Blackwind Review: Just a story of a boy and his Battleframe.

James Hawkins. What a fitting name for a young teenager who is traveling across space towards a human mining colony on the planet Medusa-42....

James Hawkins. What a fitting name for a young teenager who is traveling across space towards a human mining colony on the planet Medusa-42.  I guess his father must have been a big Treasure Island fan. On the way James' dad shows of his latest creation, a brand new Battle Frame with build in sentient AI and all kinds of other bells and whistles. While they are bonding their spaceship gets attacked from the approaching planet and dad sees no other option then sticking Jimmy in the suit and dropping it to the planet below.  Will he be able to survive and find his Dad, who shot them down? What happened to the colonists?  It is time to get some answers.

What is it?
Blackwind is developed by Drakkar Dev and published by Blowfish Studios. When I saw the initial images and trailers for the game something about it felt positively familiar. Being a fan of mech and mech suit fiction media I was very interest. Games and movies such as Turrican, mechwarrior, the Guyver, Battletech (macross), zone of Enders and others like it have always held a special place in my geeky heart. And this gave off the same feel. Turns out it had  that but also a good dose of Alien breed and more. 
In Blackwind you take control of a state of the art battleframe (mech suit) and blast and puzzle your way through multiple indoor and outdoor areas all while unlocking the mysteries of the planet, your attackers and who or what is behind it all. Utilizing melee strikes, ranged fire, and powerful special attacks to cut through military hardware and the alien Raknos race you grow young Hawkins from a rookie to a seasoned warrior.


Battleframe plays out mainly from a top down/isometric perspective where you run through multiple areas where you have to fight various enemies, hack computers and solve environmental puzzles in order to progress.  Destruction is pretty much the name of the game. Whether you use your gun (hand blaster, Ironman style), melee combat with laser swords or ground stomps, the more you break, the more you earn. These earnings can come in form of health, upgrade currency or power that is used for your special attacks such as missile barrage. Upgrading the Battle Frame’s skills across three branching paths, general, combat and Special. To do so you have to visit special upgrade stations found across the game world. 

These stations also function as a place to change  the looks/skin of your battleframe and allow you to fast travel as you progress.

Certain powers do not get unlocked until later in the game, so there is the option for some back tracking and enter areas you could not go before to collect a skin or powerup. However the backtracking is often optional and not as much recurring as in a game like Metroid.

One of those upgrades  is a small drown which is perfect to travers small areas such as airducts and hack the security doors from the other side

As a hack n slash shooter you are pit against hordes of enemies and frantic battles that take place in places that vary from narrow corridors to open fields. With easy controls you can quickly adjust between long distance shooting and then use your dash to come in close and cut the enemy down with your energy blades. Weaken the enemy enough and a prompt will inform you that you can perform a powerful and often brutal takedown. Fighting feels fast , visceral and powerful.

Dont mess with  a Hawkins

Even though some of the animations such as running felt a bit wooden the battle controls did a very good job to make fighting the multiple attackers a lot of fun. Even on normal it was challenging enough to have to make smart decisions. When to come up close and when to back off during a fight mattered. Make a mistake and you will get destroyed. The third attack such as missile barrage was more limited in use but could deliver devastating damage. These combat moments did deliver the experiences I was expecting based on the premise of the game. Not disappointed.

But there is a second part to the game that did not work very well for me and at times had me want to walk away from the game all together. That part is the puzzle solving element of the game. I am not saying that the puzzle concept is hard as often it is a matter of pulling a lever here, push a button there. No, what made the game hard to deal with was in part caused by the lack of information shared with you. The camera is in such a weird angle of up so close that you cannot see certain areas of the map and sometimes they would be straight up be blocked by scenery. There were moments where I jumped or shot blindly into a direction, hoping something would explode and I could find my way.

In the indoor portions of the game you can at least find a computer to download a map, but the outdoor areas are lacking this feature. This is not a problem in itself but there are NO indicators at all what you are supposed to be doing and the levels are huge. A compass or map would be more useful there then in the tight corridors. A good hint system, preferably through dialog from the NPC'S) would have helped a lot here even if subtle.

Where the combat felt tight and fun, the platforming/exploring controls feel floaty less responsive which is a shame especially in those places where you have to be precise and time your jumps well. The puzzles make sense at times, but other times there is no clarity on what the game wants from you. At some point I ended up shooting some light up spot that seemingly was a button. I never had seen that kind before and nothing indicated I needed to shoot it. Better (or any) camera control or a hint system would have been a welcome addition and could be done without dumbing down the game. Heck give me at least a quest log. All in all it made the exploration parts of the game more painful they had to be and I would have rather they were replaced with other fight areas.

Lastly the game we played has had a bunch of glitches both small and game breaking. In one such a moment I had passed a certain area and even defeated a boss after which I was tasked to move to the next area. But I could not make the jump. A voice from the AI told me I needed an upgrade. I was certain I had the upgrade, I even got a trophy for using it. But it no longer worked. It turns out that after I died and respawned it had removed itself, but left the other parts of the level cleared. It took me hours to figure this out. Lucky for me I was able to backtrack through the completed facility and pick it back up. But it should have never happened in the first place.

On a bright note the game comes with local coop so you can stomp aliens together. And as a gaming family we always welcome coop games.


Being as Blackwind is a story driven action game it comes with a full voice cast. The actors do a decent job, some lines work better then others. Sometime serious ,sometimes cheesy. 
Even at B-tier acting level it just adds a charm to the game that I can appreciate. 
Cutscenes are accompanied with great 2D artwork that has a cool Anime feel to it with some fun character designs. 
The soundtrack is pretty good with different songs for the different areas but sometimes can get a bit repetitive when you are stuck in a large zone. The SFX are good as well and convey your battleframe movement and attacks well. 
There is a variety of areas to fight from dark base corridors, open deserts, big forests or snowy mountains. 
Animations are standard and at times seem a bit wooden, but the framerate is high and have some cool lighting effects to them.

Overall Blackwind succeeds in conveying the feel of controlling a mech unit on an alien planet and delivers on that promise just fine. 

Final thoughts

Battleframe is a game from a small developer with big ambitions and it ends up succeeding in some parts while failing in others. The combat portions worked well, and were fun and challenging. The presentation is fun and though the story is not unique to anyone who is into sci-fi it is a great tribute too the genre and the length has the right balance. That said the failings in exploring bring the experience down some as they kill the pacing of the game and introduce frustration. Some of the glitches and tech issue can absolutely be fixed with patches and at time of writing I am not sure if there is a day one patch or not. In case of the lack of maps, compass or any form of direction in what to do in cases of some of the puzzles/platforming bits I am less certain. All in all battleframe brings fun combat and feels like Alien Breed but with mech suits. There is a good amount of content spread over 14 areas and you can collect tons of upgrades and battleframe skills. If you can get over the more frustrating exploration bits and pieces he glitches (Which could be patched) you will be in for a fun time IF you can get it for the right price.

Parental note: There are some visceral kills in this game and that includes on humanoids and there are blood splashes as a result of the kills. Language wise things are fine. Based on this I would not recommend this for the younger kids but it is fine for teenagers and above. With the coop added it is also offers the opportunity to enjoy the game together.

Developer: Drakkar Dev
Publisher: BlowFish Studios Release Date: January 20, 2022
Platforms: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC via Steam and GOG and Mac App Store
Review platform: Playstation 5
ESRB: N/A . Geeks opinion [T for Teen]

About the writer: DadGeek (Rob) is the co-founder of GeeksVsGeeks. He is a product of the eighties and never let go of his geek interest and hobbies no matter how often someone told him to stop. His love for gaming and all things geeks has been part of his parenting style and permeates throughout the whole family. A family of Geeks vs Geeks 


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