|Genre||Point and reap adventure|
Having just finished The Blackwell Legacy a few days ago, I decided to waste no time in jumping into its sequel, Blackwell Unbound. These aren’t long games by any stretch of the imagination, clocking in at just a few hours each, but they don’t waste any time spinning their wheels or forcing you through gameplay hoops that aren’t essential to the plot.
Developed by Wadjet Eye Games, Blackwell Unbound was released in 2007, less than a year after Legacy. The game tells the story of Rosa’s aunt, Lauren Blackwell, the previous medium in the family and former detective of all ghostly things.
Unbound was originally intended to just be a short flashback sequence in what is now the third game, Blackwell Convergence, but was fleshed out into a standalone title as development progresses. Let’s see if the game manages to stand on its own in the adventure gaming genre.
Playing a sequel to a game right after the original was released gives you a special chance to really see what has changed between releases. The Blackwell Legacy had issues, including the limited number of areas to explore and the constant exhaustion of trying everything everywhere. I was incredibly pleased to see that Blackwell Unbound basically fixes everything wrong with Legacy, and then goes even further to make a great game better.
The game lengths are similar, but there is so much more content in Unbound. The biggest contributor to this is that Unbound isn’t saddled with the necessary backstory that Legacy is; you don’t even meet Joey in Legacy until about an hour into the game, where Unbound kicks off with our new heroine Lauren already teamed up with the ghost from the start. It feels natural though, and even though we never met Lauren in Legacy, she was still a character with background built up, slipping into her role was very smooth.
Another nice aspect of the game is that there are two simultaneous mysteries to solve, so if you get stuck on one, you can try the other one at any time without repercussions. I haven’t seen this a lot in adventure games I’ve played before besides the old Monkey Island map-ship-crew segments, but it is very effective in a short title like this.
And while the graphics haven’t changed a lot, the music is certainly a stand out. There’s a beautiful jazz theme weaved into the story that hits a high note as the credits roll, there’s no way you’re closing the game before they’ve run their course. The voice cast is also larger and improved, and even Joey’s seemingly mismatched actor didn’t bother me as much.
Since Unbound is serving as a prequel to at least Legacy, the question is how does this game fit in with the first one? Besides Rosa’s aunt being the star and some short interactions with Rosa’s father, Unbound seems like more of a setup for the next title, Convergence. It may have been nice to bookend the game with short Rosa sequences to highlight what exactly we should be keeping an eye on and why this game was originally going to be a flashback sequence in the first place. The introduction of The Countess character seems important, but maybe not?
So Blackwell Unbound’s final meaning is still to be determined, it’s a darned great point and click adventure and an excellent prequel to The Blackwell Legacy. If you played that, you would be doing yourself a huge disservice not to play on.