Blacken Slash is a Rogue-like turn-based strategy game set in a retro computer environment. The levels are randomly generated, starting off very simple and quickly ramping up to lots-of-luck needed to get out alive. Some levels there is an exit to get to, some are “survive for X number of turns”, while others require clearing all enemies. There are potential rewards, both in the level as picked up objects and/or completing the level. Sometimes there is no reward at all, other than having made it to the next level. The Rogue-like aspects of the game are periodic reward choices and the random level generation. There is also a starting choice that can affect rewards or perhaps give the player some starting ability.
There are not many settings or options for Blacken Slash. The music is the first setting that must immediately be turned down, it is set to maximum by default with the sound effects turned down to 50%. There is an option for selecting a language and a few passive options, like skipping confirmation buttons or level clearing animations. There is a built-in tutorial starting the first game, however it isn’t terribly effective in understanding the mechanics. Clicking on an enemy will give a breakdown of its stats and capabilities. Until the player has played a few runs, the mechanics are likely to be confusing.
The player is a prismatic looking tetrahedron with three ‘cycles’ per turn (starting). The player’s health is carried over between levels, occasionally it will be possible to regenerate some health through an option selection. Each movement uses a cycle, as does a normal attack. However, some abilities that are acquired may use several cycles. In fact, it is possible to gain abilities that aren’t possible to use early on because more than three cycles are required. The abilities come in the form of scripts and circuits. Scripts are activatable skills, while circuits are passive. There are slots for 3 scripts and 6 circuits, which start out as empty. It’s entirely random what will be gained during a play though, and sometimes the reward will be worse that what the player already has, so those can be scrapped for credits, the in-game currency.
Blacken Slash is a pretty cutthroat experience. Sometimes the player will early on pick up very useful scripts that will make some levels easy to get through, other times the lack of useful scripts combined with an overwhelming random level will create a quick demise. There does appear to be some progression that can carry over between games in the form of an ‘archive’, there are keys that reference the archive; however, it seems to be a rarity to get anything into the archive. It isn’t clear if there is an end-game or if the levels progress infinitely. It’s unlikely that an average run will last more than 10 or so levels in any case. Blacken Slash is a competently designed turn-based strategy game with Rogue-like game play; for the price it is worth a play through, but it may be a tad too frustrating to hold the average player’s interest for long.