Game Review: BlackTail

Solid But Incomplete Experience.
game review
game design

April 19, 2023

Blacktail Header Image

Forge the legend of Baba Yaga, a girl accused of witchcraft and expelled from her home. Live out the origins of the Slavic myth in this one-of-a-kind blend of intense archery combat and dark storytelling set in a vibrant fairy tale world.

Cons First.

Henceforth, these kinds of posts will start with what went wrong and then move to what I liked.

Combat is Meh.

The game looks like an RPG and you would even think it is from how it sells itself. But, if you’re hoping for a deep combat system then this is not the game for you. The choices the game gives you solve your problems is quite limited. There are variant arrow types but I never found much reason to use them unless the game forced me to use them. You also have a sort of Spell which changes based on your Moral Alignment; it’s not very complex or flexible and it’s very spammable.

Moral What?

Speaking of Moral Systems, there is one in this game - and you likely wont even notice. There are mundane and repeatable deeds in the world you can use to push your alignment around and it affects nothing but the effects of your spells. If it does anything else, I never noticed it. And, you can move it around so easily that it might as well not exist.

And, Then I Shot An Arrow

Another knock against the game is that most bosses are literally the same. I don’t mean they’re similar; the fights are exactly the same but with one or two added attack patterns to make the fight harder at each phase. This doesn’t even get over the Zelda line when it comes to boss fights. There are - I think - two fights which force you to use an arrow gimmick. Not impressed.

So I Then I Called Them A C*nt

The writing and narration in this game is wonderful - until it is not. When NPCs started using modern colloquialisms such as referring to others as “trash” and another character constantly using “Shit”, I found myself pushed out of the world immediately. This is shame because these little beats break what is otherwise perfect.

And, Now Pros

My Eyes!

The world is beautiful. They nailed the environment and enemies appearances in the game. I found myself often stopping just to stare out over the landscapes and just enjoy the world around me. There are points where the moods of the game shift and everything from the music to the characters voices to everything around shifts perfectly in step. These moments will keep you moving along just to feel through these moments. And, they are worth every single one of them.

Everything, Everywhere.

Speaking of the world, the game allows you to either have a streamlined version or an Open World Version of the game. I strongly recommend the Open World version. There is so much scattered around the world to explore and if you’re like me - and you try to always go the opposite of the story to collect everything - then you’ll quickly find yourself lost in the world. It is expansive and - even with a free dash to run around - there are lots of collectables and story parts to find.

Tell Me a Fairytale.

If you play games for story then buy this game. Do it now. Often, I found myself coming back to old areas because the story was so compelling that I had to find out what happened next. The characters really drive you along and the mystery of the game hooks deep.

Not Just an FPS

Spread out throughout the game, there are different types of gameplay which are pleasant breaks from the combat. There is a mix of platforming spread out which are worrisome but not too hard. The puzzle - which I’m not going to spoil - is impressive. Knowing a bit about how games are designed, congratulations to whoever designed and got those puzzles working.

Should Buy?

This is the appropriate time to discuss it: the ending. In the context of everything else, I do not understand what happened. I figured the ending might be some form of further hook into the legend of Baba Yaga but it just was not. After a bit of reading around, I was unable to connect anything in her mythology to the ending. Maybe there is an interpretation where she is a time traveler akin to Merlin? Anyways, if you can handle heartbreak and enjoy story driven games then definitely a buy.