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Black Book trailer reveals a shadowy world of Slavic myths and card-based combat

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Black Book is a card-based adventure-RPG about a young girl named Vasilisa, who is destined to become a witch. That sounds like a fairly straightforward setup for a tale of excitement and adventure, but Black Book is also set in the rural Russian countryside, and based on Slavic myths and folktales, and so things very quickly get darker than you might expect.

Vasilisa decides to ditch destiny in the name of love, but that plan goes sideways when her beloved dies under strange circumstances. The heroine, not one to give up easily, goes in search of the Black Book, a demonic artifact that legend says will grant a wish to anyone who can uncover all seven of its seals, a process that will involve everything from solving riddles and completing side quests to leading a "demonic flock" that will turn on you at the drop of a hat if you don't keep them in line.

Developer Morteshka said Black Book puts a heavy emphasis on "historical and cultural accuracy": In-game locations are based on real Russian villages and towns of the late 19th century, and the developers worked with "professional ethnographers … to bring authenticity to the depiction of rituals and beliefs of the era."

"With our games, we want to prove that little-known myths and stories from different parts of our world can engage and excite gaming fans all over the world—even today," studio founder Vladimir Beletsky said.

To me it sounds a bit like a spiritual successor to Darklands, which I am 100 percent down with, but what really caught my eye is the striking visual style, which is wonderfully dark, foreboding, and beautiful. The trailer isn't very heavy on gameplay, which is unfortunate, but the Steam page throws off kind of an Inkle vibe, with branching narratives and strategic combat from a fixed perspective, in this case using a "card-collecting, deck-building battle system."

Black Book is expected to be out sometime near the end of 2020. You can find out more at mooseman.ru.

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.