Fog is one of nature’s moodiest weather patterns. When it arrives it instills an eerie sense of caution in you as you peer through it, never quite sure of what will be in front of you as it obscures your surroundings. It’s really no wonder that fog has been used so often in fiction to set a particular tone. In Black Legend, fog is a central plot point, the city of Grant having been shrouded in permanent fog by a man named Mephisto.
The task is to find the source of the fog and clear it, while also dealing with Mephisto’s cultists and those that the fog has turned aggressive, but it’s not altruism that is driving the band of four mercenaries you control forward. No, they’re doing this to earn a pardon from the king.
As you may expect from a turn-based game, the balance of classes in your party is key. Black Legend has a rather open and unrestrictive system allowing you to experiment with different builds throughout, unlocking more classes as you continue. At any point outside of combat you can switch your character’s classes and the gear they have equipped. When you change a class the game will automatically assign the best equipment you have in your inventory that will complement that best. It is a really good system that takes some of the guesswork out from picking equipment. That is not to say it sorts everything out for you. You are left to equip consumables such as health drinks and grenades, as well as the character’s perks and abilities.
Abilities and perks feed into Humours. That is not where you crack jokes with enemies hoping to make them laugh to death, but plays on the ancient medical idea of balancing the four humours within the body – black bile, yellow bile, blood, and phlegm. Each character, whether they’re party members or enemies, are susceptible to humours and most abilities impact them in some way. For example, the lacerate ability causes an opponent to bleed and adds to the imbalance of the red humour. If someone else then attacks with an ability that impacts the black humour, the cumulative imbalance of black and red mixes leaves a vulnerability for the right attack to then deal bonus damage.
The best thing about the abilities is that you can carry some over between classes if a character has sufficient experience with it, allowing you to partly customise a class. Perks are equipped through items and these can help stack damage based on the humours. Once you get into the combat, it becomes quite simple to follow, in part thanks to the decent tutorial.
Enemies vary from wild dogs through to different levels of cult members and bosses. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses, and battles can be a real challenge depending on how enemies are placed when they spot you, and the environment in which you encounter them.
Unfortunately, there are some major issues that can crop up. On a couple of occasions, combat would start and a party member would simply disappear. The game would still register the character as existing, but if I tried to do anything the game would state that the target was out of range because it could not locate the character. You can skip the missing character’s turn but the fight continues with your remaining three, stacking the odds against you. On another occasion, an enemy was climbing a crate against a wall and then just shot into the sky. The system couldn’t move onto the next character as the enemy was registered as being present and still having moves to make – I had to restart the checkpoint here.
Movement is also a bit off. Sometimes characters just take an odd path and fall off something, which counts as movement and ends their turn. There are also times where you are fighting the camera when trying to select a position to move to. On certain occasions the camera would zoom into a spot and then not let you move around smoothly as it would be butting against the environment.
When the combat works, and it does for the majority of Black Legend, it works well but when you encounter a bug, it’s infuriating.
The world of Black Legend is divided into districts, each of which has a distinct style despite the fog that coats the whole world. The style looks good too evoking a sense of doom and gloom. There is no world map to consult so you have to pay attention to where you are going, but becomes easy to navigate thanks to street signs and recognisable landmarks.
Later on in the game a sort of fast travel system opens up through the city’s wells. It helps alleviate some of the repetitive nature of the quests in the game, many of which require you to fetch items between different districts. Without the wells, trekking between the different sides of Grant gets tedious. That does not include having to listen to the rather hammy and over the top voice acting that threatens to break the atmosphere that Black Legend’s world attempts to set. There is some scant lore and narrative, it is just not that engrossing. There is little payoff at the end with the game ending abruptly right after the final battle.