BLACKTAIL PC Preview

BLACKTAIL is a successful medley of ideas with a story I'm fascinated to experience more of.

By LG18, Posted 20 Feb 2022

BLACKTAIL is a survival-shooter hybrid that tells the origin story of Baba Yaga – a supernatural being from Slavic Folklore. It’s a mish-mash of different ideas for sure, but overall, the game is an exemplar of this medium’s unique storytelling utility.

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We play as Yaga, a 16-year-old girl who has been banished from her home for supposedly practicing witchcraft. She now wonders what is a wonderfully realized fairy tail woodland setting, and it's this aspect of the game that first drew me in.

The artistic direction brilliantly nails the uncanny beauty of enchanted nature. While fairy tales are meant for children, many of them have a sinister side – a juxtaposition BLACK TALE emphasizes with brighter than bright flora and dream-like chromatic aberration. The world around you is indisputably beautiful, but the game instills a constant sense of uneasiness as you wander its sun-drenched environment.

This isn’t a straight horror title as such, but the strange occurrences, trippy character designs, and most of all, your own deleterious actions, make for some seriously creepy gameplay. 

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This unique brand of the atmosphere is augmented by some fantastic voice acting. The main character, as well as the spiteful voice in her head, are voiced authentically and passionately; and the variety of mad-cap creatures you encounter along the way (including monarchistic ants and ambivalent mushrooms) channel the flamboyant characteristics and inflections of our best childhood story-tellers.

On the gameplay side, BLACKTAIL is underpinned by traditional crafting and shooting mechanics. While I found neither element to be especially outstanding, what I saw of the extensive skill tree was intriguing. I couldn’t progress enough during the beta to form a conclusive opinion, but it's clear there’s scope for some deep, well-structured progression. Perhaps more critical to your playthrough, though, is the morality system – a feature that by the assertion of its fairy tale origins, the game captures particularly well. 

Whether this young witch is ultimately the prodigy of evil is left up to us. The game constantly presents the player with moral decisions, ranging from saving a trapped bird from a carnivorous plant to much larger plot-based choices. Cleverly, these decisions also influence your play style and the type of upgrade paths you explore: a player will focus more or less on either crafting or combat based on their morality. 

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Having said this, the world is surprisingly large. The map denotes what appears to be an expansive area to explore, and if the developers can pack in as much detail to the rest of the world as they have in this beta, BLACKTAIL could shape up to be very impressive. If there was one gripe I did have with the map, though, it would be the traversal. At times, I found it confusing to reach certain locations on account of the linear path getting there necessitated. In my mind, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a milestone for actualizing open-world gameplay in that it allowed you to climb over any surface – it allowed for fluid movement about the environment which advocated you take shortcuts to navigate a destination efficiently. 

This is admittedly more challenging in first-person, but an on-the-fly mantle ability wouldn’t have gone a miss. I’d often see what was an obvious shortcut but would have to navigate a more convoluted path. This linearity was at odds with beautifully designed terrain and what is a nimble and spritely main character, so it’d be nice to see this aspect tweaked to reflect that in the final release.

Other than the above, I don’t have a negative word to say about my experience with BLACKTAIL. What I played was a well-crafted, novel take on an interesting story. Its quirks are something I’m eager to explore more of, and I commend The Parasight for their decision to take on the challenge of a smaller, focussed, and more detailed open-world gameplay.
 

Linden Garcia
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

BLACKTAIL

/100

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): The Parasight
Developer(s): The Parasight
Genres: Role-Playing
Themes: Shooter, Horror, First-Person, Adventure
Release Date: 2022

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