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Blackwind Review

Blackwind review

On the surface, Blackwind immediately checked all the right boxes for me. Fighting mechs? Check. Isometric camera angles? Check. Cheap? Yeah, it’s $25. Should be a pretty easy win for Drakkar Dev with me, right? Here are my thoughts in our Blackwind review:

Blackwind
Developer: Drakkar Dev
Publisher: Blowfish Studios

Platform: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), Xbox Series S|X, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: January 20th, 2022
Players: 1
Price: $24.99

Blackwind is a beat-em-up/twin stick shooter hybrid that puts you in control of a reluctant teenager in a mech suit (named Blackwind) who’s trying to stave off an alien invasion.

Not only is the premise generic, but the story is somehow even worse than the original idea. I’m not sure if this was an issue of being lost in translation or what happened, but this game has some of the worst voice acting and story telling I’ve experienced in quite some time.

The suit’s AI serves as the basic instructional guide and is probably the least obnoxious member of the cast since her lines are short and mostly brief. Everyone else sounds like they’re reading a script being sent to them via text message.

It’s like they’re speaking in cadence to stretch it out so they don’t hit the end of a sentence before receiving the next line. I’ve heard monster roars that are better acted than all of these characters, and by the 83rd time you’ve heard this kid shout “Never mess with a Hawkins!” you’ll be ready to strangle him yourself.

Throughout Blackwind, you’ll run around punching enemy robots with your lightsaber looking claws, shooting them with your hand cannon, or using several different special abilities that are ultimately kind of useless. Melee feels decent, but there’s no weight to any of the attacks, and there’s no I-Frames, so you’re easily susceptible to being stun locked.

On harder difficulties, certain enemies can kill you in three hits, and needless to say when three chain missiles can knock you down and then continually hit you before your animation to stand up happens, it removes any desire to play on a challenging mode.

Personally, I found the most success by only upgrading my hand cannon and the jumping ground punch AOE as those did more damage than anything else – though don’t forget to unlock the scissors and earthquake combos for the achievements.

Blackwind never quite seems sure of what it wants to be. The outdoor levels are confined to a certain map layout but feel a little bit larger, while the base missions feel like a dungeon crawler. This wouldn’t be so bad if the camera wasn’t absolutely offensively atrocious in this game.

The camera is locked and cannot be moved or manipulated in any way. This quite often resulted in bugs like where the camera would zoom out to focus on a certain point but then wouldn’t zoom back in so I couldn’t see what I was doing and had to reload my save.

Another time I couldn’t figure out how to solve a puzzle because the camera angle blocked me from seeing the objective. On top of that, when you separate the drone from the mech, the mech body tends to run toward the drone as it attempts to rejoin.

This wouldn’t be so bad but there are puzzles that require you leave the drone at one point while moving the suit to hit switches. Needless to say if these didn’t sync up, it was an awful exercise in frustration.

The sound is pretty decent for the first 30 seconds of each song, until it becomes obnoxiously repetitive. As I played back through sections I’d already cleared to find secrets, I was glad to be able to dump Spotify over the game audio.

Thankfully, Blackwind is a fairly short game so there’s not a lot of sections to revisit or horrible voice lines to suffer though. I believe it took me about six or seven hours to play through the entirety of the game.

If you can get past all of the problems Blackwind has, it’s actually kind of enjoyable once you learn to deal with the quirks. It’s unacceptable to have to ask the player to do this to find any enjoyment, but thankfully due to the short length of the game, I actually decided to play through it twice for the easy trophies.

The PS4 version doesn’t run as fast or as smoothly as the PS5 version, but it actually has better performance as the PS5 version stutters and lags terribly in the forest area, and the gritty smoky areas look much better on the PS4 because they aren’t nearly as clear as they are on PS5.

Perhaps the best part of Blackwind are the different skins you can collect – some of which are inspired by other sci-fi franchises (for example: a golden “prototype droid” and a purple and green “E.va” skin) – and there’s even an achievement for getting several of these costumes and putting them on, as well as an achievement for collecting all of the skins.

All and all, it’s about what I’d expect from a game built in Unity. Blackwind feels like it was originally designed to be a mobile game and changed at the last minute when they realized there were too many commands for a touch screen.

It’s not a great game, but it was kind of fun to play once I figured out how to work around the kinks. Adding some camera controls could easily bump this score up a solid point, but time will tell on any post-release support that Blackwind receives.

I’ve paid $25 for games that were a lot more polished than this one and sucked twice as bad, so at least Blackwind does have a moderately enjoyable gameplay loop – and that’s more than I can say for a lot of other games in this price range.

Blackwind was reviewed on PlayStation 5 using a code provided by Blowfish Studios. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.

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The Verdict: 6

The Good

  • Surprisingly enjoyable
  • Short game with a lot of achievements
  • It's cheap

The Bad

  • Weak story
  • Terrible voice acting
  • Absolutely horrible gameplay camera with no control options
  • Performance issues on PS5
  • No cross-save from PS4 to PS5

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