Reviews: The Blackwell Legacy
With the help of your spirit guide, investigate supernatural events and liberate tormented spirits
Developer: Wadjet Eye Games
Publisher: Wadjet Eye Games
Genre: Mystery Fantasy Adventure
Release Date: December 2006
Note: Originally published on 26 June 2007
The Blackwell Legacy is the first of a proposed series of traditional point-and-click adventures from the maker of The Shivah. Anyone familiar with that game will be ecstatic here as Dave Gilbert has taken all the good things from his first major outing and expanded the gameplay to become a highly satisfying short game. Trivia buffs may be interested to know that this game was originally a freeware adventure called Bestowers of Eternity but due to immense popularity, it was expanded into a larger game.
The game involves a woman named Rosangela Blackwell, a skeptical young writer, who meets her "spirit guide," Joey Mallone, following the death of her aunt. She finds she has been given a mission: to investigate supernatural events and help the spirits associated with the events to get to "the other side". This episode involves suicides at a New York university. As Rosangela investigates with the aid of Joey, gradually she comes to accept that she has been given a role but throughout she is challenged by doubts about whether she is up to the job. Characters she meets along the way include a rebellious, pierced pre-med student, a spoiled dog, an old woman of Indian descent, and even a demon (played here by the game's creator, Dave Gilbert).
The game is an AGS game and ran flawlessly for me, even with graphical filters turned on. The artwork is not groundbreaking but it leaves most independently-developed games for dead. I liked the use of portraiture to convey the conversations in closeup. This was achieved in Gabriel Knight 1 in much the same way and will bring back fond memories to those who have played this or other similar games. All actions in the game involve the standard point-and-click interface. There is one innovative aspect to the game which involves combining ideas or concepts in your inventory to create a new idea relating the two seemingly unrelated ideas. This is something I haven't seen in a computer game before (excepting The Shivah) and I enjoyed the puzzles that involved it, finding them unique. Everything is very easy and intuitive -- even those unfamiliar with computer games will have no problem playing this game. The only downside to this game is that it is on the easy side and will be finished all too soon. Or perhaps that is part of the plan of the devilish Mr. Gilbert... No matter what, I know that I would rather play a quality short game than play a longer adventure game that is dull or lacking in quality voice acting or challenges.
The voice acting is exemplary as would be expected with the use of seasoned stage and voice-over actors. It's interesting to see the age and ethnicity of some of the actors: many of the characters are played by actors very different in both these areas. The bloopers further add to the enjoyment of such fine work. Many of the bloopers are mistakes that would not be unexpectedly found in a lower-quality (even commercial!) game, so it's great to see just how seriously Dave takes his games. The music itself is suitably atmospheric but doesn't really strike me as particularly memorable.
To add even more quality to this high-quality indie game, Dave has a full-game commentary, which you ought to enjoy once you've finished the game properly on at least one occasion. Stay tuned at the end of the game for an epilogue which reveals a secret code. This code allows access to the bloopers. I can't recall another game (other than The Shivah) that contains features like this, more akin to DVDs. I thoroughly value this kind of additional "special feature" and I hope other games adopt it.
Dave Gilbert is the writer and coder of The Blackwell Legacy. He is the founder of Wadjet Eye Games. He is assisted by Chris Femo, Tom Scary, Ian Sclaepfer, and Matthew Gardner in much of the artwork, and Peter Gresser, who composed the game's music.
This game is throughly enjoyable and most adventurers, new and old, will savor the experience of meeting these new characters in what promises to be a quality series.
Final Grade: A-/B+
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