Hamburg-based studio Daedalic Entertainment, having published several successful adventure games, is making their first foray into the role-playing genre. The 4th project that Daedalic is working on right now, in addition to The Night of the Rabbit, Goodbye Deponia and Memoria, is Blackguards, a RPG/turn-based strategy hybrid.
The story takes place in Aventuria, the world of The Dark Eye table-top RPG series that some of you may know from Realms of Arkania and Drakensang. According to the developers, Blackguards‘ campaign will take roughly 40 hours to beat (including sidequests). Travelling with up to 6 characters, each with a detailed backstory, the players can expect a lot of battles on more than 190 uniquely designed battlegrounds.
Naturally, we wanted to find out more about the game, so we talked to Florian Pett, the producer of Blackguards.
Riot Pixels: How long Daedalic has been working on this project?
Florian Pett: This April it’s been two years.
RP: What is the story of Blackguards? And who are these Blackguards, anyway?
FP: The story of Blackguards is basically that of a circle of childhood friends who get separated after one of them, the main character of the game, is accused of murdering one of their friends.
The Blackguards are a fellowship of rogues and outlaws, joining the main character on their way through the world. Everyone is hiding something and they aren’t of the confiding type either, but they are the only friends the main character still has in this dangerous world. The protagonist is in search for the real murderer but on this journey struggle and setbacks will be a constant companion in a story written by death and betrayal.
RP: Are there any crossovers with Daedalic’s adventure games based on The Dark Eye? How is it related, timeline- and geography-wise, to other recent TDE games, like Drakensang?
FP: It is completely independent from our adventure game. While it does take place on the same continent, the locations in this game are radically different and take place in a more Mediterranean-like setting. The timeline-relation to Chains of Satinav is really irrelevant because of this. Taking place in the Horas Empire of Aventuria, Blackguards is also set far away from anywhere Drakensang took place.
RP: What is the structure of the game’s campaign? What is there to do between battles? How do we travel around the world?
FP: The campaign is played out in five acts, each of which tells a different part of the story and allows access to a different part of the world. The player’s group travels around the world on a world-map with a network of roads and ways leading from place to place with a chance of random encounters along the roads and at plot-relevant locations. The player can also visit cities or villages and interact with NPCs by ways of talking and trading equipment etc. once they have reached a location that isn’t a purely violent encounter.
FP: The campaign is mostly linear as the story is a complex piece of writing that needs to be told in sequence if it is to make sense. Branching storylines would also shorten play time for those who only play through it once. Also, the characters we want to present and the stories we want to tell through them are set in specific constellations throughout the story.
There will be key moments where the players can decide how they act towards their friends and enemies, influencing attitudes toward them and the outcome of the game itself. There are even situations where the player must chose allegiances and can end up on either side of a battle. There are, of course, optional side-quests to be done outside of the main campaign.
RP: Are there any non-combat-related quests?
FP: There are some quests that mostly involve talking and do not directly require violence for solving them, but as this is a strategy game, these are the exception rather than the rule.
RP: How deeply can we customize the main character? Can we select class, abilities, looks, backstory?
FP: The player gets to select one of three classes and their gender. While appearance is limited to 5 variants per gender and the backstory is set to fit within the overall plot of the game, abilities and the leveling up thereof are fully at the player’s discretion for all of their party members.
RP: The feature list mentions «6 playable characters». How many of them can we travel with at any given time?
FP: The number of companions the player-character travels and fights with at any given time varies depending on the story but is usually between two and four, making up a group-size typical to a party in the pen and paper version of The Dark Eye.
RP: Tell us more about the unique battlegrounds.
FP: The battlegrounds are location-specific. They are highly detailed and have unique interactive features. As the story progresses, battles take place in locations of cut-scenes, cities and on the road, where the battle-overlay of a gridmap and options of interactions is projected onto the scenery. Each location has been put together by hand in order to give the player battle maps that make sense as well as offering unique and sophisticated challenges.
RP: What are the target platforms for Blackguards, and when do you plan to release it?
FP: The game is supposed to run on the PC only, being distributed in retail and via the Steam Network. [According to the official press release, the game will be out in Q3 2013 - Ed.]