Blacktail review for PC, PS5, Xbox Series X

Platform: PC
Also on: PS5, Xbox Series X
Publisher: Focus Entertainment
Developer: The Parasight
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

It?s not hard to see where Blacktail gets its influences from. There?s Tomb Raider, of course, with the bow & arrow combat and the protagonist with an English accent. There?s a bit of Skyrim (or many, many other RPGs, obviously), with the crafting. And, most importantly, there?s Slavic folklore, and the story of Baba Yaga.

While the Tomb Raider and Skyrim/RPG influences are generally well-executed (and more on those in a second), it?s the Baba Yaga aspect that makes Blacktail so interesting. For one thing, it gives the game its narrative backbone, as you follow the journey of a teenage girl named Yaga coming into her powers. It also gives the game a reason to lean into a fairy tale origins, and you get a world full of magic and ghosts and sentient mushrooms.

More than that, though, it plays an important role in the gameplay: there?s a morality system at play here, with your actions determining whether you embrace the good or the bad of the Baba Yaga myth. It means you have choices, whether they come in the form of helping an ant queen start her way against humanity, or whether you?ll kill innocent animals. Given that there?s still debate over whether she represents good or evil, it?s fitting that the game found a way to incorporate that duality into Blacktail itself.

Mind you, even if Blacktail didn?t have that mythology underpinning its story, it would still be a pretty solid game. The first-person combat is mostly pretty enjoyable, with your trusty bow and arrow and your magic being enough to take on the enemies scattered throughout the forest. While it?s not anything we haven?t seen before, it?s nonetheless pretty fun to take down waves of rampaging enemies with a wave of your hand, or to cause fiery flying insects to well up and explode.

But having the Baba Yaga myth wrapping it all together ensures that Blacktail takes that well-worn gameplay and gives it a unique spin. It may have flown mostly under the radar so far, but it?s enjoyable enough that it deserves a much wider audience.

Focus Entertainment provided us with a Blacktail PC code for review purposes.

Grade: A-