Friday, July 3, 2015

The Friday FREE GAME Feature! Ep24: Blackthorne

Test your wits and reflexes in this classic cinematic platformer from Blizzard!

Blackthorne is a blast from the past, originally released for MS-DOS and the SNES back in 1994. The game features some minor puzzle solving and gunplay alongside the jumping, climbing and rolling you'd expect from a cinematic platformer. You play as the prince of an enslaved kingdom who has returned to free his people and seek revenge on their captors. 

Your primary weapon is a shotgun which deals with the basic enemies fairly well, but does little against the larger foes. For that, you'll use a variety of items scattered throughout the game (mostly hover bombs). You (and your enemies) can dodge most attacks by simply hiding against a wall, and combat typically involves patience as you duck in and out of cover trying to score hits. This is a fun idea at first but gets repetitive fairly quickly, though I feel it was probably better than employing a simple shoot'em'up style of play. My biggest complaint here is that you can't draw your weapon while in cover, which doesn't seem like that big of a deal since you can use other items while hidden.

As with most games of the genre, Blackthorne has a few control quirks that can sometimes be annoying to deal with. For example, attempting to take cover while directly under a ledge will instead make your character grab for that ledge (and probably get you shot in the process). While these situations are fairly rare, they are still frustrating when encountered. Taking into account the age of the game though, I feel it's forgivable. In a similar vein, NPCs can stand in spots that force you to talk to them instead of what you were attempting to do, like climbing a ladder or reaching for a ledge. Blizzard provided an interesting answer to this by allowing you to shoot the NPCs if you don't feel like waiting for them to move! This was pretty much unheard of for games made 20+ years ago.

Overall, Blackthorne is a fairly enjoyable title. Fans of cinematic platformers should give it a try, if just for the sake of experiencing a classic in the genre.

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