Is the acclaim around the point-and-click Blackwell deserved?

Here’s how my husband sold it to me: “Hey, I’ve got this geek chick with a ghost game I’m sure you’re going to love. Think old noir point-and-click.”

And he was right. I now wanted to know more. I like a good video game sometimes – not much into action adventure, sports or shooting games, but I will gladly try a point-and-click, a strategy game or an RPG.

This is how I came to try the Blackwell series, which is one of the highest rated of the genre on Steam. It’s nothing new, but the overwhelmingly positive reviews warranted a look. And I can honestly say I’ve been enjoying playing the series over the last few weeks. Here are my individual reviews and at the end you will find my general opinion on how this game rate in the general point-and-click world.

The Blackwell Legacy 1

This is a short point and click game with an easy set of puzzles. Most of them involve asking the right question to the right person and combining the right elements in your notebook. It has a classic feel. Detective stories always work well in point and click and the supernatural element is fun. The main character, Rose Angella is an odd geeky loner, but her personality fits very well with her history. While it doesn’t make her the most compelling person to follow, it creates cute situations like the one where she doesn’t want to talk to her neighbour because there’s too many people around. An intriguing introduction, though I do which it had been longer.

Blackwell Unbound 2

Going into Unbound we have the satisfaction of finding the exact same specific gameplay as the first Blackwell. But this was not the story I expected. This second instalment is a flashback in time. We are the aunt of Rosa, and I thought we would discover the real reason behind why she went crazy in the first Blackwell. But no, this is the beginning of a whole new mystery. Maybe because of the disillusioned tone of the aunt, this was my least favourite Blackwell. Also the ending felt incomplete and unsatisfactory and I had to check if there was no alternative that I might have missed.

The Blackwell Convergence 3

This instalment is full of references to the 2 previous ones and gives a lot of very compelling answers for a deeper plot. I feel that the ability to alternate between playing Joey (the ghost) and Rosa, is best used in this Blackwell and complexifies the puzzles nicely without being very difficult either. If we are stuck it’s nice to be able to have discrete clues when talking to Joey. I like the wide range of cast in that series, with people with different experiences and wildly different personalities. This is also the biggest character growth for Rosa, which I really enjoyed.

The Blackwell Deception 4

There is a feel of nostalgia hovering over this Blackwell. While Rosa is more assertive and confident, we also come across missed opportunities and discarded paths. This point and click stands apart from the other 3 by starting on a new overall mystery and sets Rosa in a world where there might be other true mediums. Only one thing nagged at me, I kept hoping the opening sequence would be wound back into the plot… but it never was and that just felt a little strange. But once again the ability to change between Joey with his ghostly powers and Rosa who can interact with the environment was very well done.

The Blackwell Epiphany 5

This game is the epilogue of the whole Blackwell series. It answers many loose ends and closes the plot that has been running through all of them. This is the longest chapter and is very satisfying to play. The enigmas have evolved into more complex multi action ones and for the first time I got stuck a few times. It is a definitely more mature instalment. In fact, the darker undertones of the series really come out in Epiphany touching on very serious matters of domestic violence, prostitution and more. The switching between Joey’s ghostly abilities and Rosa’s is once again very well done, but this time there was no inferring and resolving enigmas by associating notes on our phone. I thought it was a shame as this had become, to me, one of the signatures of the Blackwell gameplay. Still finishing this series leaves me very sad, the ending makes a lot of sense but is not the one I had hoped for. I’m sure a good number of fans will have conflicting feelings about it too, but this is overall a very solid point and click adventure I recommend to people who enjoy easy to medium difficulty enigmas, a noir setting with a touch of supernatural.

Overall it is a nice series to do. Easier and much more streigh forwards than many I have done before. I love urban fantasy settings such as these so it talks to me. Some of the plot wasn’t as in depth as I would have liked, or as fullfilling, and sometimes the tone seemed strangely dark – not quite in line with the rest of the work, but it was very interesting overall. I might have liked a little more psychology as it was trying to be mature, but it felt like one I could introduce to none gamers quite easily, even if it doesn’t have the modern beauty of many new games.

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