|Genre||Reapin' ain't easy|
The Blackwell series hasn’t changed a lot over four games released across five years. The screen resolution and accompanying art still seems reminiscent of 1990s adventure games, the point and click gameplay is also rooted in the classics, and the story is still well polished and very entertaining. But none of this at all is a bad thing, it enables indie developer Wadjet Eye Games to release quality games at a manageable pace.
And I have certainly had it well off the last few months having just discovered the Blackwell series. Four games that I almost instantly fell in love with at my fingertips! But now that they’re done, I find myself playing the waiting game like the rest of the fans. Much like when I caught up with the A Song of Ice and Fire book series in 2008 or The Wheel of Time in 2007, waiting really can be the hardest part.
The first thing that stood out to me is that Deception’s graphics and art looked like a step backward from Convergence. No, I’m definitely not a graphics whore, and I know I mentioned in the introduction that the art style really hasn’t changed much, but something was different. The character portraits didn’t move anymore, the backgrounds felt a little less populated, just minor stuff. Well, turns out Dave Gilbert, the mastermind behind the series, actually polled his fans on whether they wanted him to spend more money on better artists and less locations, or more locations and not-as-good art. He went with the latter, and overall it seems like the better choice.
Blackwell Deception is easily the biggest game of the series, with a lot more locations, characters, and scenes. If you compare it to The Blackwell Legacy, Deception is probably four or five times bigger in nearly every aspect. It’s obvious that over the years Wadjet Eye Games has really mastered the Adventure Game Studio platform and all of its intricacies.
And while the series has mostly eliminated most of the try-combining-every-object-together style of gameplay that plagues some point and click games, there are a few troublesome “pixel hunting” moments that boiled me up a bit. I’ve played pixel hunt-heavy adventure games and they’re really not that much fun, and while Deception isn’t that bad, it does commit the sin sometimes.
But the gameplay has steadily improved over the series, and this title gives our heroine a smartphone to do all her research on. Convergence forced you back to Rosa’s apartment whenever you wanted to look someone up or make a phone call, so the smartphone really streamlines things and keeps the pace up. A worthy and realistic addition to the game.
To me, however, the story is paramount in the Blackwell series, and after Convergence tied up the Countess storyline, I was really curious where Deception would take Rosa and Joey. The new plot will feel somewhat familiar, but gives the Blackwell universe an interesting spin on psychics. I am personally pleased there weren’t any radical changes storywise, as I love tagging along with Rosa and Joey as they send ghosts to the beyond. Even so, Deception feels like it has a bit less weight and urgency than the previous games, it’s hard for me to put my finger on, though.
Deception does probably have the best written dialog so far in the series, as I laughed out loud multiple times to Joey’s quips. The voice acting cast is relatively huge for the indie developer, and most of the actors do quite well in their multiple roles. And yes, I finally feel like I’ve settled in with Joey’s voice actor, or he’s settled in with the character. Couldn’t imagine the one without the other at this point. And of course, Rebecca Whittaker, the voice of Rosangela Blackwell, does a stellar job.
Blackwell Deception fits nicely into a series that could have happily ended as a trilogy. Wadjet Eye Games makes continual improvements to gameplay mechanics while never forsaking the story and characters. Rosa and Joey’s future has a lot of life left in it still, and I look forward to keeping up with them, whenever that happens next.
My order for best games in the series: