
How long to achieve 1000G | Approximately 10-12 Hours
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Hello, I’m Victoria. I’m from the UK and have been playing video games for as long as I can remember. I’ve pretty much mained Xbox since I was ten years old. Although I find it thoroughly enjoyable to not only experience gameplay, I also find comfort in getting lost and engrossed in the online worlds. Another side of my Xbox passion would be achievements. I thrive when I hear the little sound of one popping up on screen and I’m always finding ways to work on my Gamerscore.