follow us:

Latest News

Tusk returns to Killer Instinct
The barbarian from Killer Instinct 2, Tusk will make his return to the franchise in Killer Instinct Season 3. ... [read more]
New Nintendo Direct shows Star Fox Zero in action
The latest Nintendo Direct had info about some up Nintendo's upcoming games, but let's face it, the start of the show was Star Fox Zero. ... [read more]
Capcom punishes rage quitters and will look for more
On Feb. 26, Capcom's Neidel "Haunts" Crisan revealed that rage quitter's were going to get punished, but he didn't give specifics. In his latest blog, he revealed the fate of those who can't take the loss. ... [read more]

Latest Articles

PAX South 2016: Umbrella Corps Preview
Compared to last year, PAX South 2016 was lacking major developers. This would explain why I was excited to see Capcom in attendance. I don’t play Resident Evil games, but something about the previews I had seen compelled me to stand in line to play Umbrella Corps.... [read more]
Your safe space doesn't belong in my competitive game
Whether it’s trash talking or teabagging, some people are looking for a nicer online experience. Guess what? We’re not in elementary school anymore. This is digital dodgeball and players like me are aiming for your head. ... [read more]
Smite Preview: Hey look at me, I'm playing a MOBA on my console
There's no doubt that the top two MOBA games are DotA 2 and League of Legends, and with the control layout for those games, it's unlikely we'll see those games make the jump to the consoles. However, Smite, the third-person perspective MOBA game and arguably the third most p... [read more]

Latest Reviews

Firewatch Review: Prepare for an interesting sensation
Firewatch is the first game developed by San Francisco-based company, Campo Santo. Needless to say, for this to be their first game it was certainly on fire. ... [read more]
Pony Island Review: Not that innocent of a game
I saw the trailer for Pony Island and thought to myself “Well, this looks like a fun puzzle game at least and it’s a pretty funny title”. I gave it a shot and I wasn’t disappointed.... [read more]
Undertale Review: An 8-bit RPG with a twist
Toby Fox first made himself known to the public with his ROM hack, “Press the B Button, Stupid!” for an Earthbound Halloween Pack back in 2008. With the help of artist Temmie Chang, he created a game that will take you back in time with its 8-bit look, music and turn-bas... [read more]

Latest Videos

PAX South 2016: Lords of New York Interview
If you never thought you wanted a poker RPG, then you haven't played Lords of New York from Lunchtime Studios. ... [read more]
PAX South 2016: Moving Hazard Interview
Moving Hazard is a new take on the zombie action game. The multiplayer shooter makes the zombies the weapon to take out the other team. ... [read more]
PAX South 2016: Eternal Interview
Dire Wolf Digital is jumping into the card game genre with Eternal. Unlike other card games, Eternal lets players make decisions both on offense and defense. ... [read more]
Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled Review
Posted on June 26, 2009 by

Black Sigil is a RPG released by Graffiti for the Nintendo DS on June 9, 2009. The look of the game is very inspired by RPG classics of the past, from Final Fantasy VI to Chrono Trigger. In fact, Black Sigil seems to use this retro appeal as its main selling point.

The game's story is as follows: In a typical RPG fantasy world, most people are born with an innate ability to use magic. However the few that are without this ability are shunned by society due to their role in a great conflict in the recent past known as the Curse Bringers War. A person called Vai, a magicless, rose up with his fellow shunned and tried to bring the world under their rule. They were defeated by Duke Averney and his magic.

Now several years have passed and Kairu, the Duke's adopted son, is training to become a knight. Being a mageless, people throughout the Duke's realm treat him like dirt. Seriously, you'll get annoyed at these people and their prejudices. Anyway, Kairu is tasked to travel to the capital city of Bel Lenora to get supplies before his journey to the Crystal, hoping it will help him to gain magical abilities.

Black Sigil's graphics are very much in the style of Super Nintendo RPG's, right down to characters lacking noses and a somewhat chibified appearance. The stuff of classic RPG's. The spell effects are unimpressive with little animation or flair. This is probably the result of the battle system, which forces different perspectives based on the position of your foes. More on that later.

Also, this game started life as a Gameboy Advance game, and while it takes advantage of the DS touch screen and stylus, the presentation and graphics are firmly rooted in the GBA era.

The combo techs, very reminiscent of Chrono Trigger are meh. It is not wrong for one to expect some visual fireworks from tandem attacks, but this just doesn't happen in Black Sigil. Sure, the attacks do much damage, but they also cost a lot of mana.

The music and sound effects are completely average. I was almost sure that I wasn't hearing what I was hearing, as I usually like at least some of the music in most RPG's. This was not the case in this game. The music is utterly generic and the sound effects worse. Weapons have no punch, and magic has little life to it. The combo techs, as mentioned above, are also lacking.

Gameplay should be this game's greatest strength, due to its strict adherence to the RPG greats of the past, like Chrono Trigger. But it is in this myopic course that the gameplay fails to impress. While Sigil's system is functional through its standard level up and experience system for both physical and magic attacks alike, it somehow manages to be a dull experience.

This is because of Sigil is incorrect to assume what works for one game automatically can work for another. Trigger's excellence was a combination of factors, many of which are missing from this game.

Black Sigil's difficulty is all over the place, mostly due to the retarded enemy placement mechanic. The way this works allows for enemies and the party to be placed in different parts of the battlefield for each encounter. I think that strategy was the supposed goal; the player must think which enemy to kill first, as they tend to target the lowest level characters.

The actual result of this system is more frustration. This is due to the fact that party members can get stuck in certain areas of the field, which prevents them from using physical attacks on enemies. Special attacks (or SP attacks) are the solution, but what if you don't have any SP left? It is a needlessly restrictive system that when combined with the obscene encounter rate, leads to battles that are more like chores than fun. Not a good sign. Also, there are situations where even SP attacks can't be used, so your only solution is to sit there waiting for the ATB of party members who are in range of the enemies. This is piss poor design and very lame.

When the gameplay system is functioning properly, the game is pretty easy, as magic seems to be a one hit kill for many enemies. Combo techs take out more powerful groups and bosses without a hitch. Too bad the flaws stick, because when the game works, it is a good time.

As with most RPG's, replay value is what you make it. You can do solo character runs, which can be more fun that you think. Such runs do not interest me in Black Sigil, but it is an option.

In summation, Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled is an ambitious project that tries to appeal to the old-school RPG fans. It nearly succeeds in this, but it is the quirks that prevent it from being anything but a pretender. The story is slow and uninteresting. Many times when playing, I was reminded of Legend of Dragoon, another ambitious game that had good ideas but ultimately was nothing special. If you have a high tolerance for random battles and must play every traditional JRPG, check Black Sigil out. Just don't expect fireworks.

- Ugly Bob

What's your most anticipated game for March?

Fire Emblem Fates: Revelation
Tom Clancy's The Division
Hitman
EA Sports UFC 2
Senran Kagura: Estival Versus
Samurai Warriors 4 Empires
MLB The Show 16
Pokken Tournament
Killer Instinct Season 3
View Results - View Comments

Podcast


Dat Rocket League


My Video Game History

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow Review

Chrono Cross Review

Other Gaming News From The Web