Test – Blacktail – Legend of Baba Yaga | Xbox One

Blacktail was just released on the Xbox store on December 15, 2022. Published by Focus Entertainment and developed by the young Polish studio THE PARASIGHT, founded in 2019, presents its first game here. After the trailer, the long-awaited promises in terms of story, graphics and gameplay, will they be there? Our answers now!

The story of a young masked girl

We start this Blacktail test with a forced transition from the title screen. After a brief look at the not-so-innovative settings, we jump right into the New Game. First we are offered the option to adjust the gamma level, then comes the choice of the difficulty of the game. We have the choice between Adventure, which represents the original Blacktail experience according to THE PARASIGHT, or History. a version that allows him to focus and explore the world. No need to beat around the bush, an integral experience is welcome.

We debut Blacktail as Yaga. He left his village to find his twin Zora, who disappeared like the other children. You should know that throughout her childhood, Yaga was persecuted by the villagers because of a strange birthmark, so she hid it behind a mask. The game starts when we wake up while sleeping by the campfire. We hear our twin’s voice, calling us, asking us to join him in the red oak, then we take our bow. On the way, we encounter giant slugs called Vodniks, which are very easily killed by running over them. The moment comes when we discover that the arrows must be made of wood and feathers, which we find easily, because the ingredients are highlighted and little fireflies swirl around them. Then we go through the precision shooting phase to learn how to use our favorite weapon.

A short cinematic is followed by the decisive choice of our path along the adventure: darkness or light. Let’s go to the dark side for this test. The modest female voice humiliates us, claims that we are incapable of fighting for ourselves, that we are always in the shadow of our twin sister. He tells us that he has seen everything and tells us to find a hut. Luckily it was only a nightmare and we wake up with our bellies on our heels. It is time to hunt to meet our food needs. As we go after the deer, we come across a shrine with a save point to activate with a red flower. We leave to look for our food and find that our destination is shown on the compass at the top of the screen, which makes direction much easier. After a few seconds, we meet a little hedgehog, probably as hungry as we are. The apple hangs from the tree, the fruit that desires it! After shooting the arrow, the animal takes it. As a reward, we receive a positive morale bonus. We take the opportunity to tour the menus to understand the consequences of our actions.

Every action affects our morale, in our case killing birds to regrow their feathers or helping a little hedgehog. The progress bar shows us our spiritual stance, which if high enough gives us bonuses, whether towards darkness or light.

Since we’re on menus, let’s take a look at the features on offer. We have access to the Inventory tab, which is independent of collected resources to craft arrows and antidotes. Apparently, important items are kept here. If we face a difficult opponent without going through the quick menu, we still have the opportunity to create ammo and potions, which is very useful: Breathing and thinking about the strategy to adopt can be life-saving!

The log tab informs us about the evolution of the story, as well as ongoing and already achieved objectives. We can directly access the map and select the task to follow.

Let’s go to the Talents tab. Here is the skill tree. Many points can be unlocked using Lost Pages. Others are thanks to ingredients gathered here and there during our adventure. We notice that some of these ingredients are teeth! We will talk about this very soon.

Then we have the Almanac tab, which serves as the knowledge base for the game. Note that the Polish studio carefully details the Blacktail universe to immerse the player as well as possible. After this short break, we continue hunting guided by the deer plate. we immediately pass strange spiders with an eye on the snow. After killing, we recover crystals from them that can be used for our alchemy recipes. After the death of the deer that fell under our arrows, we made our way to our campfire as quickly as possible, not forgetting to carefully search the rest of the area and discover a chest waiting for us to open. Oh joy, we restore a tooth inside, synonymous with the ability to improve the skills of our hero. Back to our starting point, we use fire to cook our meat. A mini-game is triggered where you must deftly maneuver an open circle in part of its structure to allow the flames to pass through.

After being satiated, we learn that both positive and negative situations can appeal to Yaga. Let’s start with the positives: regeneration allows our vitality to rise slowly, speeds up our haste, and activates the critical damage of our concentration arrows. For the negatives: poison reduces our vitality, slows down our moves, and finally, confusion makes it harder to aim with the bow.

We secretly see the ethereal spirit that finally leads us to the hut. On the way we see a strange creature: Bobok. It’s a kind of pinecone with glowing eyes scattered throughout the game. If you hit them, their spirits rise and they leave behind a precious chemical called Shelloc. Just then, at the turn of a dark road, the hut that the voice spoke to us in our dream appears.

Before entering, we see a black cat. This allows us to fast travel between multiple teleport points and our base hut. We can use a cauldron to improve our character using the ingredients found earlier inside. After a short cinematic, we are invited to follow a track that leads to a family of talking mushrooms. They ask us to complete a certain quest to enter the next area and that’s how our saga begins!

Tales within tales

The Polish studio invites us to rediscover our childhood tales. Indeed, the game is full of close and distant similarities to Sleeping Beauty, The Three Little Pigs, Snow White and many other stories. Combine this with our path and choices to create our own story, whether it’s during milestones, side quests, or discovery phases. In addition, morale affects the way we fight, as well as the regeneration of resources to produce our arrows and potions.

Finally, Blacktail is quite long, both story-wise and exploration stages. The story unfolds according to four seasons, each associated with a setting, that is, one area is in spring, the second in summer, and so on. Of course, the artistic direction faithfully expresses them. In terms of exploration, we can tell you that after the first areas were blocked due to lack of special powers, we went back to see what we could discover there. It’s nice to discover new side quests to find an upgrade for one of our many powers, but we’re not going to reveal everything to you just yet! Speaking of upgrading and exploration, the two are closely related, and the more adventurous will be greatly rewarded.

As for the treatment of our masked hero, we can say that THE PARASIGHT knows its subject well. Despite a few mistakes in sticking to certain places, our character reacts quickly, attacks and powers are perfect. Please note that we can implement the base mapping we believe will be possible in all games. In terms of the soundtrack, those allergic to Shakespeare’s language will get pimples! Don’t worry, it’s still translated into French, the subtitles are clear and stay on the screen for a long time. The interplay between yaga and sound is ubiquitous and frankly makes us laugh at times. Otherwise, the surround sound effects are very accurate, as well as their spatialization. After a few hours, we easily recognize the various bonuses or enemies around us. The music is quite pleasing to the ear, although we wish there wasn’t more of it. In comparison, we’re closer to a two-track CD than a Mozart symphony. Now on to our favorite part of this title, the art direction! The game is really nice. The colors are bright in spring, warm in summer, pale in autumn and cold in winter. Particles drift in all directions, especially when we use our powers. The lighting effects are very successful, especially during the light/shadow transitions, which proves that the Polish studio works very well in this area. A small wink that appears every now and then reminds us that we are in a fairy tale. When the sun, clouds, moon and stars appear, it is as if a child has drawn the sky.

Also note that there are two video settings in options, performance and quality. It’s not new compared to other games that have been released for a while. On the other hand, we have the possibility to limit the frame rate at 30 or 60 FPS, and this without any restrictions, even in the quality settings. There is still one negative point, yes, unfortunately, everything is not perfect, it is for the best. Few different enemies will fall under our power. Also, their attacks have little variety and the AI ​​is outdated. Shame.

The real challenge for bounty hunters is to completely search the entire map to find all the chests, collectibles, and hidden side quests. After that, you have to choose between the path of darkness or light, not too far from the beginning of the game, under the penalty of not being able to unlock several moral achievements.

Tested on Xbox Series X (optimized version)

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