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Geek Review: Blackwind

Geek Review: Blackwind

All aliens must be evil because there is just something about facing an alien threat that creates a strong foundation for entertainment. It’s also what developer Drakkar Dev, alongside publisher Blowfish Studios, is hoping to accomplish with action-platformer Blackwind, and for the most part, it fits the bill.

Transporting players to the peaceful human mining colony on the planet of Medusa-42, the sudden invasion of the ruthless Raknos aliens catches everyone off guard. Crash-landing on the planet, teenager James Hawkins becomes the chosen hero thanks to the protection of a revolutionary Battle Frame prototype powered by the Blackwind AI. Together, they must push back the Raknos threat, find Hawkins’ father, and escape Medusa-42.

As a rudimentary setup, Blackwind functions pretty adequately for a fish out of the water story, casting an unlikely hero in a teenager. The struggles to come to terms with the situation fits nicely with how the player figures into gameplay, and is a nice narrative touch. 

Combat in Blackwind

That is, until the wheels come off with Hawkins’ snappy quips and excited outbursts while committing violent murder harshly contrasting with his supposed distaste of brutality. It is hard to empathise with someone caught in an unfortunate situation when he thoroughly enjoys bringing the pain to his supposed enemies. 

This can happen enough in the game to show a lack of consistency on the writing front, but at least the overall story still makes sense, albeit with a predictable twist that can be seen coming from a distance.

However, some might argue that the narrative takes a backseat in such games, and on the action front, Blackwind does fare much better. The Battle Frame performs admirably well as a weapon of destruction, allowing players to hack and slash their way through all sorts of threats and take care of business at range.

Do enough damage, and the Battle Frame can unleash instant termination finishers for one-hit KOs, even if the finishers are always going to be the same one for each type of enemy. The health orbs dropped are also a worthwhile bonus.

While you will most certainly be eliminating enemies to progress the story, it also grants currency in which players can enhance their combat abilities through three skills trees with varying upgrades and added abilities. Missiles can hit harder, a shield can be activated for survival, or you can amp up your ranged damage to stay at arms’ length.

It is unlikely to have all the abilities upgraded in any given run, so finding the best approach that matches your playstyle will prolong the fun combat brings as you venture across Medusa-42. These various dynamic isometric locations are not just nice to look at, with several biomes on show throughout the 8-12 hours spent in Blackwind, but are also home to environmental puzzles that can test the patience more often than not. 

Finishing moves in Blackwind

The game will have players leaping and boosting around in some areas, requiring perhaps more precision than what the game can afford, while other puzzles require good timing and figuring out how things fit into a sequence. The detachable Battle Frame Drone also figures into the puzzle side of things, adding to the limited variety.

Unfortunately, the puzzles are not too challenging, and neither are they substantial enough to be a key aspect that players should seek out outside of story progression.

Should your curiosity get the better of you, players can find additional skins and even defensive and offensive upgrades that are always welcomed in the fight ahead. The developers over at Drakkar Dev are definitely fans of pop culture, with certain skins paying homage to notable mechs, while other Easter eggs pop up here and there throughout the game.

The skill trees in Blackwind

Blackwind definitely aims high in terms of concept, trying to combine fast, brutal action with a sci-fi story that is familiar, with a dash of platforming and exploration to switch things up every once in a while. 

By all accounts, it is a decent experience with some rough edges, especially if one is into mechs going toe to toe with whatever threats come your way. There is even local co-op thrown in for good measure, with another player able to support the Battle Frame with the agile Drone. Just make sure not to peer too close or expect too much, and Blackwind will not disappoint.

Blackwind will be available on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PC on 20 January.

GEEK REVIEW SCORE

Summary

Heavy mechs smashing up alien threats is always going to be entertaining, but just be wary of expecting too much out of Blackwind other than straightforward action with some slight detours.

Overall
7.3/10
7.3/10
  • Gameplay - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Story - 7/10
    7/10
  • Presentation - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Value - 7/10
    7/10


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