Blackwell Trilogy: review

As the gaming public happily rushes head first into the tedious and eye straining world of fully 3D, isn’t it nice to get nostalgic once in a while for genres you just don’t see enough of these days? One particular genre to suffer as graphics have improved is the 2D point and click variety. Thankfully though, smaller indie developers lacking the big budget of major developers can find a comfortable home in waning genres such as this.

The Blackwell trilogy from Wadjet Eye Gamesis is comprised of three point and click adventures brimming with nostalgic flair of more than one kind. Composed of The Blackwell Legacy, Blackwell Unbound, and The Blackwell Convergence this review covers all three which can, if desired, be purchased separately.

The Blackwell family, for reasons unknown, have been granted two gifts. One is that they are mediums (those who can see and communicate with ghosts) and the other is a spirit guide in the form of Joey Mallone. Those who form the link with Joey must then spend their lives finding spirits trapped in the real world and help them go on to the next life, usually by unravelling some mystery surrounding their death and/or convincing the ghost they are actually dead.

The first game centres on the latest medium of the Blackwell family, Rosangela, discovering her gift after hearing of the death of her aunt in a psychiatric ward. The second game leaps back into the 1970s and has the player actually controlling said aunt for an especially dark adventure that then links into the third game which has you back with Rosangela.

While the basic point and click gameplay remains the same in all three games, as they progress new elements are introduced. The first game is extremely basic from an interactive point of view, while the second game adds moments where you will need to input names or search terms and also grants the ability to play as Mr Mallone. Joey has the super human power of being able to blow a slight breeze, scare animals, float through walls and (more importantly) to eavesdrop on conversations unseen. The third game offers slightly different outcomes to situations depending on how you handle them.

Each game is set within New York and the music is very fitting for the sombre and slightly macabre locations you will explore. Lovers of jazz or piano percussion will especially love the tracks on offer in the second game. The voice work is fairly strong with Joey easily putting in the best showing across all three, and growing the character nicely by the third. Rosangela is voiced by two different people which is a shame, though her voice in the third game no longer sounds like someone talking with two noses, so it balances out.

As already mentioned the plot, pacing and setting of the games are fairly dark. It isn’t so evident initially but doesn’t take long to surface. This may put some people off as, generally speaking, the classic point and click games that people tend to remember have a heavy comical edge (Full Throttle, Monkey Island, etc). Don’t be put off though as Dave Gilbert has done a good job creating a largely serious story that will keep you interested till the end and beyond.

Though all three games are fairly short, it is hard to estimate an exact play length given that different people will take different lengths of time solving each puzzle. There are no puzzles which beggar belief per say and most solutions can be logically reached; so nothing should really keep the player stuck for that long. Come the third game if you really are stumped you can actually ask Joey for advice on what to do, which usually pokes you in the right direction. Even if you get through without being particularly stuck even once the length would still balance out well against the average cost per game.

Once finished there isn’t a huge amount of replay value to be had after you’ve seen the story through. There are unlockable bonuses to find which give you access to blooper recordings, concept art and more – but that is it.

There are no major flaws or nit picks to be had for the Blackwell games, beyond only appealing to what is most likely a niche group of gamers. From a tedious technology point of view it would be nice to be able to change resolution, as on a widescreen monitor the bottom chat option was often half cut off. This wasn’t much of a problem most of the time since the bottom option is usually the one to end the conversation; but every so often it did cause difficulty. There was also one moment where the clicking sound when closing the menu got stuck in a loop and played over everything until a restart fixed it.

The Blackwell bundle of all three games is $19.99 (or around £12.84 in the Queen’s money) and averaging that out across all three makes it a very reasonable price to ask. If you are missing some old school point and click gaming or just want a story with a good premise and execution you wouldn’t go wrong with these Wadjet Eye games.

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Written by Ian D

Misanthropic git. Dislikes: Most things. Likes: Obscure references.

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