hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Review: Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled

2:00 PM on 06.26.2009 // Jim Sterling
  @JimSterling

The thing about old school RPGs is that, no matter how bad they are, so long as they contain plenty of grinding, a high encounter rate and the exact same tropes we've seen in the genre for the past twenty years, there will always be some group of nerds willing to lap it all up. That's clearly the mentality behind the release of Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled.

It contains nothing we haven't seen before a hundred times by now, but it is so bargain basement in its presentation, so dull in its execution and so pointless in its existence, that it struggles to even stand on the crutches it's fashioned out of stolen ideas from other, better, RPGs. 

I should point out that this probably isn't going to be a very positive review.

Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled (DS)
Developer: Studio Archcraft
Publisher:
Grafitti Entertainment
Released: June 9, 2009
MSRP: $29.99

I should disclose that I found Black Sigil so unutterably dreary that I never made it to the end. After hours and hours of endless random battles with nothing to show for it, I decided to put the thing to bed. The fact of the matter is that not one second of my time spent with Black Sigil was really very fun. The whole thing is a chore from start to finish, and incredibly badly designed for the handheld market.

Save points are few and far between, sometimes not even provided before a major boss fight, leading to replaying vast segments of game if one gets killed. Dungeons are a slow crawl, and the random battles, which can occur every few seconds, are themselves incredibly long, repetitive and boring. 

The game doesn't even look all that good. Sprite-based graphics tend to be gorgeous, but the lazy art direction and barely animated characters are horrible to look at, especially when performing the same tasks over and over again. The music is pretty forgettable as well, and sounds incredibly simplistic. 

All of this is wrapped up in a poorly written story that threatens to be interesting, but eventually comes off as a poor man's Chrono Trigger. You take on the role of Kairu, a typically named young RPG hero born in a world where people can use magic. By an unfortunate coincidence, Kairu is born without this ability, just like an evil curse-bringer who once threatened the world many years prior. Kairu is distrusted for this very reason, but soon finds himself in another world and doing all sorts of pointless nonsense until I got sick of reading the boring text. 

Perhaps if the dialog was more interesting, or the attempts at humor didn't collapse embarrassingly, it would have been worth slogging through the dire combat system, but it would had to have been excellent in order to do so. The game is very clearly attempting to be Chrono Trigger, but with none of the charm, tight gameplay, or even better graphics. The top-down, free roaming combat system looks like Square Enix's classic RPG, but it sure as Hell isn't that game, no matter how hard it tries. 

Ripping off the Active Time Battle system, Black Sigil attempts to innovate by allowing characters to move around in real-time by pressing the L button and using the D-pad. Doing so, however, takes up that character's turn, so it really just helps to drag out battles even more. There isn't really any benefit to moving around, either, so what the game does is throw in area-of-effect monster attacks and, even worse, deliberately traps player characters behind each other so you're forced to make use of the game's unnecessary movement feature. So many characters end up stacked between a piece of scenery and another character, seemingly just to make you move around, and it only adds to the overall irritation that is this game. 

The game is simply an annoyance to play. Selecting character actions during a battle is unintuitive, with a horrible multi-tiered, directional selection map that snaps back to the default attack unless you keep the D-pad held down. The menu screens outside of battle are also cluttered and hard to navigate, with pictures in place of menu names that do very little to actually indicate what they are. 

Of course, there will be people who enjoy this game. As I said at the top of the review, some people will accept any grinding, boring RPG if it looks "old school" enough, and Black Sigil is definitely old school at heart. The trouble is that it's now 2009, and old school grinding with very few save points and such a high demand for commitment simply doesn't cut it in this day and age. Black Sigil simply isn't worth the effort it requires, and with so many better RPGs on the DS, there simply is no reason for it to exist. 

RPGs are going to have to do a lot more these days than simply say "Look at how old school I am" in order to impress. This game has not done that. It's not really done anything well at all. 

Score: 3.0 -- Poor (3s went wrong somewhere along the line. The original idea might have promise, but in practice the game has failed. Threatens to be interesting sometimes, but rarely.)



Jim Sterling, Former Reviews Editor
 Follow Blog + disclosure JimSterling Tips
Destructoid reviews editor, responsible for running and maintaining the cutting edge videogame critique that people ignore because all they want to see are the scores at the end. Also a regular f... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
Just got an email from Nintendo saying that my Club Nintendo reward has been shipped and is on its way. Now it's the end of an era. *pours one out for Club Nintendo*
wutangclam avatarwutangclam
I've been thinking of starting up a criticism-minded "game of the month" type podcast. Would anyone be interested in something like that? If you'd wanna be part of it, let me know, I'm generating ideas and looking for contributors
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
Playing the most difficult strategy game ever: trying to figure out what order to beat your backlog in.
ChillyBilly avatarChillyBilly
Transient Ryu stays ripped by riding the rails and throwing other transients off of his rail cars - [IMG]http://i22.photobucket.com/albums/b321/Felth/homeless%20ryu.jpg~original[/IMG]
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
I'm so, so sorry everyone. :(
kolten2 avatarkolten2
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJCiF5dBSpweeStTjOqu-uA/videos
TheAngriestCarp avatarTheAngriestCarp
I'm pretty sure you guys know what game I'll be playing tomorrow. One of THE hottest games of the season. That's right, I'm talking about Lunch Truck Tychoon. Kojima ain't got shit on me, mukkas!
Flegma avatarFlegma
Playing Project Zero 2 on Wii. One should hope PZ5 got more sensible controls - twisting the Wiimote left/right to turn the camera does not make sense.
Barry Kelly avatarBarry Kelly
"When you are not playing the game or choose not to join the defense, your FOB will be defended automatically by your Security Team and security devices." Yeah, I think I'll just avoid the FOB functionality in MGS V
Snaveage avatarSnaveage
PSA: If you're picking up Phantom Pain tomorrow, put the kids down for a nap, turn off your phone and tell your partner to pipe down - the opening hour deserves your undivided attention. Enjoy!
extatix avatarextatix
If you like your hentai VNs [url="https://groupees.com/vn3"]cheap.[/url] Or even [url="https://www.indiegala.com/manga"]cheaper[/url].
VeryImportantQuestion avatarVeryImportantQuestion
Just read that SquareEnix have applied some weird mutation of crowdfunding mechanics to the Deus Ex: Mankind Divided preorder. I know the last blog I wrote mentioned how big publishers try to pervert these systems, but to think it's already this far gone.
Cosmonstropolis avatarCosmonstropolis
First in line to grab MGS V tomorrow. Close to my house, so it looks like I can eat and sleep comfortably. No one else seems to be waiting at my mailbox. Neighbors are getting suspicious.
The Travisionist avatarThe Travisionist
[img]https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CNwHpCTVAAA0jLp.png[/img] Sometimes, life is good as a ghost.
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
You know what, I'm just gonna come out and say it. I hope MGSV fails. It won't train wreck by any means, but I hope it's a huge financial failure. Nothing against Kojima, but #fuckonami
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
MGS V unlocks for me tomorrow at noon.
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
Since my blog using this is basically useless, I still wanted to share it. [img]http://i.imgur.com/a33WM5Q.png[/img] CAN YOU DIG IT!?
Manchild avatarManchild
I don't think you should be able to say #Fuckonami if you are deciding to support their product anyways. I don't often agree with boycotting and am not condoning that, but get your story straight and show a little consistency.
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
When the band began to play the stars were shining bright. Now the milkman's on his way and it's too late to say good night. So, Good Morning! Good Morning!
IDrawOnTape avatarIDrawOnTape
I'm guessing all rock bands in the world must have stopped making music videos this year, since I read fall out boy's "Uma Thurman" won for rock video of the year. I can only assume there were no other nominees.that's the only rational explanation.
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -