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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Graffiti Entertainment
Developed By: Studio Archcraft
Genre: Traditional RPG
Players: 1
Rated: E (Everyone)
Release Date: June 9, 2009
Screenshots: Link
Written By: Matthew Prunty

From the era of Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis to the current generation, RPGs have always had been looked upon as the only source for the best entertainment money can buy. Sure first-person shooters and driving games have become increasingly popular; no one can deny the fact that RPGs pay on the hearts, minds and emotions of its gamers, having an everlasting affect on the videogame industry. With this in mind, Studio Archcraft looked to recapture that essence and package it into a finely-tuned gaming experience, which ultimately became known as Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled.

Black Sigil has you taking on the roll of Kairu, a teenage swordsman who is feared (and) hated by practically everyone in Bel Lenora. The reason behind him being disliked is simply because he is the only one born to not have any magical abilities whatsoever. The last individual who was born with a similar situation, General Vai, ended up trying to rule the world, but ultimately met his end at the hands of Kairuís adopted father, General Duke Averay. Though Duke Avery was seen as a hero for his actions, a government order was issued to General Averay and Kairu, which resulted in Kairu being sent into exile at the Cursed Caves. Though no one knew it at the time, Kairuís exile is ultimately the start of an epic quest, which will have him traverse the world and determine its fate.

For those who have played RPG titles from the 16-bit era, you definitely notice a lot of similarities with those games and Black Sigil. For the most part, you are traveling from town to town, gathering information, supplies, etc. Along the way you will do several bouts within dungeons, each acting like a long, winding maze with an epic boss at the end. The dungeons are also the location of practically all your battles with countless enemies who are all trying to kill you. Some have complained about how there are one too many battles that you come across while in the dungeons. While this is true, you can avoid many of the battles by simply running away, which will result in the enemy not continuing to follow you thus not triggering a battle sequence. Though keep in mind if you donít fight enough battles along the way, situations will become increasingly more difficult to complete as you progress through the game.

Just like most RPGs, Black Sigil uses the traditional turn-based battle format. During battle, all physical attacks, spells and items used must be selected from a text-based menu, which can be accessed by either the D-pad or using the stylus. While the stylus method is intuitive, selecting the required action is much quicker and responsive using the D-pad. During these battles, you also have the freedom to move about the battlefield and perform combination attacks on your opponents with a fellow teammate. Upon completing the battle, all team members receive full experience points, including those who werenít in the battle. However only the active party members can learn combination attacks.

When it comes to the visuals, Black Sigil pays homage to the great RPGs of the early 90s. Not every title can stand the test of time like such classics as Secret of Mana and Chrono Trigger, and Studio Archcraft realized that, so they wanted to make sure that their title looked just as good if not better than its predecessors. Such things as character sprites, spell effects, and onscreen text font all pull influence for the RPGs of yesterday, which aids the titleís overall appeal. The town layouts and designs are well thought out and executed. The overall visual presentation is of high quality and nostalgic flavor all rolled up into one.

Seeing how Studio Archcraft wanted to have a retro look and feel to Black Sigil, an equally impressive retro soundtrack was used to help emphasis important events, emotions, and set the overall mood of the game. By todayís standards, the audio quality of the musical score is severely lacking, but considering it was design for a specific purpose, it works wonders for the overall presentation of the game. Iím not sure about everyone else, but I found myself sometimes humming some of these tunes, whether I was playing the game or not.

In todayís cycle of videogame releases, itís a rare find to find an RPG experience that takes you back to the days of the Super Nintendo. With an engaging story, nostalgic visuals, and a well put together musical soundtrack, Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled is a true gaming experience that will be remembered long after the Nintendo DS has been put to rest. Though there were a few issues with the game, none of them stop the enjoyment factor of the experience. Though I have never heard of Studio Archcraft until this title, I can certainly say that the developer has cemented their legacy with Blades of Sigil.


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