Black Book is an RPG game with adventure and card game elements. The game is based on Russian folk tales. It was developed by independent studio Morteshka (authors of the successful narrative adventure game The Mooseman from 2017). The publisher is HypeTrain Digital.
The main character of the game is Vasilisa - a young girl, whose destiny was to become a witch, but she preferred to follow her heart and get involved with a man. Unfortunately, her fiancé dies one day in very mysterious circumstances. The woman decides to find the Black Book, a powerful demonic artefact, which, according to legend, can grant any wish - provided that the bearer finds the seven seals.
Black Book is set in an alternative, fantastic version of 19th century Russia - in the city of Perm, north of the city of Chedrin (the location designs are based on maps of that historical period from the Perm Historical Museum).
Black Book combines three genres: adventuregame , RPG and card game (we are talking mainly about creating your own deck). The action is usually observed from behind the third person perspective (TPP), although the perspective sometimes changes. The game is about exploring locations, completing side quests (they are based on various folk tales - their summary can be found in the encyclopedia inside the game), solving puzzles and gradually discovering the main plotline. During breaks we can play a minigame called Durak.
From time to time we are forced to fight, and the combat system is turn-based (the mechanics slightly resembles solutions known from classic jRPGs). The player casts curses and summons evil spirits to help, while the selection of available magic abilities depends on what cards we managed to get during the journey. It's worth noting that the game uses an interesting mechanic - demons summoned by the main character are a powerful asset in battle, but at the same time they can turn against her if they have nothing else to do. It is necessary to make decisions carefully - before we summon a beast we should know that we will actually need it on the battlefield. Healing herbs can be used both in and out of battle.
Black Book has four different difficulty levels. The lowest one is Apprentice, designed for those who want to immerse themselves in the game world without worrying about too difficult battles. The next level is Znatka - a normal difficulty level, suitable for first-time players. Koldunya is recommended for people who already have experience in card games. Enemies inflict slightly more damage here, they also have more life points, but we gain more money. The last difficulty level is Nightmare, which is dominated by evil powers. Enemies here inflict half as much damage and have 50% more HP, while we gain 20% more money. In Durak (a card game), devils have the ability to cheat and gain extra time. There is also a 10% chance that positive statuses will remain on your opponents after their time has expired.
Companions also appear in the game. Each of them is associated with its own unique quest and a series of dialogues, which can be carried out in our house acting as a hub. To make a companion accept the function of a guest and offer us to carry out our mission, we must first talk to him a certain number of times. It is up to us to decide whether we will accept the offer or refuse it. If we refuse twice to complete the quest, our companion will complete it himself, stay with us or leave - it all depends on his temperament. Since the quests can be played independently of our progress in the main storyline, the developers created for them "logical battles", which are very different from the battles carried out in the standard game.
The game has four possible endings: Good, Average, Conditionally Bad and The Worst. Which ending you get depends on the number of sins committed throughout the game.
In Black Book we can play only solo. The main game mode is the story campaign.
The storyline and atmosphere was inspired by Slavic folklore, and more specifically by so called bailichkas - stories about claimed encounters with ghosts. Konstantin Shumov, an ethnographer and expert on the subject, acted as a consultant.
The developers have introduced the possibility to play Durak directly from the main menu after completing Black Book. During this card game, it's worth remembering that enemies will sometimes trick us by turning their normal cards into perks.
Black Book presents quite interesting, 3D graphic design. In terms of style, the game resembles an animated film - we're dealing here with a certain simplification in the look of the characters or locations (the developers didn't try for realism), but thanks to this stylization the game certainly doesn't lack atmosphere. It is also built thanks to the use of colours - they are rather cool, not too bright, and they harmonise well with the gloomy atmosphere.
Game mode: single player
Expectations: 4 / 10 based on 10 votes.
Age restrictions Black Book: Good for all ages.
Black Book System requirements
PC / Windows
- Intel Core i3 3.0 GHz
- 4 GB RAM
- graphic card 2 GB GeForce GTX 760 / 3 GB Radeon R9 280X or better
- 5 GB HDD
- Windows 7/8/10