Blackfaun – An Early Access Review
I think it is best if on the first Early Access Insight entry that I get this out of the way first. I want to encourage Early Access developers and publishers to submit their titles to Gamephasis to give them added exposure. However, I must state that I’ve never been much of a beta tester. I’m not generally the type of gamer who jumps aboard early access titles with vigor. I’m much more of a final product type of guy save for bug patches and downloadable content. It takes something that I would consider special to get me hyped about playing a game before release.
There are currently two acts with the third being in development. Although the studio declares that the game fits within the roguelike genre my initial reaction to the game would be to put it more into the pure action RPG genre as it reminds me more of Diablo and Torchlight than of the great roguelikes on Steam such as Spelunky, FTL and Rogue Legacy. However, at this early stage that may be semantics. The studio does have its own ideologies in regards to what they want to accomplish in order to make Blackfaun unique and to stand out from titles on both sides of the fence.
The first thing that struck me very positively are the game’s aesthetics. Although the graphics are not state of the art by any means they make up for it with a lot of charm. The game is very pleasing to the eyes and the effects work very well. With effects in early access titles you can never quite tell whether the effects will work well with the game play. Fortunately, the game plays as well as it looks. Everything feels very smooth and crisp. The goal of the game is to navigate through a series of areas – the first act is set in a forest setting – killing mobs and ultimately reaching the end of each area where you must deal with an end stage boss. Of course, there is quite a lot of loot and all of that fancy stuff. The scattered stores and chests throughout the level give exploration a purpose and is a joy.
I do have two bones to pick with the game. The first is a lack of tutorial. Essentially the current tutorial boils down to an overlay when the game begins showing you what the key and mouse commands do. Those of you yet to play similar games may not be familiar with the mechanics. Thankfully I believe that it is very easy to learn and you’ll be up to speed in next to no time. The lack of a real tutorial may be something that the studio is already aware of and may be planning to implement before the official release. The other problem that I have with the game is the, in my opinion, poor use of a skill and upgrade system. As you complete each level you are given 5 points to apply to AGI, INT and VIT. The problem with this was a lack of explanation of what I should be putting my points into. When I did spend them I never noticed a difference between what my character was able to do before I put them in. In fact, I never even knew that I had points to spend before I reached level 8. Killing mobs after I did use my talents had the same level of efficiency before I spent my points as it did afterwards.
I can wholeheartedly recommend Blackfaun at the early access price of $14.99. Understandably Wild Guess Software did not feel the need to give Blackfaun a discount during the Steam sale. However, they do plan on increasing the price when the game is officially released out of Early Access. I believe that it will be one of those games that you wish you had have gotten into at the lower price point. The game is solid enough that the studio should not feel the necessity to jump into a bundle until well after release. In all, Blackfaun is a clear passion project that has been developed by a very talented team with a clear development pathway. I cannot wait until it’s completed and I can experience it all over again.
This original review was written and published on January 1, 2016. A new review will be written shortly after the game leaves Early Access.