Blacktail, we tried The Parasight's survival fairytale

Blacktail, we tried The Parasight's survival fairytale


Among the most interesting initiatives launched at The Game Awards 2021 there are numerous demos released especially for the occasion on Xbox and PC. Thanks to these we had the opportunity to try Blacktail of The Parasight team. After having seen the excellent tried Nobody Saves the World, let's move on to another of the most impactful experiences in this send of demo with Blacktail, which presents itself in a very particular way, or as a sort of fairy tale transfigured into a survival. The game asks us to immerse ourselves in the fascinating and dark legend of Baba Yaga, but living it according to the classic traits of the first-person survival adventure.

The genre has now been explored far and wide, going from its purest meaning of survival in nature to the numerous post-apocalyptic interpretations or with horror veins as in Rust, DayZ or The Forest.

There are also completely different and original declinations such as Grounded, but in any case we can detect the common elements of a type of game that has conquered millions of players in a few years.

Those same characteristics are also found in this game, as regards exploration, collection of resources and the need to maintain high vital parameters within a hostile environment. We must say, however, that Blacktail represents one of the strangest experiences we have ever had to try within this now rather familiar structure.

The origins of Baba Yaga

Blacktail, the appearance of Baba Yaga's hut, in the image, is a particularly intense moment The originality derives entirely from the strong characterization given by the particular setting and from the story of Blacktail which, as we said, is a reinterpretation of the legend of Baba Yaga that aims to reconstruct the origins of the character. In the most bizarre and disturbing moments, the basic characteristics of the famous witch are revealed, whose presence is widespread in numerous fairy tales and stories of the folkloristic tradition of the Slavic countries, but everything is inserted in a particular context. This is because Yaga, the protagonist of the game, is here a girl with mysterious powers who has not yet chosen whether to become in all respects an evil witch or a woman able to exploit magic to do good: this choice is obviously left. to the player, who can decide from time to time how to deal with certain situations in order to tend to one side or the other in a moral system with two opposing poles, between good and evil.

Accused of witchcraft and expelled from the village , Yaga must survive in the wild forests and at the same time find her missing sister in mysterious circumstances, a key element in proving her innocence and redeeming herself in the eyes of other humans. But is this really the fate we want for the girl? Wouldn't it be more satisfying to give free rein to magical powers and take revenge on that humanity that has expelled and unjustly accused it? The whole development of events and the evolution of the character of Yaga is played on this dualism, through a simple but very effective moral system, which closely resembles what the Fable series experienced years ago, a game that, moreover, cannot avoid surfacing. to the memory even looking at the strange and fascinating fairy-tale scenarios that surround us.

Surviving a fairy tale

The natural scenarios maintain a fantastic style The basic elements of survival are easily recognized: armed with arc, we take the role of Yaga with the classic first-person shot, collecting plants, flowers and objects useful for survival and exploring the game world. It does not take long, however, to find ourselves in front of bizarre elements, which upset the canons of the genre a little: the forest is inhabited by numerous mysterious beings including talking animals, sentient mushrooms and various spirits that appear frequently on the path, reinforcing the feeling of being inside a fairy tale. One with disturbing tones, however: the wonderful natural scenarios conceal a sense of constant threat and, in all this, the darkest element seems to be the protagonist, in her always remaining in the balance between good and evil, pushed by a voice that presses for the most evil acts and clearly recalled towards her destiny as a witch.

In the first minutes of the game this contrast emerges clearly: following the path of the wood that should lead to the "red oak", period meeting fixed with the missing sister, the path takes us instead to an arcane place, adorned with roots that take on terrifying shapes and dominated by a strange hut built on what look like crow's feet: the house of Baba Yaga, as narrated in the legends.

In blacktail, the bow is Yaga's main weapon Right here, in the presence of a black cat, we witness the awakening of the girl's powers and we begin to have doubts about her essence: where do the strange powers of her? Why is she wearing a weird mask on her face? This ambiguity of Yaga is a fundamental element, and Blacktail plays right on the first person and the inability to see the protagonist clearly to increase the sense of mystery that surrounds her.

In the demo we can only see the beginning of this strange story, but we are already dealing with threatening giant mushrooms that push us to make onerous agreements, choose whether or not to help a "queen of the ants" and her intentions of domination over humanity and interact with various other creatures bizarre that, from time to time, place us in front of choices that build the moral address of Yaga, summarized by a screen that makes the girl lean towards the sun or the moon, with different specific abilities depending on the evolution. Among these, an interesting skill tree and of course the arch fights there seems to be good material for an engaging progression of the protagonist, who to tell the truth in the first hours remains quite stable in its characteristics and possibility of interaction with scenarios and creatures. various, perhaps too much.

A fascinating world

Blacktail's settings are very fascinating The construction of the world is undoubtedly the most fascinating aspect of Blacktail, the one that makes it truly stand out from everything else despite a fairly standard structure in itself. This result is achieved above all through the design of scenarios and creatures that demonstrate a rather inspired artistic direction, in several respects, while the polygonal construction follows the limits imposed by a fully indie production as well as still a bit immature and in need of further adjustments and cleaning. . There is a bit of discontinuity in the quality of the various game areas and in the care placed in the various elements on the screen, but in general the exploration of the areas is a real marvel, in the literal sense of the term, given that with all these oddities it is difficult to predict what might be encountered along the path, at least at first. After the initial phase of discovery, we begin to witness a certain recycling of the elements, also because the map does not seem boundless, but there is still considerable care in the construction of the different scenarios.

The contrast between the beauty of the natural glimpses and the strangeness of the magical elements is what determines the subtle uneasiness that is constant in the exploration of Blacktail: this sensation is also supported by a remarkable sound design, which alternates classical music and relaxing noises with the frequent presence of voices distorted, including the mysterious inner voice that always seems to want to guide Yaga to her darker side. In general, it is a bit like returning to the atmospheres of American McGee's Alice, with an atmosphere that tends to be more sunny and less noir, but not too facetious, since the dark veins are well present.

Despite an apparently standard and already seen game structure, Blacktail captures from the very first minutes thanks to its strange world and the promise of a protagonist who seems to be able to evolve in a rather unexpected way. Its distorted fairytale atmosphere, constantly poised between the wonder and disquiet that arises from the beauty of the natural scenery and the darkness of creatures and situations, appears perfectly in line with the idea of ​​a game about the origins of an ambiguous character. like the witch Baba Yaga. The premises are really excellent but it is to be seen how they will be developed, given that at the moment Blacktail is a rather simple survival in mechanics, waiting to be able to evaluate the progression system and the moral one in their entirety, perhaps with further enrichments to the combat. and crafting which, at present, have a certain need for variety and depth.


Fascinating game world and excellent atmosphere The progression system of the protagonist seems profound The possibility of choice proposed to the player could lead to interesting evolutions DOUBTS For the moment a bit simple and monotonous as game mechanics To be refined with regards to graphics and performance Have you noticed any errors?

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