Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Adam Smith)

The original Blackguards was like a wax apple. I saw it sitting there in the fruitbowl of the internet – shiny, red and tempting – but when I plunged my pegs into it and tore off a mouthful I made a face like Stan Laurel chewing a wasp. I love tactical RPGs but the early missions of Daedalic’s villain ‘em up felt like puzzles with a single solution rather than reactive scenarios.

Enter the sequel, with a somewhat dynamic strategic map and increased scope for customisation of the main character. I’ve taken a bite.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

Peter "Durante" Thoman is the creator of PC downsampling tool GeDoSaTo and the modder behind Dark Soul's DSfix. He's previously analyzed the PC ports of Dark Souls II and Valkyria Chronicles for PC Gamer. Today, he's celebrating his favorite genre.

I like to imagine that when historians of the medium of gaming look back on 2014, they will see it not as the year of half-baked AAA games, not as the time when microtransaction profits surged further ahead, but rather as the first year of the CRPG renaissance.

Asking a fan of the CRPG genre—that is, old-school computer RPGs—about when it reached its peak, you ll likely get a large range of answers, from the late 80s up until the turn of the century. What you won t hear is any year from, say, 2004 to 2013. While the genre has not died entirely over the past decade, it was kept alive on a sparse diet of shoestring-budget indie titles, and the very rare larger highlight, such as 2007 s Mask of the Betrayer.

All of this changed in 2014, and it s not looking to stop any time soon. Even genre aficionados might have had trouble keeping up with the deluge of great games throughout the year—these are generally not short games—and it seems all but impossible for the casual fan. As such, I want to close out the year by providing a quick look at each of my personal highlights, and an even quicker overview of some other worthy candidates.

Might & Magic X: Legacy

In a year filled with amazing games in my favorite genre, it s hard to select a single one to stand above the rest. However, if I had to choose, it would come down to Might & Magic X: Legacy. As a grid-based open-world turn-based first person party RPG, it s a representative of what might be the rarest RPG subgenre of them all. Certainly, this is not a choice I d have ever expected to make at the start of the year, but M&MX is the complete package. It combines rewarding exploration and dungeon crawling with great character development and combat systems, and had me glued to my screen throughout its entire duration.

I am still amazed by the fact that this game was even made, and in the shape of a true old-school sequel and not an ill-advised attempt at rebooting the franchise. As you might be aware, Might and Magic is owned by Ubisoft these days, and, as the story goes, it is only due to the near super-human persistence and passion of some of their employees—and the success of 2012 s Legend of Grimrock—that the project ever got off the ground.

I fervently hope it is not the last one.

Divinity: Original Sin

With Divinity: Original Sin, the fine folks at Larian Studios managed to fulfill their ambition of providing world interactivity on a level with Ultima 7, which has always felt a decade ahead of its time in that regard. But that s not the whole story: in the process of doing so, they also created what might well be the best turn-based combat system in any RPG ever.

I do not say this lightly, or merely to underscore just how good it is having played a good chunk of them, I truly cannot think of any RPG which does turn-based combat better than Divinity: Original Sin. Its combination of a polished action point-based free movement system with highly meaningful and novel environmental interaction and a huge variety of spells and skills allows for almost limitless tactical possibilities. Even over the course of 70+ hours and a very combat-heavy final stretch, this ensured that the encounters never got old or repetitive.

On top of these achievements, Larian have also proven (again, really, after all most of the Infinity Engine games did the same) that it is possible to create an uncompromising, deep, old-school RPG experience while including full campaign coop, a lesson I hope many other developers will take to heart. Larian themselves are already planning two new RPGs based on their engine, and I can t wait to see what they come up with.

Shadowrun: Dragonfall

Out of the games I ve chosen to highlight, Dragonfall might be the most story- and character-driven. It is set in the Shadowrun universe, a veritable smorgasbord of science fiction, fantasy and cyberpunk, and a personal favorite of mine. While Dragonfall was originally released only as an expansion to last years Shadowrun Returns, developer Harebrained Schemes realized its full potential with a stand-alone Director s Cut version.

This second campaign improves upon its predecessor in many ways, both technically as well as in gameplay design. Saving works more like you would expect in a PC RPG, and throughout the campaign there is a lot more choice in what missions to undertake and their order. Skill checks in dialogue and quests also seem more evenly distributed than in the earlier game, which makes a larger variety of character build choices viable. Finally, your core party is now made up of true companion characters rather than faceless hirelings. And crucially, the developers still manage to nail the mood of the setting.

Very recently, there have been some rumblings about a Kickstarter for a third Shadowrun campaign, and if they pan out I ll make sure to be among the first to sign up for it.

Wasteland 2

The first big crowd-funded RPG success, Wasteland 2 took a lot longer than expected to reach its full release, and had some significant polish and enhancement performed even beyond that. But the wait was worth it: inXile delivered a huge, sprawling post-apocalyptic RPG with a wealth of unique locations meshing into its central story, old school party creation and a large selection of character skills.

While some interface niggles remain—the relative utility of skills may be somewhat imbalanced and no single element reaches the heights of Divinity s combat system or M&MX s exploration—on the whole Wasteland 2 is much greater than the sum of its parts. As a result, it is perhaps the closest of all the games I ve chosen to highlight to delivering the complete isometric RPG experience which fans have been clamoring for.

One thing is for sure: it comes as a huge relief to me, and probably many RPG fans, that inXile proved their skill to some extent with Wasteland 2. Their next task is, after all, to create Torment: Tides of Numenera, a spiritual sequel to one of the genre s all-time greats, Planescape: Torment.

The others…

It feels unjust to cut off the more detailed look at individual games and developers at this point, but sadly time and space are limited. In any other year over the past decade, each of these games would have caused a splash in the RPG community, so relegating them to this part of the article is merely a concession to the massive quantity and quality of this year s releases. Each of them is absolutely worth checking out, and all of them have something unique to offer.

Blackguards hex-based strategy and faithful adaption of the pen-and-paper Dark Eye ruleset are absolutely worth a closer look. And the same applies to the sublime blend of exploration, dungeon crawling, and puzzle solving which can be experienced in Legend of Grimrock 2.

Dead State presents a unique RPG experience and simulation of survivor behavior in a zombie apocalypse scenario, and Lords of Xulima combines isometric exploration with a first person battle system in an interesting reversal of the celebrated Realms of Arkania series.

… and the Rest

An interesting note about this renaissance of the CRPG sub-genre is that, despite the huge number of games, it seems to have left other releases in the broader sphere of RPGs mostly unaffected. This might be at least partially explained by the fact that many of these games were made by new companies, or separate teams in established development houses.

Be that as it may, the point is that there have also been a great many action RPGs released in 2014, and some of them of surprisingly high quality. This of course includes games such as From Software s Dark Souls 2, a great sequel to one of the best action RPGs of all time, and solid new entries in established franchises like Risen 3. However, there were also some jewels created by smaller teams, such as the dialogue-heavy Consortium which explores the idea of an RPG taking place in a minimal environment.

And to top it all off, the new trend of Japanese ports exposed PC-only gamers to some true classics of the genre for the first time this year, with the obvious headliner being Valkyria Chronicles. Oh, and there was also a great new console-style RPG released on PC in the form of Obsidian s South Park: The Stick of Truth.

The future is so bright we ll need shades

If there were no upcoming CRPGs at all, or if, after 2014, we d revert back to the sporadic release schedule of the past decade, we wouldn t have a renaissance on our hands. 2014 would be an aberration, a glorious one for sure, but still only temporary. However, that isn t the case. While it still seems doubtful that 2015 will deliver the same quantity and quality of RPG releases that we saw in 2014, that is an impossibly high standard to set. Indeed, it is easy to argue that even during the golden age of the genre, the number of quality releases per year couldn t quite match what we have experienced over the past 12 months.

That said, 2015 looks like it will put up a fight nonetheless. There are, of course, the heavy hitters: Pillars of Eternity and Torment: Tides of Numenera—though the latter might not quite make it by the end of the year. They are supported by a scaffolding of promising independent games like Serpent in the Staglands, Underrail, and of course the grandfather among them, Age of Decadence. And some of this year s games will see sequels in 2015 already, including Blackguards and The Banner Saga.

I am almost at the point where I would appreciate the releases slowing down a bit so I have more time to catch up.


Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Adam Smith)

I didn’t get along with Blackguards, Daedalic’s Dark Eye universe strategy RPG. On paper, it sounded like it might be a cup of tea that was almost entirely up my street but I found the early battles a slog. Too often, I’d see my party smashed to bits and have to replay until I found the ‘correct’ method for a particular fight.

Despite that, I’ve been mildly interested in the sequel, partly because there’s a dearth of these kind of tactical combat RPGs on the PC, and partly because Blackguards felt like it might be a couple of steps from greatness. Or at least good>ness. I haven’t paid sufficient attention to post any videos before now, which makes this a perfect place to plant both of the ‘New Features’ videos that have been released.

… [visit site to read more]

Announcement - Valve
Save up to 90% on all Daedalic Entertainment Titles as part of this week's Weekend Deal*!

Daedalic Armageddon Bundle - 80% off
Blackguards - 75% off
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Announcement - Valve
Today's Deal: Save 66% on Blackguards!*

Look for the deals each day on the front page of Steam. Or follow us on twitter or Facebook for instant notifications wherever you are!

*Offer ends Tuesday at 10AM Pacific Time
Community Announcements - stef.daedalic

We’re happy to announce that our Blackguards are now ready to enter your PC & Mac in Turkish, too! Additionally, there have been some small technical corrections in the game that will fix the following issues:

Patch 1.5 changelog

- Fixed the loot in the last fight of the "Charyb'Yzz" Questline.
- Fixed crash when entering Lorfas.
- Fixed blackscreen in Cilliego's Questline.
- Fixed the Spell casting freeze
- Added Turkish localization.

Your Team Daedalic
Community Announcements - stef.daedalic

Hi guys,

we’re happy that today we are finally releasing our big localization update for our Blackguards. The update contains the reworked Russian localization as well as the brand new Japanese and Korean language packages.

Have fun playing and don’t get lost in Aventuria!

PS: The patch will available in about 2 or 3 hours from now, so please don’t worry if it’s not starting immediately.

Your Daedalic-Team
Community Announcements - stef.daedalic
Hi guys,

there are three new loca kits upcoming for Blackguards. First there is the reworked Russian localization, and second we are proud to announce that there will be a Japanese and Korean localization, too!

The patch including the new localizations will be available by the end of June 2014.

Your Daedalic Team
Community Announcements - stef.daedalic
We are so happy to finally reveal that we are working on a sequel for our strategy RPG – Blackguards 2!

[Spoiler Alert: Don't read if you don't want to get spoilered about the ending of Blackguards]

Blackguards 2 will stay an SRPG focussing on turn-based, strategic battles with a group of scoundrels as anti-heroes. Some of the best-known Blackguards from the first game will be part of the team again – unfortunately, their lives didn’t go very well since then. Dwarf Naurim, for example, has rest on his fame as a successful gladiator and defeater of the Nine Hordes. He used his popularity for shady businesses and excessive parties and got quite potbellied – not a very good condition for battles, and so he hung up his axe and ditched his old gang, as long as they wouldn't yield any profit.

Wizard Zurbaran was even less lucky: His mistress could track down the former slave, who was able to escape his servitude. She shackled, mortified and sold him for one symbolic copper piece at the slave market.

Takate, on the other hand, is back among the forest people and arranges his own gladiatorial games, letting humans fight for their destiny, just as he was forced to. He believes that there are no challenges left, after he has defeated the Nine Hordes, and gets bored with sending others to their death.

Nevertheless, the fame of the defeater of the Nine Hordes seems to be everlasting – at least for the three survivors, as all others have found their end. Cassia, main protagonist of Blackguards 2, is looking for them: Cassia’s only goal is to rule from the Shark Throne at all costs, even if it’s only for one day. In the Blackguards she sees the fighters and the power she needs for her plans, even if they are a shadow of their former glory: Naurim became fat and lazy, but also more cunning; Zurbaran lost his self-confidence and Takate seems to have lost his killer instinct.

Together with Cassia the three remaining Blackguards will be the main characters of Blackguards 2. In many quests the group will travel through South Aventuria to fulfill Cassias dream.

Blackguards 2 will again be based on the RPG rulebook of The Dark Eye, but it will come along with some revisions, optimisations and simplifications. The gameplay will focus on turn-based battles once more – this time the players have to conquer Cassia’s lands and defend them against intruders when the need arises. As in a fraction-based game the enemies can recapture the territories from the Blackguards.

If not in a battle, players take care of a lot of quests and the development of their characters. As common in RPGs, the quests will offer optional and alternative plotlines.

Furthermore, Blackguards 2 will have new weapons, armor, enemies and stamina as additional battle resource.

On top of that, Blackguards 2 will involve mechanics that have been requested by players of the first game, like improved line of sight, cover and formation.

Blackguards 2 is planned to be released in early 2015.
Announcement - Valve
Save 50-90% on all Daedalic Entertainment Titles as part of this week's Weekend Deal*!

Daedalic Super Bundle - 77% Off
Blackguards - 50%
Deponia - 90%
Chaos on Deponia - 66%
Goodbye Deponia - 50% Off
The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav - 75%
The Whispered World - 80%
1954 Alcatraz - 50% Off
A New Beginning - Final Cut - 75% Off
Edna & Harvey: The Breakout - 50%
Edna & Harvey: Harvey's New Eyes - 75%
Gomo - 66%
Journey of a Roach - 80%
Memoria - 50%
The Night of the Rabbit - 66%

*Offer ends Monday at 10AM Pacific Time


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