Sep 17, 2010

The Blackwell Legacy Review

I have been interested in The Blackwell series of indie adventure games by Wadjet Eye Games, for quite some time now, but -as is traditional in this humblest of lairs- hadn't managed to play through any of its games until yesterday, when I finally installed the first chapter: The Blackwell Legacy. Unsurprisingly, I promptly finished and deeply enjoyed it. I also decided not to do a review of the series as a whole, but to take on each game separately. They deeply deserve it. And can easily be played independently of each other.

So, Blackwell Legacy. Well, it's the first game in the series, and the installment that introduces the characters, setting, mood, play-style and backstory of the series, while simultaneously being a brilliant short adventure by itself. The story focuses on slightly-neurotic medium Rosangela Blackwell and the ghostly Joey Mallone, who seem intent on solving the supernatural problems of New York City, in a plot that might not be groundbreaking, but is definitely brilliantly written and paced.

Both playable characters (Rosangels and Joey, that is) and everyone else you'll meet while playing through the game are believable, interesting and properly fleshed out. No stereotypes are to be found in Blackwell's version of NYC. Interestingly and against contemporary fears, the city is not vilified; far from it. This is really close to the Jane Jacobs version of urbanity with a bit of Woody Allen thrown in and it frankly makes for an excellent setting. Oh, and that Woody Allen atmosphere never really goes away, despite Blackwell Legacy not being a particularly humorous adventure. Then again, its rare, cynical jokes do work.

Great writing aside, Blackwell Legacy also sports beautiful pixel-art graphics, excellent voice actors, a lovely soundtrack and some truly impressive production values. I'd actually go as far as saying its on par with most classic-era adventures you'd care to mention and even manages to subtly innovate.

You will, to your shock, never face a single inventory-based puzzle (well, you will face one, but it's not of the standard use banana on car variety), but instead talk and think your way around, mostly by using your notebook via a thought-combining mechanic that reminded me of Discworld Noir. The puzzles themselves are generally original and, though challenging, far from difficult, thus making the game a great yet accessible adventure.

Verdict: The Blackwell Legacy is a brilliant AGS adventure any lover of classic point-and-clickers simply has to play. And then got on to grab the rest of the series.

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  1. Nice review, I am glad you liked it.

  2. I must say I love the way Legacy gradually introduces the characters and develops the themes for the whole series.

    The subplot concerning the presence of insanity in Rosa's family and the problems she has interacting with people create a highly intriguing, tense, atmosphere.

    Overall Legacy is my favorite Blackwell game so far, though Convergence comes very close and is stronger in certain aspects.

  3. @ Jonathon: Thanks and thanks :) Also, I loved it.

    @ Igor: Absolutely agree with you Igor. It's a brilliantly written and paced game, and from what I've seen so far i might just be better than the rest of the series, which to be honest I haven't finished yet; looking forward to.

  4. Thanks for the write-up, Gnome! I'm happy you enjoyed it.

  5. Thanks for a great game!