E3 2013 has come to a close, leaving most to wonder how Microsoft feels about getting slapped around by Sony, and whether Nintendo can compete in this next round of console wars. Not us, though. Beneath all the console hullabaloo were some fantastic games for the Mac and Apple’s iDevices. We’ll be writing up many of them over the next few days, but want to first draw your attention to what I feel was the show’s best game that’s coming to OS X: Blackguards from Daedalic Entertainment.
Call me old school, but I really dig a story-driven RPG with turn-based combat. I dig them even more when they’re presented with modern technology that provides gorgeous visuals, unique gameplay elements, and…skeletons. Seriously. You put skeletons in anything and it’s an instant candidate for game of the year.
For now, though, I’m just calling Blackguards our pick for Best Mac Game of E3 2013. The demo I received for this game was so rich with atmosphere and so intriguing that I wanted to cancel the rest of my meetings for the day and just keep watching.
The official description of the game reads thus:
What happens when the only hope of a threatened world lies not with heroes in shining armor, but is placed in the hands of a band of misfits and criminals? Blackguards, the new turn-based RPG by Daedalic Entertainment, explores this very question. The player takes on the role of a convicted murderer who must use the help of a team of more than questionable characters to save the world from a dark menace. Through this wild chase throughout the South of Aventuria, the world of The Dark Eye, there is more to fight than vicious creatures. Chapter by chapter you’ll encounter a story full of intrigue and surprising twists. Time and time again, the moral compass of the player will be tested. One does not beat Blackguards without getting their hands dirty. But when life and death are in the player’s hands, how far will they go to reach their goals?
Now, it’s worth noting that the main character may not actually be a killer. He’s convicted of a crime he didn’t commit…or at least he doesn’t think he committed. That’s something you’ll work out along the way.
Blackguards utilizes the combat system of The Dark Eye, the most successful role-playing game in Germany. You needn’t know anything about that, however, as all the calculations happen in the background. What you do need to know is your way around a hexagonal combat grid. You’ll move based on your characters’ abilities (three archetypes with many more character classes), and perform commands drawn from a wheel-based interface.
The combat grids can be huge—up to four times the size of the game screen—and pretty much all of them will allow you to utilize the environment to your benefit. For instance, you could engage in combat with two guards in the center of the floor, or you can just drop a chandelier on top of them. No matter which way you go, your experience points will be the same. In addition, not all of the battle grids simply require you kill all of the onscreen enemies. In one battle we were shown, your goal is to save a woman from being hanged within five turns. And watch out for friendly fire; hit your own party enough, and you’ll find maybe they just don’t want to hang with you anymore. They’re criminals, after all…not the most loyal and understanding of fellows.
Blackguards focuses on the combat, but it also involves a detailed story that’ll take you about 40 hours to complete. Your dialogue choices will affect the story, and will lead to multiple endings. The relationships you build with the characters you add to and remove from your party will trigger sub-quests. The cities you visit will also have quest-givers and NPCs who supply intelligence.
Daedalic is targeting a “November-ish” launch of Blackguards, and they’re aiming for a simultaneous PC/Mac release. We’ll be sure to keep you posted on the game’s progress, as this is one we’ll be following very closely. In the meantime, be sure to keep up with all of our ongoing E3 2013 coverage.