BlackForge: A Smithing Adventure Preview: A Chilled Out Creation

BlackForge: A Smithing Adventure kicks off with some wonderfully tactile menus. It’s not normally something to get too excited about, but it feels like a good example of what’s to come. BlackForge is about how you move your hands in real life to an almost absurd degree. After all, you’re a smith, so precision is very important.

BlackForge begins with a big old bearded dude who calls themselves a merchant guiding you through the game’s initial steps. The short version is that your job as a smith is to fulfill requests that he brings you and once you’ve finished them, he’ll bring you more. That’s an intensely reductive short version though, so let’s get into the nitty-gritty as BlackForge loves to do.

To carry out requests, you need to use everything at your disposal. For wooden materials, you must first chop yourself off a length, whittle it down to the right shape, and then forge it all together using your magical lightning-infused hammer. For metallic materials, that means scooping, smelting, hammering, and grindstoning your way through to perfect blades, ladders, and more.

Every step is absurdly precise if you want it to be, but you don’t get punished for the odd wonky cut of wood or messy bit of metal. At least, I didn’t during this preview. Instead, you normally get glowing reviews back from whoever you’ve helped, which are represented by letters coming in that explode into confetti at you. It’s a satisfying feeling, and perhaps most importantly, it’s all at your own pace.

I’m prone to rushing through just about everything but even I found myself wanting to try and really perfect my craft. I accidentally overwhittled a piece of wood that was meant to be a handle, and instead of just shrugging and using it anyway, I fed the piece to the Forge Spirit, who’s an adorable bunny with antlers, and then started again.

There are no prizes for taking better care of things, but it felt good to hold a massive mallet in my hand that actually looked like it was both well-made and could do the job. I get the feeling more materials with different properties to consider will become available later, and while that’s probably a lot once you get there, it all builds up at a wonderful pace.

BlackForge is almost meditative as it is. It’s not the best-looking game I’ve played, but the world has its own sort of serenity. Even though you’re sometimes making weapons to hunt monsters with, you’re just as likely to be fixing a broken staff or a ladder. It’s a nice break from the usual hustle and bustle and sheer violence that virtual reality often houses.

There’s nothing wrong with those action games, of course, but sometimes it’s nice to just sit around and do some woodworking. That’s especially true as someone who doesn’t have the skill or the patience to do this in real life. BlackForge is an enjoyable time and while I think the pace won’t suit everyone, if you’re seeking a more relaxing fantasy game, this could be it.

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