Many have heard of Baba Yaga, the witch of Slavic folklore said to live in the woods in a house that sits atop a pair of chicken legs, and who is either Good or Evil. With every story there’s a beginning, right? Well, this is where Blacktail comes in with the telling of the origin the of famed witch. I want to thank THE PARASITE and Focus Entertainment for the reviewing opportunity!
Blacktail tells the story of Yaga, a young woman who’s looking for her sister missing twin sister Zora in the forest where her abilities start to manifest as she begins to learn more about herself and the witch she can become.
Now onto the game itself! The controls for Blacktail are pretty straightforward, especially for FPS players as this is a first-person game and Yaga uses a bow as both a weapon and tool. The game’s sound design is good, especially with the sounds of the forest, I don’t know how much of it is intentional but it seems like you are able to hear everything that’s going on in the forest around you as you can hear a lot of the critters you can interact with since you’re supposed to be a witch of the forest it would seem to be an ability you would have.
Blacktail has a voice cast with talented actors who bring their characters to life, especially when it comes to characters who are humorous. I really loved that I found a break in the fourth wall while interacting with the world by repeatedly clicking on a fish and making Yaga say “Fish” in different ways before clicking and she finally says “What the F-CK Man?!”, that actually got me to laugh.
The game’s art is beautiful, the screenshot I took does not do the game justice as the lighting and shadow work can’t really be seen but trust me, it’s beautiful and gives you the feeling that you’re in a storybook given the bright colors, the cartoonish appearance of enemies, and the story combined with it all just fits together.
Blacktail‘s gameplay is fun with its combat, skill tree, gathering and crafting, and my favorite bit, the morality system. As you journey through the world you will be faced with choices and actions that will determine Yaga’s fate later on. Will you help hedgehogs get fruit? Offer a flower to a beehive or shoot it down? Pray to a dark altar or pass by it? the choices are yours but they will tip the scales of your fate.
Overall I’m really having fun with Blacktail. I’m a fan of folklore and mythology anyway but I like it when a game can actually incorporate bits of the real lore into the game’s story and you get those lightbulb moments when you know what’s going on, but if you’re not like that it’s OK because the game’s story is just a good dark fairytale you’re interacting in. With its open world, beautiful art, choices to be made, combat and survival mechanics, sound and music, and attention to its folklorish roots, I give Blacktail a 9.5/10 as the only issue I’ve had with the game so far was its navigation system which can be easily overlooked.
Blacktail is out now on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.