Thursday, December 29, 2011

Blackwell Trilogy Remastered

Blackwell Trilogy Remastered
Developer: Wadjet Eye Games
Publisher: Wadjet Eye Games
Adventure - PC
1 player
Blackwell Trilogy Remastered

After loving Gemini Rue, I picked up the Blackwell Trilogy Remastered from the Indie Royale Xmas Bundle.  Like Gemini Rue, it's a point and click adventure game using the same underlying engine.  Nevertheless, the games have very distinct feels to them.  Whereas Gemini has a gritty detective / bleak scifi vibe to it, the Blackwell series has sarcastic humor and dark undertones.  Your primary role is that of a medium, and your partnership with a ghost.  It sounds hokey, but it works without being too far-fetched.  The good thing is, the game plays out like that of a serious investigation game.  It very much feels like what Phoenix Wright or Miles Edgeworth would be like, if it were a traditional PC adventure game, as you have to present "evidence" to get people to talk.  Here's my thoughts on each game of the package.

Blackwell Legacy - Beginning of the saga.  You get a bit of background story of Rosangela Blackwell that sets up the entire series and what it's about.  The scenario is a nice balance of unsettling deaths and light-hearted humor to break up the tension.  Solutions to puzzles can be quite varied too.

Blackwell Unbound - Interesting direction, considering the events of Legacy.  Unbound introduces a new game mechanic - the ability to switch characters, which opened up a couple of new possibilities.  But otherwise, the puzzles were much simpler than Legacy and also more repetitive, so I liked it least as a game.  Whereas Legacy leaves you with a wealth of emotions, Unbound's scenario leaves me feeling unsettled.

Blackwell Convergence - No new game mechanics here, and in fact, they simplify the game by doing away with combining notes/clues.  Still, there are still puzzles to be solved and connections to tie together.  This outing wraps up the package nicely.

I think Phoenix Wright comparison is apt for this series.  Like the Ace Attorney stuff, the Blackwell games  are heavily focused on plot and characters.  It's a great combination and has the same payoffs.  Each game is very interesting in of itself.  But as you play additional games and see how the characters interact in different situations, it's building an overall story.  It's very rewarding to see the progression.

Blackwell games are also short.  Each adventure takes about 4-5 hours to complete.  I personally love that they're so short.  It's probably why I was hooked enough to play them through.  If the length bothers you, the best way to think about each Blackwell entry is that they're equivalent to a Phoenix Wright case.  It's also priced appropriately.  Full price for the Trilogy is $20.  Not too shabby for 15 hours worth of games.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed playing Blackwell.  While Gemini Rue was really neat for its atmosphere and unpredictable story, Blackwell was more enjoyable as a game.  I always love putting pieces of a puzzle together, and the way you combine clues, present evidence, and convince characters to tell you the truth is what makes adventure gaming for me.  Combine that with a strong emphasis on character establishment and story continuity and you've got yourself a winner. I love Blackwell for the same reasons I love Phoenix Wright.  And despite the medium / ghost stuff in Blackwell, it never gets in the way like the mysticism does in Phoenix Wright.  Things don't just magically resolve themselves.  You're involved every step of the way.  In case you can't tell, I really had a blast.