BLACKTAIL Preview – Yaga in Wonderland

Gare – Friday, December 17, 2021 10:35 AM
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There are times when a game just comes together beautifully – when all its elements are work alongside each other to create something that feels both familiar, yet fresh and exciting at the same time. Almost like a perfectly seasoned dish, with just the right amount of salt and pepper. BLACKTAIL, an upcoming first-person action-adventure from developer THE PARASIGHT, is one such example: it combines satisfying archery-based combat with semi-open exploration, lush and visually stunning locales, and is propped up by a narrative that makes you want to uncover more and more of its mysteries.

A world of wonders

Inspired by Slavic folklore and legends, particularly that of the Baba-Yaga, BLACKTAIL tells the story of a young girl driven out of her village after being accused of witchcraft. She soon starts hearing a mysterious voice in her head, which compels her to go on a journey to shed light on the mysteries of her own past. The setup itself is intriguing, and combined with the bizarrely dreamlike visuals, lend the game an almost Alice in Wonderland-esque quality, albeit with a Slavic touch. From queen ants hell-bent on domination to witty, smart-talking mushrooms, you’re surrounded by a universe steeped in the wondrous and the supernatural; what’s more, the game world isn’t entirely linear and allows for some degree of free exploration, making it rather easy to get distracted and consequently lost in the game’s thick atmosphere. I, for one, couldn’t stop myself from taking screenshots every other minute.

Be bad to the bone… or good to a fault

Gameplay-wise, BLACKTAIL also delivers a familiar but nonetheless satisfying package. Your main weapon is your bow, but it can be upgraded by scavenging your surroundings for various ingredients; you can’t just mindlessly hunt down everything you see, though, because guess what, there’s also an alignment system. If you hunt innocent creatures or engage in deception and trickery when conversing with NPCs, your alignment will shift towards Evil, while staying as humble and harmless as a newborn babe will keep you on the Good end of the spectrum. Much like everything else in BLACKTAIL, these things have an effect on gameplay too, as going all the way in either direction, be it Good or Evil, will grant you different types of buffs and bonuses. So don’t worry, being evil does kind of pay off, but so does being good, so pick whichever you fancy.

Arcane archery

There’s also a very light “survival” element to gameplay, but if you’re as averse to the survival game genre as I am, you’ll be happy to hear this is kept pretty lowkey. From what I’ve seen in the demo, there’s no hunger or body temperature mechanic, thankfully, and the game is kind enough not to overcomplicate things – you just hunt down a deer and cook its meat through a simple but fun minigame to regain some HP, and that’s about it. At one point during the demo, you also tap into your supernatural prowess and learn the Deflect ability, allowing you to mow down various enemies in a cone in front of you, bringing yet another cool layer to both combat and exploration, as said power can also be used to destroy certain obstacles that bar your way. The demo then concluded with a simple but nonetheless enjoyable bossfight and a cool narrative hook that made me really want to find out what would happen next.

A journey worth embarking on?

All in all, I’m very impressed with BLACKTAIL so far. In just under 90 minutes, it managed to give me satisfying archery gameplay combined with supernatural powers, a cool crafting/upgrading mechanic and even a “good vs. evil” alignment system, to say nothing of the intriguing storyline, which I’m quite eager to see more of. First impressions are important, and BLACKTAIL has given me quite a solid one indeed. I have a good feeling about this one, and can only hope the full game will be able to keep the momentum going.

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