Parents' Guide to

Black Book

By Angelica Guarino, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Deck-building adventure celebrates Slavic folklore.

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A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this game.

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This title doesn't try to be a history lesson, but it does a fantastic job of blending classic deck-building strategy mechanics into a fictional, but overall historically accurate world. It's easy to forget that so many of our present-day stories are pulled from the same traditional roots, and Black Book is a much-needed reminder of where these beloved stories of magic and fantasy come from. This comes to life in-game in small ways, such as the frequent use of traditional Russian words used in conjunction with English dialogue throughout the story. If a player forgets the meaning of the word, they can easily scroll over it to get a definition, no matter how many times it's already shown up. This subtly encourages players to actually remember these words, which many may never pursue learning on their own. Elements like this seamlessly integrate this careful research into a very entertaining story.

Another unique element is the collection of encyclopedia entries and Bailichkas, which are short fables that Vasilisa encounters throughout the story. Vasilisa needs to use the information learned from these pieces of information to directly make choices about what to say in-game. There are clear "right" and "wrong" answers, and the challenge is to apply the information in the book to what's being asked of Vasilisa during in-game events. While the need to attentively read through the encyclopedia isn't burdensome, it's tough to resist the urge to Google unfamiliar terms instead of searching for them in the book. While this isn't a flaw in the gameplay, but simply a preference in play style, it's worth mentioning that players who may lean towards only the deck-building strategy may get the feeling they're spending too much time in the library. Nevertheless, Black Book is rather ambitious for committing to include so much history in the first place, and it would be difficult to argue against its success as one of the most immersive deck-building games ever.

Game Details

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