Review by konschnotz
"Could have been so much better"
I really wanted to like this game. But it was impossible. But first, let's mention the good parts:
Graphics: A joy to behold for everyone who's grown up with the 16bit-era of console RPGs. While the animations could have been smoother and the character pictures are a bit bland, the background graphics are for the most part very detailed and show a coherent style (which is obviously inspired by Chrono Trigger, but imitiation is the sincerest form of flattery).
Story: A pleasant change from clichee-ridden yawners like the hyped Golden Sun games. Definitely one of the better storylines compared to other handheld RPGs and titles from the SNES era. The dialogue is for the most part OK, Aurora's silly antics can get annoying, though.
Now, for the rather bad stuff:
Gameplay: While the story is rather linear, there is lots of secret stuff hidden in nooks and crannies practically everywhere, thus encouraging exploration. Depending on the lead character, certain NPCs have different dialogue options. Lots of equipment and skills to play around with. Balancing is terrible though, with minimal battle rewards both gold and EXP-wise
Sound: The music is actually pretty good, but the sound effects? Bland, uninspired, repetitive.
Lastly, the really ugly:
Technical aspects: Glitches, freezes, corrupt savegames - this title has it all. I didn't think such amateurism was possible in today's industry.
Batte system: Horrible! It's slow, it's clumsy, and due to the ridiculous encounter rate, it happens all the time! There is the option to run from battles, but it regularly takes longer to flee than to fight your way through. More often than not, characters can not reach enemies and are running around helplessly. Did I mention the encounter rate? Once is not enough! I am a huge fan of the DQ series, but not being able to walk 3 seconds in a dungeon or on the world map without being stopped is extremely frustrating. Every fool can claim 100+ hours of gameplay like that!
Summing up, it's really a shame what happened with this title. The art department did a good job with the very slick, almost retro-style presentation, the composer's not to blame either nor are the writers. But the game design is so severely botched that I feel obliged to warn everyone that is not either a masochist or fan of mindless grinding (is there a difference?) to stay well away from this title. Should the developers survive the debacle that is this game, there might actually be hope for a port/sequel/remake of this title that adresses its severe shortcomings.
Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 06/15/09
Game Release: Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled (US, 06/09/09)
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