The Blackwell Legacy
Review by Old Rooster
"Mom's Been Acting Odd Lately"
One of the unexpected highlights of my spring gaming has been an
introduction to the outstanding work of Dave Gilbert, the multi-talented
head of Wadjet Eye Games. At a time when questions are being raised
about the relative value of next-generation graphicsthe old
"style vs. substance" controversyGilbert's contributions
are timely and bring a breath of fresh air. Let's chat a bit about
his major work to this point, The Blackwell Legacy, the first
in a possible series of detective-adventure games.
Meet Rosangela Blackwell, a nerdy loner who is self-absorbed, troubled,
not well-known to even her immediate apartment complex neighbors,
a young woman without a sense of direction, socially uncomfortable
and awkward. As her doorman comments: "You really don't get
out much, do you?" Her neighbor sympathizes that "the
city can be a lonely place." She is an anti-heroine who reluctantly,
even painfully, finds she has a unique "talent" for detecting,
leading her to become the center of our story (and ones to follow!).
Miss Marple and Jessica Fletcher, move over. There's a new sleuth
As is revealed early in the story (and on the website), the Blackwells
have a most peculiar family legacythe ability to see and converse
with a flip, film-noir type ghost named Joey. Giving in to his presence
leads to often humorous, sometimes tense conversations and even
unique assignments and detecting challenges. Not giving in to Joey's
badgering causes headaches and a risk of hereditary dementia. Our
Rosa succumbs to Joey's entreaties, leading us on a highly entertaining
and quite unique journey investigating several area college deaths.
"Do I Love You? Do I Miss You?" Rosa
The Blackwell Legacy, an adventure game if you haven't already
guessed, is played from a third-person perspective, point-and-click,
complete mouse control style. The game engine defaults to a 640×480
resolution, leading initially to a rather shocking blockiness and
pixelation. However, the backgrounds are colorful and as detailed
as they can be given the resolution. One soon becomes accustomed
to the early 90s graphics and concentrates, instead, on the story.
Rosa keeps a notebook, accessible from the top of the screen, where
highlights of conversations are kept. Indeed, this notebook becomes
the primary puzzle-solving tool, with earlier conversations sometimes
needing to be revisited given new information you've acquired. There
are several object-type puzzles, uncomplicated and logical, readily
completed. For the most part, you won't be scouring rooms for things
to collect. Saving anywhere is allowed, except during conversations
You direct Rosa, mostly through conversations with some very interesting
charactersparamount among them being her sidekick Joey Malone.
When these occur, popups of Rosa and her interviewee bring the cast
to life in a surprising fashion given the limitations of the game
engine. There are a number of locations Rosa must visit, most more
than once, and this can be done in an instant "teleporting"
fashion. Within conversations, there often appear to be response
choices that differranging from accepting to argumentative.
However, given the essential linearity of the story and steps that
must be accomplished before being able to move on, I found that
I really ended up in the same place regardless.
Clearly, the narrative is the key to this game. In that regard,
the excellent script is accompanied by some equally fine voice acting,
particularly from the cast voicing Rosa and Joey. Rosa ranges from
timid and frightened to strong and assertive. Joey is sarcastic,
annoying, sexist. Underlying both of them is a puzzlement as to
why they've been picked to be in this situation.
Background music is satisfactory. A director's commentary, in the
style of a DVD movie, is available, although it's suggested one
not turn this on during the first playthrough. It took me about
six hours to complete the game, not including note-taking for the
review. However, with the commentary and fine script, The Blackwell
Legacy is a good candidate for replay.
"You're a Ghost. Fine. I'm a Medium. Fine." Rosa
The Blackwell Legacy is an outstandingly written and acted
adventure game, only held back by limitations of the fairly primitive
game engine and, perhaps, some design decisions. It readily gets
a "Thumb Up" from this reviewer. As one who particularly
enjoys story and narrative, I found The Blackwell Legacy to
be compelling, involving, memorable. Next-generation graphics were
of little concern to me. There are, though, some adventure game
players who especially enjoy puzzles, even of the obscure variety.
For them, this game may not be as entertaining, given the emphasis
on language versus objects.
Mr. Gilbert is a writer and developer to be reckoned with. I was
delighted that, on June 1, he announced Blackwell Unbound, a
sequel to The Blackwell Legacy, to be released in August.
Although it doesn't feature Rosa, it does go to an earlier time
period, taking us back to her aunt Lauren and, of course, Joey.
We'll be sure to take a look.
The Blackwell Legacy can be purchased directly from the
website, either as a 178 MB download or, for a bit higher cost,
a CD to be mailed.
What I Like Most About the Game
- A strong and interesting story;
- Outstanding writing, pacing, overall narrative;
- Excellent voice acting;
- Version 1.2 runs glitch-free.
- A dated, quite pixelated graphic engine;
- Not much in the way of object puzzles.
Release Date: December 2006
Four Fat Chicks Links
Where to Find It
Eye Games $14.99
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