Black Book Is a Delicious Card-Based Video Game Inspired by Russian Folklore
I’ve been trying to play shorter games recently and one that came to my attention was Black Book, the Russian inspired card-based RPG/action adventure game.
In Black Book, you play a young girl named Vasilisa, who is destined to become a witch. But Vasilia meets a hottie and decides “witchcraft, what about wife-craft” and chooses to try and avoid destiny. Well Destiny is a see you next Tuesday and her beloved dies under “mysterious circumstances.” As a result, Vasilisa ends up becoming a witch and seeks out the Black Book.
The Black Book is a demonic artifact, said to be powerful enough to grant any wish to the one who uncovers all 7 of its seals. With this power, Vasilisa decides to go on a quest to become a stronger witch and reclaim her lost love.
Black Book takes place in 19th century Russia, and the game is heavily inspired by Russian folklore. To ensure the authenticity in its depiction of myths and real-life locations, the game’s developers worked alongside Russian anthropologists, and this shows in the language, design, and vibe of the entire game. It takes a lot of time to make sure you are deeply insulated into the world of witches and demons.
One of the things I really enjoyed about the game was that there is a “sin counter.” The decisions you make in Black Book impact your sin counter and boy howdy, it can go up. At a certain point after being killed by a demon more than three times, I made the decision that I would just let them cause a small famine and recruit them into my demon thrall, rather than just keep trying to fight them. That earned me +5 sin, but honestly, worth it.
Plus, once you really become a witch you get a bunch of demons or “chorts,” who you own and have to send out to torment people, otherwise they torment you. That’s a quick way to rack up a lot of sin.
While sometimes the mechanics in the game can be a bit clunky, I found it easy to maneuver overall, especially because there is only so much to do. In terms of the card-game element they were really fun and I enjoyed figuring out which combinations would be best. The design of everything is simple, but there is a lot of care given to every interaction. Plus there are some truly creepy scenes that push that E for everyone label as far as it can go in a good way.
I deeply enjoyed being able to play around and be tactical with my fighting styles. It is a fun little combination of my two favorite kinds of games and if you are looking for a smaller game to support it is available on Steam, PC PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, this is it.
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