James Hawkins is the son of an acclaimed weapons scientist. Together, they are traveling to a military base to unveil the latest in weapons technology, a new Battle Frame named Blackwind, when their ship is attacked. In Blackwind, a top-down sci-fi platformer brawler, you play as James as you survive hordes of aliens inside of the titular combat mech. Heavily armed and assisted by Blackwind’s onboard AI, James searches for his lost father while caught in the middle of the tense struggle between the military and the marauding aliens.
Blackwind’s combat for the most part is very good. Players have their choice between a variety of ranged weapons or a host of melee combat options. Combat is satisfying and it’s a lot of fun to kill the aliens throughout the base. There is also a nice selection of skins for the battleframe to find. I was not able to find them all but the ones I did find, I liked a lot.
- Varied combat
- Wide selection of skins for the Battle Frame
Unfortunately, I have a lot of negative things to say about Blackwind. My chief complaint is the sound design. The mixing is done poorly, some sounds are way too loud in comparison to the rest of the game. The main menu changes throughout the game but the first one that the game shows is one that has several fires burning in a scorched battlefield, and the sound of the fires is deafening. The aliens all sound the same, leading to a horde of different enemies all making the same growling sound over and over again. The music sounds like something off of a royalty-free website and there is this disgusting sound that plays throughout the game that seems attached to absolutely nothing. It plays consistently throughout every area I’ve been through, regardless of enemy presence, and it sounds like someone playing with raw chicken over a loudspeaker. Given how often I’ve heard it, I can only assume it’s part of the game's soundtrack.
Another complaint I have is the voice acting and the scripting. The voice actors do a very poor job and their script is terrible to boot. A good voice actor can elevate a script and a good script can have the audience overlook a lacking actor. However when both are bad, the experience is painful. Character’s talk way too much, saying redundant sentences like “Enemies nearby detected.” Enemies nearby and Enemies detected are essentially the same statement, and I know this is nitpicky, but I wouldn’t be mentioning this if I didn’t hear it with literally every group of enemies I encountered, even if it was two groups on opposite sides of the same room. You will also be reminded if a door is locked every single time you approach it, regardless of if you’re even facing it.
James Hawkins himself is inconsistently characterized. He starts the game off terrified of his situation, fearing for his father and for his own life. However, as soon as he enters a room of enemies, he becomes an action hero and says something like “Try and kill me, if you can.”
- Poor sound design and mixing
- Poor scripting and voice acting
- Inconsistent characters
Final Score: 3/10
At the end of the day, Blackwind’s core gameplay is the only positive it has going for it. That is a very important positive to have and at first, I was going to give this game a much better score off of that merit alone. However as the game progressed, it’s flaws kept wearing on me, eroding away my patience like a consistent water flow turning a stream into a river. I love fighting the game’s enemies, but it’s a huge problem when I hate listening to the game. I’m not ashamed to admit that towards the end of my time with Blackwind, I muted the game. I only unmuted it whenever I encountered a boss in order to hear the music. It’s a shame but my enjoyment of the game increased as soon as I stopped listening to it. However, that alone did not make the game good. Enemy design and environments are very samey, the map is barebones and does not hint at all about how to progress, wall buttons that unlock doors are often easy to miss and the camera angles can often hide them from you. This is just a small selection of game design missteps that I would easily overlook if the game had more going for it.
Thank you for checking out our Blackwind Switch review, thank you to Blowfish Studio for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support:
- Andrew Caluzzi (Inca Studios / Camped Out)
- Bel Cubitt