When Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled was announced, noone was really sure what to expect – the developers were fairly unknown (and actually a recently started company), and the game didn't seem to feature anything in particular that made it stand out from the rest of the RPG titles for the Nintendo DS.
However, after it was released, gamers quickly realized that this was a small gem waiting to be discovered by the gaming community – a game packed full of innovative ideas for the RPG genre, and a captivating storyline to go with it all.
The game can be played by either using the NDS's touchscreen functionality, or playing with the physical buttons entirely – you can also choose a combination of both. It's played from a top-down perspective, characteristic for most RPGs on the NDS, and features the traditional elements of exploration, NPC interaction, collecting items and upgrading your character. The combat is performed in a turn-based format, however you'll find it to be much more interesting and varied than what most other RPGs offer you – it has a stronger element of thinking to it, and your actions should be really carefully weighed.
There's a large world with various locations for you to visit, and apart from moving around on foot you can also use the different kinds of vehicles you'll find at certain points. There are plenty of characters for you to talk to, and the dialog is very well-written and accompanies the already captivating story nicely. You can also build a party of several other characters, and they have all been designed almost perfectly in terms of balance and gameplay, as they each offer something different to your party.
Graphics and System Requirements
BS:BOTE looks very cute, featuring the classic pixel art graphics for NDS RPG titles. The characters, despite the small resolution, are very easy to identify and each has been drawn in an entirely unique way, featuring different character traits. The environments are varied and well-drawn, with some small exceptions on some of the snow textures (which seemed rather poorly-detailed compared to the quality of the rest of the assets).
The game utilizes the NDS's screen space very well, with the bottom screen being used for the actual gameplay interaction, and the top showing various pieces of useful information related to your current status. You should keep an eye out on that top section, as it sometimes provides important details that you need to adhere to in order to progress.
The game sadly has a few bugs which can prove to be highly irritating – some of them can even cause your savegames to become corrupted, but those need some very specific circumstances in order to occur and are generally considered safe.
BS:BOTE is an overall enjoyable experience, with some minor notes on the level of polish and the programming aspects – it should've been slightly more extensively tested.