For a publisher that specialises in a genre supposedly completely dead, Wadjet Eye Games didn’t half have a decent 2011. A few weeks ago for the Reticule I took a look at Gemini Rue, a spectacularly gritty Blade-Runner’esque sci-fi story, let down only by its clunky combat sequences. My hankering for pointing and clicking still not completely satisfied, and in anticipation of the upcoming Steam release of the Blackwell quadrilogy, I thought it time to revisit the genre once again with the latest in Dave Gilbert’s supernatural series.
Blackwell Deception is a continuation of the story of Rosangela Blackwell as she comes to terms with her somewhat bizarre inheritance. Following the abrupt death of her aunt in Blackwell Legacy, Rosa is surprised to acquire a strange new friend in the form of Joey, a rather cynical ghost with a mysterious past. Struggling to come to terms with her new situation, Rosangela is thrust unwillingly headfirst into the realm of the paranormal, as she comes to grips with her new role as medium.
Deception is the fourth in the Blackwell collection, but even a complete newcomer to the series will have little problem in getting to grips with what’s going on. Rosa is alive, Joey is not. Together they find ghosts, learn about their demise, then the two of them help the freshly departed on their way to what is presumably a better place.
Forgoing the usual point and click formula of inventory management and object interaction, the puzzles in the Blackwell series are unusually based on information. As the story progresses, interesting and relevant clues are added to Rosangela’s notes. By combining two clues on her smartphone, new information can be revealed. In essence, it’s nothing different to combining two inventory objects, but it’s a novel take on an age-old idea, involving you in the detective work far more than the usual inventory shuffling.
In salute to the classic Lucasarts style, some puzzles can only be solved by Rosangela, Joey, or a cunning combination of the two. The two characters compliment each other perfectly. Whilst unable to touch anything, Joey’s long existence has given him time to develop his intuitive skills, allowing him to tell much about people from their actions. Rosa on the other hand is socially awkward, often saying the wrong thing, but her skills as a journalist (not to mention the fact that she’s actually alive) allow her to probe into people’s pasts.
Graphically, much like Gemini Rue, the Blackwell series is firmly rooted in the heyday of adventure gaming. The classic graphics and style do nothing to detract from the riveting story, serving as a fine tribute to the Lucasarts era. Deception strikes a fine balance, where the low resolution graphics and traditional UI result in no fruitless pixel-hunting.
Blackwell Deception is certainly challenging. I found my brow frowning somewhat quizzically several times throughout the story, but at no point did I hurl the laptop aside in sheer frustration. For people unfamiliar with adventure games it’s a fine entry to the genre, with puzzles neither too complicated or obscure. But for long-time adventure gamers, this series is absolutely unmissable.
Blackwell Deception, along with the rest of the Blackwell collection is due for Steam release on Friday 13th of January.
Verdict: Head Shot
Platforms Available – PC
Platform Reviewed – PC
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