- Developer: Four Fats
- Publisher: Four Fats
- Release Date: 06/01/2020
- Price: $9.99 / £7.99
- Review code provided by Four Fats
No Time to Explain!
Sequels can be a tough sell. You and your team released a product that went well enough that you find it feasible to create a 2nd or 3rd title. Now you want to make it bigger and better than the first one was. You spend more time and resources to polish it and now your endeavors rest on the offspring of your original product. Will all the original fans come back and support it? Is there enough explanation given for newcomers to jump straight in with no prior knowledge of the original?
These are just a few questions that rattled through my brain when I first started playing Blackmoor 2: The Traitor King. I had no prior experience with the first title, but thankfully the games minute long introduction to the world briefly explains all I needed to know before I started bashing heads. In a very Lord of the Rings-esque tale, the first heroes banished the dark lord, but pieces of him remained. It was tasked to a young man named Duberry to dispose of a pendant that still held his power. Duberry was never heard from again. Now it falls into the hands of those that remember the journey, along with some “new” adventurers to ensure the unspeakable evil is finished once and for all.
Lord of the Pendants?
While the story is presented in a cutscene early on, I felt that it truly didn’t matter. My team of do-gooders were on an epic journey riding trains, fighting assassins, and killing gorgons. The exposition of why I was fighting dark ninjas on a train was not there and maybe it didn’t need to be. I was thoroughly enjoying thrashing them. Giants mutants in a mine? Let me piledrive them into oblivion. Undead pirates hellbent on blowing up my ship? Taste my fists of doom!
Blackmoor 2 proved to me I didn’t need to know why I was thumping the hordes, but that I was enjoying my time while doing it. During its many stages, I experienced some light platforming elements in between countless beat em’ up style fights. The controls were simple enough; attack and jump. As you progress in the game, and gain experience from defeating countless baddies, more skills become available. Each character has special attack skills and one super move. My favorite was Bolo’s spinning piledriver, which may or may not be inspired by Zangief from Street Fighter.
The sheer amount of content available in Blackmoor 2 was unexpected, but greatly appreciated. The story mode can be played single player or with up to three other players in online multiplayer. Also included is the PVP mode which can also be played single player (against the computer), two players on the same Switch, or online. This mode is a loving homage to Street Fighter with an Akuma style character, an evil bear. It’s a funny little play on words as “kuma” in Japanese is bear and “akuma” is a fire spirit.
But wait, there’s more! Blackmoor 2 also contains a mode called Dungeons. This is the “Mario Maker” mode which allows you to create the most devious dungeon possible to unleash on the world. I spent a bit of time here playing other players creations and after clearing the main story, it can be a fun way to still get something new if you aren’t ready to conquer the Dark mode (i.e. the games hard setting which is unlocked after beating the normal game).
A Stain Upon the Land
Sadly, all is not shiny in the kingdom of Blackmoor. One of my main complaints is how the game handles difficulty. While it is not impossibly hard, it is easily seen as being tailored towards the multiplayer experience. The level with the gorgon boss was particularly frustrating as she could drain your health quite quickly and the checkpoint was a bit of a ways back. When playing with a second player, it was a much easier experience. When one player dies, the other player can respawn in a few seconds. This aspect lends to the game giving single adventurers a tougher go of it.
An additional grievance involved the games menu and upgrade system. In the early stages of the game, I was playing, leveling and enjoying the game. I never felt like my character was getting stronger though, even though I was now a level 5. I knew more skills were being unlocked, but I never found any new gear to equip, or if I did, it was so few and far between. I just assumed I had missed a town or shop. Lo and behold, the shop was in the menu screen the entire time, along with an upgrade menu. I wasn’t getting stronger because I had not been buying skill points with my coins (I had amassed quite a sum by this point). Maybe I have become too reliant on modern games telling me where I need to go? It’s possible, but I did enjoy my experience more after I found those menus.
Looking to the Classics
The art design in Blackmoor was not my favorite. It is very reminiscent of Scribblenauts, which has a very cute and childlike style. For an action RPG like this, it’s a very interesting choice. What I did enjoy more were the nods and throwbacks to classic games like Double Dragon & Final Fight. Characters like Bolo and Abigail are standouts, along with Ned Betty and his ability to teleport and leave his oddly shaped helmet behind.
The music of Blackmoor caught me off guard as it felt very polished and fit perfectly in what most would consider standard RPG or action RPG soundtracks. I say it caught me off guard as every other aspect of Blackmoor felt light-hearted and silly, but the music had a very serious tone. There was an exception though as one stage had an odd laugh in it. That song felt like it belonged in Blackmoor 2. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the music and must tip my hat to the sound designer!
One major downfall I noticed while playing Blackmoor 2 involved odd response time between screens. It was not every time, mostly when finishing levels or exiting out to the main menu. It was like the game would get hung up, like “Did I actually hit the button? Do I need to press it again?” Another technical issue I noticed involve the hit boxes and hit priority. There were many instances that I would attack an enemy before they even started their animation and I would get hit instead. It left a bad taste in my mouth and I had to throw my attacks out earlier to make sure it hit, even when it looked like it wouldn’t.
Despite these flaws, I really enjoyed my time with Blackmoor 2. The combat was fun albeit not the most precise I have ever played. The enemy variety was larger than I expected it would be and the amount of extra levels in the campaign not required to beat the story was a plus. It means players will have something to go back into even after the credits roll. All the extra modes such as the PVP mode and Dungeons are icing on the cake. If you can get a friend or two to pick this game up with you, it will easily be worth it!
- Large Amount of Unlockables & Modes
- Great Music
- Solid Multiplayer
- Unique Artstyle Choice
- Hit Boxes / Hit Priority Issues
- Game Can Feel Uneven Without a Second Player
Blackmoor 2 features quite a bit of content in a surprisingly small package. While it can be a mixed bag, the enjoyable bits tend to shine a bit brighter than the rest.