Blackstone Chronicles


Developer:   Legend Entertainment, Red Orb

Publisher:   Mindscape

Released:      1998

PC Requirements:   Win95/98, Pentium 166, 8x CD-ROM, 180 MB hard drive space, DirectX 6 compatible, 2MB RAM video card.




by Rick36

I hope no body minds, but I think this is also a forum to discuss the 'turkeys' and 'let-downs' in our favorite genre. With this opening statement in mind I'm sure you know what's to follow, so here we go with perhaps the first negative review of this forum (which I have to say I am getting enormous pleasure from). And remember, don't shoot the messenger!

You play the son (grandson? - I forget which and frankly it makes no difference) of an infamous proprietor of a private sanitarium who has long since shuffled off his mortal coil. You are forced to return to the now closed-down sanitarium to rescue your daughter from the evil spirit of your dead relative. Needless to say your antecedent was a few sandwiches short of a picnic while he was breathing, now expired he is even more insane and for some bizarre and inexplicable reason now wants someone from his lineage to carry on the good work (sic) he started.

The old duffer was keen on 'experimenting' on his unfortunate guests and throughout your sojourn in the old wreck you meet a host of spirits of the hapless miscreants. In fact the game's progress very much relies on you meeting these 'tormented souls'.

I shall say no more about whom you meet and how, as it is integral with the game and story. And I would not want to disappoint, though you'll end up disappointed at this lame offering anyway.

I was bitterly disappointed with this game, it is one of those games that promised so much but did not deliver, by a long shot too!.

The graphics were up to par and the movement reasonably slick, which is just as well as you will spend a lot of 'dead' time moving around just to complete a simple task. Again sound quality is as it should be. The games major problem is gameplay (or lack thereof). You are reduced to sauntering around the old 'homestead' and finding a few objects, solving a few lame problems and puzzles and watching the improbable story unfold before your increasingly skeptical (or disinterested) eyes.

Puzzles are few and far between and are generally made up of finding something to appease a spirit so that they will then impart some dramatic information (ho-hum) which will allow you to proceed, or the rather mundane tasks of getting into a locked room, shutting off a generator .ad infinitum.

My major gripe at this game was the sheer disappointment at letting such a good opportunity slip by. Don't get me wrong it's not a bad game, it had all the ingredients to be a really feisty little number, unfortunately due to lack of imagination and inspiration in the gameplay you are left with a really below par point-an-click adventure.

I rail at the large numbers of missed opportunities in this genre and 'Blackstone Chronicles' is a classic in this regard. I believe that adventure gaming is the finest gaming platform and experience and there are some superb games out there, unfortunately they seem to be overwhelmed by a glut of mediocrity and missed opportunity.

This is a pure point and click adventure and you wont be disappointed at the settings and graphics. My advice would be to buy it (at a very reasonable price!) and give it a spin. Why ? Purely to see where such a game could have gone as opposed to where it ended up.

A few features of interest to take note of are :-

One of the themes of the game is that it lapses in and out of the future and the past (a la 'The Shining') and this raises the interest level a bit (only a bit though, and certainly not enough to compensate for all that was bad with the game).

In places it can be depressingly somber, which is always going to be the problem when you deal with such a morbid subject, the frailty of the human mind and the abuse of those entrusted to care for it. Some of the spirits of the former 'guinea pigs' are terribly woeful and the pathos perhaps a tad overdone. For those of a slightly squeamish disposition there is one segment of the game you may wish to steel your nerves for. No hints here, but let's just say that any anti-vivisectionists out there beware (and there is not a cat or beagle in sight if you catch my drift), even I balked at this particular theme.

There is no quick way to go from location to location, and often times you end up passing through the various locations several times on you various missions and sorties.

The game is desperately linear and there is little that is original, intuitive or intelligent.

All in all, more of a stupendous let down than a bad game, but somehow I think this is even worse.

copyright 2003 GameBoomers

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