iOS games being ported to the Switch is all too common these days. Still, there are a few gems that definitely deserve a place on the platform, and that includes the hack-’n’-slash side-scroller Blackmoor 2: The Traitor King. Finding and playing this game was like stumbling across a treasure chest hidden in a dark cave: surprising, and magnificent.
Set three years after the events of the previous game, in Blackmoor 2, a big bad guy appears and causes a lot of problems by bringing in an army of ne’er do-wells that are brewing up trouble across the kingdom. The plucky band of heroes need to go around each town, castle and other locations in order to clear them out. ‘Nuff said. The plot is void of any excess filler or fat, which works definitely works in its favour.
Blackmoor 2 runs rather well at home on the Switch. Some menu inputs will take a few seconds to register, which is a bit annoying if you’re wanting to hop around quickly, though the framerate will remain stable throughout. It’s got some good 2D visuals and some creative character designs, though the 3D visuals look pretty damn ugly and amateurish in comparison. Vanquished foes will abruptly disappear out of thin air without any sort of death animation of sorts, though this is just a nitpick.
After picking one of the many playable characters on offer, you can go to the hub world. After tackling a few levels, you can choose to follow a few splitting paths that you can fight through in any order. Most of the time, in each mission, all you need to do is to go from point A to point B, albeit with a bit of platforming and a mini-boss encounter before reaching the stage boss. These missions are not usually too daunting and can be beaten in about 10 minutes each. There will be a few levels that’ll notably crank up the difficulty by tossing some formidable foes or deadly bosses your way. Hey, at least you can work together via local or online co-op.
Mind you, Blackmoor 2 does add quite a lot of variety to its missions. There are bosses to battle in arenas, dungeons to traverse through (a bit like an obstacle course, only with more traps and fewer enemies), a few missions where you need to protect civilians or a boat from incoming attackers, and more. One of the most unexpected inclusions was a game of football, where you have to smack the ball into the net while two enemy knights do the same. These are great inclusions since they prevent things from becoming too samey.
Lots of enemies means lots of combat. All characters have a basic attack, while some also have an alternate weapon to switch between. There are ten characters to pick from the get-go, each with different fighting styles. For instance, Gladius is the typical warrior character armed with a sword and shield, and can perform some mighty swings and shield bashes. Meanwhile, Gax the thief favours dual blades and a bow, and is able to fire projectiles as well as clone himself to dish out more damage. Thanks to its simplistic control schemes – with two buttons designated to special attacks – wrecking havoc upon foes is just as uncomplicated as it is entertaining.
Each protagonist progresses through the story and levels up individually, likely for the sake of balance and in order to unlock new abilities and perks at a reasonable rate. Money can be spent on stat upgrades and new gear for each, as well. It seldom feel like a grind thanks to its reasonable prices – excluding some of the character skins – and oodles of cash pick-ups. You can even recruit animal companions to fight alongside you; they’re not particularly useful, and will occasionally dish out a small bit of damage to anyone nearby.
Not every enemy will charge at you head-on, so you’ll need to have quick reactions in order to keep yourself from being their punching bag. Some baddies will hide behind shields, grapple with you, or teleport nearby. There are definitely a few irritating ones to come across, though they tend to go down easily. Boss battles are a bit inconsistent in difficulty, however. The big’uns aren’t too menacing since they can’t dodge at all, and tend to rely on samey attack patterns. The smaller dudes are a lot quicker and can dish out some seriously dangerous special moves. At least they’re more fun to fight against.
If you ever get tired of the main storyline, there’s a map maker for players to create their own levels with. The Dungeon maker mode none too daunting, and there’s enough bits ‘n’ pieces on offer to craft some half-decent missions to be uploaded online. Reaching the exit after defeating all enemies is the sole objective here, so a lot of them can feel a bit samey. Still, it’s a nice feature with enough bells and whistles to let your creativity go wild, and even earn bonus XP and gold. On top of that, there’s even a Street Fighter parody mini-game, which allows you go head-to-head against the AI or other players as one of the many heroes.
Blackmoor 2 is a smorgasbord of fun, and it feels right at home on a Nintendo console. It’s a simple, action-centric side-scroller that offers an engaging experience with a lot of variety. Its sluggish menu loading times and occasionally rubbish boss battles are not easy to ignore, yet they’re outweighed by the numerous clever ideas that the title has on offer.
Review code supplied by developers at Four Fats.