Black Legend

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: RPG/Strategy
Developer: Warcave
Release Date: 2021


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Switch/PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Black Legend'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Oct. 30, 2020 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Black Legend is an RPG that combines XCom-like tactical combat with open world exploration of a 17th century Low Lands city filled with alchemical beasts, deranged cultists, and monsters pulled from regional folklore.

Black Legend is set in the 17th century city of Grant. A mad alchemist has unleashed a deadly fog over the city to drive people mad, and now refugees are frantically trying to survive while insane cultists thrive in the mist. You take on the role of a mercenary group who has come to Grant to offer its services to rescue the people of the city and defeat the cultist threat before it gets any worse.

Characters in Black Legend are divided into classes, with the available classes determined by the weapons that you have on hand. Each class has their own strengths and differences. Rogues can apply poison, move swiftly, and perform counterattacks; knights can block attacks; sharpshooters can snipe from a distance; and so on. There are going to be 15 classes in the final version of the game, and each class will have its own unique weapons and skills.

This is important because Black Legend does not want you to choose a single class and stick to it. Swapping classes is easy, so you can somewhat customize your strategy for upcoming fights. Sometimes you might need tanky warriors, and other times, speed is of the essence. Swapping classes also allows you to master the special active and passive skills associated with those classes. Once you do so, you can bring their skills to other classes, Final Fantasy Tactics style. It's pretty clear that deciding that someone is your sharpshooter and never changing them away is far less effective than, say, making sure your sharpshooter also dips into the rogue skill trees.

One of the more distinctive features of Black Legend is how its elemental system works. Most attacks are tied to one of five elements: albedo, citrinitas, nigredo, rubedo or catalyst. The first four are traditional elements of alchemy that respectively translate to white, yellow, black, and red. When you attack an enemy, your attack applies a stack of the relevant color to the enemy, and multiple attacks can apply multiple colors. The colors are worthless on their own, though, so you need to create an alchemical solution by mixing the colors. Red and white do not mix, nor do black and yellow, but the other forms do. Once you have at least one stack on an enemy and hit them with a catalyst attack, the alchemical concoction goes off and does massive damage.

This is a pretty interesting concept and adds an intriguing edge to the battle system. You can regularly attack enemies, but the damage boost from body alchemy is so significant that it is your best way to do damage. There are also going to be special trinkets that can add extra effects to certain combinations, and some enemies are weak to only one combination of alchemical ingredients. You can focus on one character who can apply elements, or you can try to spread it out so that anyone on your roster can set off an alchemical combo.

Combat is turn-based, with an action meter at the top of the screen that shows each upcoming character's actions. Every character has a certain number of action points they can take during each turn, but the more points you take, the longer it is until your next turn. It reminded me a lot of the recent release Othercide, although the focus is on setting up alchemical combos rather than manipulating the timeline. It's still clear that choosing your enemies wisely is the key to success. Enemies can also apply alchemical reagents to your characters, and those combos are just as painful for your characters as the foes.

Black Legend is shaping up to be an interesting strategy game. The demo version is a little rough in places, and it's clear that the menus and UI are still undergoing work, but from what we've seen so far, it could be something special. The body alchemy system makes you approach combat in a different way, and I genuinely look forward to seeing what awaits us in the final version. As of this writing, Black Legend has no confirmed release date, but it certainly seems worth keeping an eye on.

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