Black Legend: A Steam Review

Turn-based is one of my favorite genres in gaming because of how the gameplay ranges in such a broad spectrum. You can go hardcore into turn-based strategy and play legendary titles like Civilization and Age of Wonders, or even maybe dive into a more tactical setting like Fire Emblem. The genre even branches out into Turn-Based RPGs like Final Fantasy, and Persona, which are iconic franchises that have been around for over a decade. Black Legend, however, takes an interesting turn in mixing a free roam setting with tactical gameplay. I did not get to spend as much time as I had wanted in this title, but overall I found it to be very lackluster. While the gameplay feels very satisfying in a tactical sense, there are a lot of areas that can use a lot of improvement when it comes to the free roam standpoint as well as overall performance. This game can be purchased on all platforms for $29.99 and was developed and published by Warcave.

Black Legend takes place in the city Grant, which is cursed by a dense fog and infested with the fanatical Mephistian cult. You create your character and lead a band of mercenaries to aid the resistance and take back the city by uncovering the dark truth behind the cult’s activities. The concept for the story was greatly executed, and the atmosphere did well in drawing me into exploring the dark and deadly city. The game gave an overwhelming feeling of desperation and curiosity with cultists lurking around every corner. One of my biggest issues lies with the free roam part of the game. As I previously stated it did a good job in enticing players to explore, but with any free roam RPG a sense of direction is extremely important.

The game tells you where to go via cutscene and quests, but there is no direction on where the objective will be. The game fails to provide players a map or compass, leaving players to memorize street signs or wander until they land upon the objective. RPGs with free roam need these features if they are going to have location-based quests. I do like that you can engage any NPC in the game and that they will give you random side quests or bits of information to aid your investigation of the cult. This aids in drawing players more into the environment and helps to take away the navigational frustration in a way. I do wish that they would organize the menu more as far as class and quest information goes. I also wish the shops were more customized and showed the player items that are already in inventory.

The gameplay was a huge redeemer for this title because it gave you endless options for character placement and development. The combat system was very well designed and adds a sense of difficulty even in normal. You get the freedom of having a small area to preemptively place your characters before the real combat begins. Then you get gameplay that mirrors Fire Emblem or XCOM on a smaller scale, taking turns with each character and enemy. You can pick from 15 different character classes to assign your mercenaries such as sharpshooters and alchemists, and stack different humors, or actions, in one turn to strategically take out your enemies or move your characters. The possibilities for combat are abundant, and if that isn’t enough for players you can change to a high difficulty which includes permadeath.

However as previously mentioned the menu layout is not well designed by any means with the lack of information for important areas such as weapon assignment per class. A lot of the unique abilities for the different classes felt useless in combat as well. I often found myself turning to guides because of the lack of information and viable classes in general as well as ability set-ups. The combat can also take ridiculously long regardless of difficulty right off the bat, leaving players bored until more abilities and combos surface. 

One other issue I take with the game is the optimization and performance. The game runs well on PC, but on consoles and Steamlink the optimization suffers tremendously. The button mapping is more geared for keyboard and mouse as opposed to a controller which is leaving many players frustrated. Frame rate issues and glitches are rampant on consoles as opposed to PC depending on build. There is also a game-breaking bug that forces the player to restart the game completely. Crashes are a plague on consoles both with new generation and old generation. The only issues recorded with PC regardless of build tend to be installation issues, which are generally fixed by reinstalling the game.

It’s not that I would not recommend the game, but I encourage players to look into it before purchasing. I would urge console players to refrain from playing it until these performance issues are addressed period. The game has good qualities and a lot of potential, but it suffered from poor execution. The combat is great as well as the story, but all the issues overshadow what the game has to offer. I hope the developers can take this as a learning experience if there is to be another entry for the title.

DVS Score: 5/10

DwarfHeim: A Steam Review

I always love a good Strategy game to kill some time, whether it be the classics like Warcraft 3 (not Warcraft 3 Reforged) and StarCraft, or even Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition and StarCraft 2. Setting up your base, upgrading your abilities and technology, and even going for domination by setting up your elite army are always addicting and empowering. I love spending hours even in Civilization not just trying to win, but setting up my cultural peaceful existence unlocking world wonders. I was excited to be able to try something new out like DwarfHeim, and the results were extremely pleasant despite the rough start. DwarfHeim is a co-op RTS that is class-based and filled with dwarven shenanigans. It was developed by Pineleaf AS and published by Pineleaf AS and Merge Games. You can only experience this dwarven-filled adventure on PC though for $24.99.

Starting in Dwarfheim was a bit rough and there were quite a few bugs and crashes that left me restarting the game. First and foremost the game is extremely unique compared to other turn-based strategy and real-time strategy games. This is because the game is primarily a cooperative game, whereas other RTS games are heavily equally geared towards the single-player and multiplayer experience. There is no story campaign for Dwarfheim, and none coming out as far as we know in the future. The only options for single players are sandbox mode and 1 vs AI to practice, which is very unique as far as any real-time strategy games go. This brings up one other issue, for if you want to play multiplayer I highly recommend finding friends. I went to queue for multiplayer and ended up waiting over 20 minutes every time and eventually gave up. You also get a choice of units to play per each mode that you can attempt to lock in, which are Miner, Builder, and Warrior.

The gameplay itself is insanely fun and a bit dumbed down compared to other real-time strategies for the most part, yet some parts can become very intricate. For instance, the upgrades for abilities are limited, as well as building options like your standard lumbermill and barracks. However, on the flip side, the game shows its dwarven roots when it comes to setting up your mining in the underworld. To get certain resources such as steel ingots, you have to strategically set up your forge to make them with the transmuter. Only certain ore and coal can enter this to create certain ingots, but to separate them you need a splitter to avoid sending incorrect ore or ingots that specific way, otherwise you need to clear it out. You get different structures such as a rock crusher, ore sorter, forge, and warehouse. They all must be specifically set up to get all the resources you need to create other buildings, units, and upgrades. The possibilities for setups can be endless, which makes playing heavily miner-based so exciting!

Some more practical issues I have with the game are issues that I never expected to have in my gaming career, and that is the lack of tutorial. Usually, I am great at figuring things out with any game, but I love tutorials for any strategy game, especially when it comes to PC due to the endless key bindings and structure uses. The reason I had a rough start, as well as other people with Dwarfheim, is the overall lack of explanation. The tutorial shows you how to move your units, attack, some building, and how to navigate the underworld. However, outside of that, there was little to no explanation. I found myself looking into the key bindings often to figure out the simplest things, even down to rotating objects to set up my base. Most of the setups such as the forge and structure setups I had to figure out myself or look up guides that people made on YouTube or Steam to help others due to the lack of instruction. The other reason this is a problem is that I spent a good amount of time trying to find a slow-paced option to learn the game, which leads me to warn people to avoid 1 vs AI until they know the game and stick with single-player sandbox mode. 

All in all I do enjoy this game, and like any RTS I found myself hooked once I got through digging up key bindings and guides to learn everything. I do hope the developers will add a better tutorial in the future, but all in all, it is a solid strategy game. I do hope the player base keeps growing so the queue times drop for those who have no one to enjoy this specific genre with, and that the developers also look into a possible campaign mode. I loved the overall art style and music, and this game feels like it would be a great candidate for a strong story. There are some kinks and bugs to work out but overall this game is solid and worth syncing a lot of time into.

DVS Score- 6/10