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!
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
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).
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