Exiled for a reason.
In my short time writing reviews for Game Revolution, I've learned something about myself: I have a serious soft spot in my heart for "bad games". They, in a weird way, give me hope... that thought that "Wow, somebody actually green-lighted this... thing" makes me think whatever I, or the fantasy game designer within me, might create is totally viable. That, and I like being able to "Mystery Science Theater" something in my favorite hobby.
[image1]And to that, I say thank you, makers of Black Sigil.
Just reading the back of the packaging has me confused... how the hell does having a bad guy - with no magic at all - scare anyone? "Oh noez, he has no spells! So... throw fireballs at him, see if that works?" You play the role of Kairu, a young man without magic in a world of magicians. To put it bluntly... everyone (except your gifted sister) hates you. And wants you dead.
Really... Your lack of magic scares people to death. If you don't understand, that's fine... I'm still confused as well.
[image2]The game looks so much like it wants to be compared to Chrono Trigger I was tempted to, but the writing simply isn't up to snuff. Bland, static characters and some of the most boring dialogue I have ever been asked to sit through soaks the potentially interesting storyline in high-grade arsenic. The only character with any... character... is Aurora, and she's the same “spunky” female character that permeates every JRPG ever. If she wasn't in there, there would be an uproar, though I doubt too many players will be complaining, because if they've got their system open and are playing this, they're likely passed out asleep from boredom.
Black Sigil was developed originally for the Game Boy Advance, and that is made painfully obvious in its presentation. The game is very reminiscent of SNES RPGs, which the GBA did really well, but even so, it's trying hard to be something of a Final Fantasy III / VI or Chrono Trigger, and just fumbles over itself. Not "classic", not "retro"... outdated. The bulk of this game could have very well been made using the tools in RPG Maker on the PSOne.
[image3]And the battles – the lifeblood of every great RPG – are about as slow as Duke Nukem
ForNever Forever's dev cycle. No tension at all. Each fight is slow and tedious, mixing the standard RPG-menu battle system with a stunted real-time element that's supposed to keep the player engaged. Each character has to wait roughly ten seconds between attacks, and apparently so does each enemy on screen; they don't attack often, and neither do you. In practice, it's about as enthralling as watching ice cream melt on the sidewalk. But even then, watching which way the cream runoff migrates would be more captivating than slugging through the fighting. Even the bosses seem to slog on for too long and are just so uninspired. Wow, another generic beast to fight, and he's a lot bigger than me... *yawn, stab, collect gold and level up*.
When there are so many great role-playing games on the DS floating around now – Lunar, the various Final Fantasies, Dragon Quest, even Guadia Quest in the Retro Game Challenge – I don't know how this one will find a niche. It's just so not remarkable, so bland, so... not interesting... you get what I'm saying. Slow and lame, that's what I'm saying.