The Blackwell Legacy

 
 
 

Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:    Wadjet Eye Games

Released:  December 2006

PC Requirements:   Downloaded game

 

 

 

 

by nickie

 

Scattering her auntís ashes from the Brooklyn Bridge, Rosangela Blackwell reflects that she never really knew her aunt. She visited her aunt weekly for twenty-five years while her aunt lay incapacitated in a mental institution, but there was no communication between them. Still, it was the only family she had and now that small comfort is gone.

Rosangela lives in self-imposed isolation except for her job writing for a small newspaper. She doesnít know her neighbors, and her only friend is her trusted stuffed teddy bear.

An unusual writing assignment leads her into an investigation of a college coedís suicide. Suddenly Rosangela finds herself not only forced to reach out to other people living in her world, but also she must cope with her ability to see and hear the dead. There are souls that need assistance to break away from the earthly plane, and Rosangela is thrust into the role of uncovering the cause of their difficulties and facilitating their departure.

There is a fascinating transition in personality at play, and as the game player you assist in how smoothly this metamorphosis occurs. Utilizing the Adventure Game Studio (AGS) engine, this independently produced game is an interesting study in contrasts. A psychologically intensive plot completed with primitive graphics.

Game play and Mechanics:

You view the game world from a third person perspective, and your movement is via point and click. A left click allows interaction and a right click allows you to obtain further descriptive information. Inventory is readily available above the game play screen.

Visuals and sound:

As I mentioned previously, the graphics are primitive when compared to many games of today, but it is obvious that much care has been taken to render detail and make the game come alive. The expressions of characters in photographs are especially well done and the opening sequence is rich with deeply colored hues, and is lovely. The developer advises that scenes are painstaking depictions of actual locations in New York City.

When a game character speaks, a pop-up appears on the screen with that character in closeup view, making appropriate facial gestures. This is reminiscent of many old-time adventure games, and is serviceable for the most part. There was one occasion at the beginning of the game where this insert flashed on and off so much that I felt like I had wandered into a disco.

Voiceovers range from the very good to the adequate. The main character has a nasal twang that I found annoying, but perhaps this was done to further illustrate her personality traits. The voice of Joey Mallone shines. In fact, the character has such charisma that he upstages the main character. This should carry well to planned sequels Ė the game leaves you wanting to know more about the mysterious gangster and what led him to his present circumstance.

The one thing I disliked about the game was the music, some sort of electronica. At one point, it sounds like someone is beating on tin cans. For a second and third time through the game, I elected to turn the volume off and avail myself of the subtitle feature.

Puzzles:

Youíll be going back and forth between locations and characters to solve puzzles, mainly through dialog choices and interactions with game items. No need to be frustrated over copious inventory items, no mazes, no sliders, no timed sequences.  Movement between locations is accomplished by way of a travel screen, and you teleport between locations instantly by a simple click on the location where you wish to go next. The main character cannot die, and those dead are supposed to be that way. Be sure to read the in-game manual, so you understand that your notes, contained in inventory and from which your dialog choices are available, can be interacted with to provide new dialog.

Odds and Ends:

Besides the standard features of saving and loading (you can save anywhere in the game outside of cut scenes) and volume control and subtitles, there is a feature which you can select that enables you to view the developerís comments during game play through a pop-up window. I would suggest you donít enable this during your first playing of the game, for it brings your game to a jarring halt and gives spoilers. However, it is interesting to listen to on a second play, and budding adventure game developers especially may want to listen to the details of the mechanics that go into making a game, and the pitfalls one should avoid.

It took me around five hours to complete the game. I encountered no glitches or bugs. It is a self-contained game, but sequels with the main characters are planned. It is currently available as a download. The developer promises that it will be offered on CD in the near future.

All in all, I found the game to start rather slowly but become much more enjoyable after a short while. The attention to detail is noteworthy. I thought it an unusually compelling psychological study for an independent game to undertake, and Iíll certainly be looking forward to more from this talented developer.

The Blackwell Legacy is an Independent Production of Wadjet Eye Games, and can be purchased from the developer's website here.

January 2007

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