Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Blackwind by Drakkar Dev and Blowfish Studios was a “mech” based hack & slash shooter platformer sci-fi action title that I never knew that I needed. Brought down in size to what are known as Battle Frames, our protagonist finds himself trapped within this AI driven mech based battle suit as he searches for his father after their cruiser was shot down over Medusa-42 by a raging alien horde known as the Raknos.
Now, full disclosure (if it even needs to be said by now), I love cheese and B level movies and Blackwind gives me both with a side of Starship Troopers which is essentially the definition of cheese and B level movies. Starting off right before the crash onto Medusa-42, we are introduced to our protagonist James Hawkins who while talking to their father gets to see the new prototype battle frame up close and personal right before being ejected for their safety down to the planet without a jetpack or parachute. Waking up and discovering that the AI is already active, James is not allowed out until his father authorizes it which kicks off our journey.
This is about where a few issues could be found with the tone of Blackwind. On one hand, you have purposefully cheesy level dialog to set the mood of the adventure which works well. But then on the other hand, you have a seriously slick, fast moving, hack & slash action adventure with alien blood guts and gore being spread all over the place as you move forward to find James’ father which also works really well. In the middle though, you have a bit of a disconnect as the visual style and tone of the combat compared to the dialog don’t quite mesh as there are times where you won’t hear James at all and then suddenly you get an “ewwwww, that’s gross” as you pull off a finisher for the first time.
That said, that’s about my only complaint as I generally enjoyed this adventure and it doesn’t really overstay its welcome either. Clocking in around four or five hours, you’ll basically be speeding through one environment into the next hacking & slashing your enemies as you grab currency in order to level up according to your preferred play style. Up close and personal with your energy blades and their combos or from afar in a twin-stick styled shooter, that’s entirely up to you as there’s no wrong decision. There could be preferred options at times where you’ll want to move further back from the heavy hitters while other times you’ll want to move in close so that the ranged enemies can’t all fire at you, but that’s up to you and how you level up your battle frame.
Along the way you’ll be met with a few puzzles alongside the obvious combat challenges. What I enjoyed about the puzzles is that it wasn’t always just “throw this switch in order to open that door”. Instead, you’ll have to do that and then climb, run and jump some crazy distances as you progress through the adventure unlocking double jumps, hovering and dash jumping. These work well in this context as it keeps the pacing up instead of slowing to a crawl wondering what should be done next. I’m not saying that it can’t happen as you wonder how you’ll get to a specific spot, but overall, you’ll constantly be moving from start to finish.
Aside from the main story and your upgrade trees, there are a few other upgrades to your battle frame that can be found hidden either high up in a series of crazy jumps or within a side corridor inside of a ventilation shaft. Looking everywhere for these will only help you survive as the difficulty escalates. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also the possibility to find new skins for your battle frame which not only make you look cooler in some cases, but are also some nods to other science fiction series and you even get PSN trophies for equipping them from War Tech Fighters to Evangelion Unit-01 and Transformers’ Bumblebee.
Otherwise, short of the tonal difference in the beginning, the only complaint I have for Blackwind is that it feels like there’s a bit too much padding at times in the interior zones between puzzles with battle upon battle upon battle. I know that it’s a hack & slash but there were times where it just felt like these battles added additional time that was not needed even in a shorter experience such as this.
Overall though, Drakkar Dev and Blowfish Studios’ science fiction action adventure platformer mech based hack & slash Blackwind is a fun little adventure. You trek through the various areas that you’ll get to explore on the planet Medusa-42 as you play James Hawkins as he looks for his father.Score: 7 / 10