Blowfish Studios’ Blackwind, which was developed by Drakkar Dev, just launched for PCs and consoles, with physical versions coming out by way of Perp Games. We played the PlayStation version – here’s what we thought.
When we first saw some of the promo materials for Blackwind, its twin-stick shooting, isometric perspective and sci-fi feel reminded of us one of our 2021 favorites – The Ascent. This one seemed to have mechs though, so we couldn’t wait to go hands on with it. Story-wise, Blackwind is about mech pilot James Hawkins, who lands on the hostile alien planet of Medusa-42, where your mining facilities are being attacked and your father went missing.
The visuals aren’t as detailed as those in The Ascent, but the presentation of combat has been done very well – especially because two mechs going at it can look pretty visceral, especially when limbs get removed. There’s a good mix of melee and ranged combat, where dashing helps you to avoid getting hurt and lets you barge in to deal damage when the enemy lets his guard down. You can upgrade your moveset, and even add new abilities over the course of the game, which makes sure that combat never gets boring. Our favorite was adding a little drone to circle your mech and fire on enemies – a bit of a “you’ll never get me!” thing in certain scenes.
Blackwind, like The Ascent, also supports cooperative play, and the campaign has a game world that allows for exploration and even has a few puzzles – both of which reward you with loot that will help you get stronger or customize your appearance. The gameplay is constantly engaging, even when the narrative isn’t always – this is mostly due to poor writing and ditto voiceover work. The actual campaign structure could also use some streamlining, with objectives that could be more clear and/or a need for better directions as to where to go next.
Our biggest issue with Blackwind, however, was that the camera feels too zoomed in most of the time. It’s a great way to appreciate the mech designs and combat up close, but for a better overview we wish it was a bit more zoomed out – this would help both in combat, letting you zoom around your enemies, and in terms of pathfinding. Hopefully, that can still be addressed in a future patch – even a slightly more zoomed out view would go a long way.
Twin-stick shooter fans will certainly enjoy Blackwind, though it’s hard to ignore its flaws when we’ve seen better polished games in the genre in recent history.