Blackwell Deception


Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:    Wadjet Eye Games

Released:  October 2011

PC Requirements:  SVGA/XGA (640x480), Windows




by flotsam


This is the fourth in the franchise of Blackwell games, and in my opinion probably the best. It's longer, and I like where the characters are at. Plus there are more ghosts!

Chief among them is Joey, incorporeal companion of Rosa Blackwell, psychic, medium and, according to her new glow-in-the-dark business card, “spiritual consultant”. Several text messages on her new phone give a bit of an insight into the life of such a person, and the ghost on the bridge of the yacht gives a few more. Plus of course there is Joey, hovering just behind.

The opening scene is a good way to settle into events, and functions as a tutorial on how to play. Aboard a yacht that mysteriously unties itself each night and goes cruising on the Hudson river, we learn that while locked doors prevent Rosa from entering, Joey just simply passes through. We also learn that apart from gentle puffs of air, he has absolutely no way of interacting with objects, hence he keeps his hands in his pockets. So if Joey is the eyes of the team, at least as far as checking out places Rosa can’t go, Rosa is the hands. She is also the only one with feet.

While still in the opening scenario, we also learn that keyboard tabbing switches us between controlling Joey and Rosa, that Rosa’s phone functions as a way to manage and cross-reference information picked up as we go, and that it also has an “Oogle” function to search on-line for more detailed information. We also learn about the ghost on the bridge, and what Joey’s necktie is for. Once this scenario is completed, it’s on to the real story.


Which involves fraudulent psychics, and deaths, and confused spirits, and lots of unravelling in the dark corners and buildings of New York City.

A character driven game, which is what Blackwell Deception is, needs good characters, and Rosa and Joey are indeed that. The quintessential odd couple, one somewhat insecure, one dead. We learn a bit more about their pasts, though still not enough about Joey’s, especially the dead bit. It will have paid to have played the other games, but it isn’t essential.

Much of the “puzzling” is situational, and much of that involves Rosa and Joey working together. As mentioned, you can switch back and forth between them - Joey might find the key inside the locked room that opens the door but can’t touch it, so how to get the key to Rosa? If need be, they can converse about “their next move” which may provide a hint for what to do.

A lot of the rest of the puzzling is making the right dialogue and note connections. Notes in your phone will be generated by conversations, "Oogling", or searching your location. Clicking on two of these may reveal linkages that lead to further research or conversation topics. You will do a lot of talking, and can choose to read along or turn off the subtitles. I tend to do the latter if the voice acting is good, which it is here, especially Joey and Rosa. Both are voiced by returning actors which helps the characterisation for those players coming back for more.

Four in hand

If you are a Blackwell newbie, the graphics might surprise you. The game has a retro pixelly look, blocky and lacking in sharp definition. However there is no hunting for single pixels or the need to distinguish one tiny pile from another tiny pile. Hotspots are generous, and at no time did I have to angelically hover the tip of my mouse on the head of a pin.  

By contrast, the static headshots that pop up when a character is speaking are sharp and crisp, and convey a “realism” befitting the acting. The soundscape fills in the rest.

Moving the mouse to the top of the screen causes the inventory bar to slide into view. Here you access your phone, the various items you collect, and the menu. There are also two buttons for switching between Joey and Rosa if tabbing isn’t to your liking. From the menu you can tweak a few settings, including changing the volume separately on voice, sound effects and music - something I always like (and which I fail to see why movie DVDs won’t offer).

Blackwell Deception continues to hone the franchise, and on the strength of this, I suspect Joey’s necktie still has work to do.


I played on:

OS: Windows 7

Processor: AMD Phenom 9500 Quad Core CPU 2.2 GHz

Ram: 4.00GB DDR2 400MHz

Gx card: ATI Radeon HD 3850 512Mb

Blackwell Deception can be purchased by visiting the game’s webpage.

October 2011

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