Black Bart Review
Outside of Rockstar Games’ Red Dead series, the world of Westerns has seen little love in the world of video games as of late. Parmenion Games’ Black Bart sets out to right this wrong with their title starring the infamous outlaw, but unfortunately the delivery is a bad egg, one that is rotten to the core.
Black Bart Review
Those expecting a title full of rootin’-tootin’ gunplay and action will be sorely disappointed, as Black Bart is a man of peace. This outlaw might be robbing multiple stagecoaches throughout his adventure, he does so in a way that doesn’t involve bloodshed. A puzzle game at heart, players will find ways to trick these stagecoaches into giving away their bounty, all without firing a single shot. These plans are idiotic and given little thought – simply putting branches into bushes or cutting down a tree wouldn’t work in real life, but it apparently does the trick here. There is an attempt to spice things up by throwing rocks or apples at certain objects, but the lack of a solid physics engine means that players will miss the mark on more than one occasion.
To pull off these heists, players must complete a honeydew list of things to do along the way. Players control the titular Black Bart with the A and D keys, awkwardly walking along a 2D plane. On more than one occasion, our character just slid along, with his sprite moving along like some sort of ghostly apparition. When the engine does work, however, expect to see the same handful of frames of animation liven up a muddy-looking sprite. It’s lazy work through and through.
A number of townsfolk can be chatted up, and certain actions require use of the space bar, but this is a simple game, one that is slower paced. Oftentimes, to complete your objective, players must trade for a number of things along the way. Simply asking for flour or a hat makes for a laundry list of chores, and players literally cross things off a list once they get what they want. The poor writing exacerbates things, and makes its 45 minute runtime stretch out to an eternity.
There is some dialog in Black Bart, but most of this title is told through comic book-style panels. It makes little sense – there are a number of flashbacks to his childhood and wartime, and though there is some inkling about his history with Wells Fargo, it is over far too fast.
To move the plot along, there are two minigames players can enjoy. Players must play a dice game in order to get information from saloon vagrants, but the outcome is already decided by the time you sit down. The only way to play is to click a cup until you win four matches, but it is clearly staged, leading to a drawn out session. Later on, players can also sift through dirt to mine for gold, but this involves a lot of repetition and patience.
Black Bart’s attempt to immerse the player fails miserably due to its poor storytelling, muddy graphics, and wonky engine. Its Western world is unique, but the execution leaves something to be desired.