|Genre||Beat Em Up|
|Platforms||PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (Reviewed)|
|Release Date||January 20, 2022|
When a teenage boy finds himself alone on a strange planet in an AI-controlled mech suit, the only thing to do is obliterate everything in your path. With help from his dad’s prototype “battle frame,” James will have to save his old man, destroying everything in his way. Nothing can stop raging hormones and their computerized partner.
Spiritual Content: There’s are story beats that will feel reminiscent of Avatar (the sci-fi film, not the beloved cartoon). The AI begins to become more human as it grows.
Violence: Blackwind is a beat ’em up/shooter crossover that’s largely family-friendly until you perform execution moves. Some of these are surprisingly disturbing, with the teenage James literally crushing the heads of soldiers in his robotic hands as blood pours out or slicing open foes with light blades.
Sexual Content: There is no sexual content in Blackwind.
Drugs and Alcohol: There are no drugs or alcohol.
Language/Crude Humor: There isn’t much foul language or crude humor in the game. I do recall the use of the word “B*****d” during one cutscene, though.
James and his father, a scientist who’s created a brilliant AI-driven mech suit, are shot down over the planet Medusa-42 as they’re en route to deliver the machine to on-planet military. The teenager, separated from his dad, finds himself trapped in the machine. Now his only choice is to find his father to deactivate the machine and get him out. The only problem is that a corrupt military leader wants the suit for himself and will stop at nothing to acquire it.
For a narrative with so much potential, the story itself feels surprisingly rote. There are no real surprising twists. The dialog is hamfisted, too. On top of that, I would’ve sworn I watched this story play out in one of the Iron Man movies or a James Cameron film in recent years. Still, for what it is, the storytelling does help keep the action moving along.
Blackwind‘s top-down beat-em-up/shooting actually makes for an enjoyable combat experience. It doesn’t do anything ground-breaking, but between the upgrades you can earn and the variety of locales, things feel fresh enough to see the adventure to its conclusion. It’s worth noting, however, that finishers feel awkward and out of place. They freeze other enemies in place while a kill animation plays out. This jars the pace of combat but can be a welcome respite if you’re in a tight spot and need to recover health.
My one big complaint with Blackwind is that it can start to feel a little long in the tooth. As with many beat-em-ups, combat can begin to feel repetitive, dragging out the experience. You’re ultimately just going from one arena to another, solving the occasional puzzle and destroying everything along the way.
Blackwind does a good job making use of its environments. There are a handful of hidden collectibles in the game trophy hunters will enjoy tracking down. I also love the clearly geeky passions of the developers, including easter eggs fans will enjoy from Star Wars to Star Trek to Alien and more.
Blackwind‘s visuals are all over the place. Everything looks good in motion but there’s nothing that will make your jaw drop. Up close, the battle frame has an impressive amount of detail, but that all seems to get lost with the isometric camera. Animation is smooth but, as previously mentioned, things like the instant kills take you out of the action.
Blackwind is far from a perfect game, but at the end of the day, I had fun with it. I enjoyed the combat, the progression keeps things moving, and the geeky easter eggs were neat to discover. If you want a beat ’em up to get you (and maybe a co-op friend) through for a few hours, Blackwind could be up your alley.
Review copy generously provided by Stride PR.
The Bottom Line
Blackwind is a beat 'em up with fun combat and progression that feels hampered by a mediocre story.