Genre: Mystery Fantasy Adventure
Release Date: June 2009
Note: Originally published 1 December 2009
Back with a vengeance is the best way to describe the third (and last?) installment in the Blackwell Chronicles!
It may sound negative to say the quality of the games in this series has not improved with each successive release. In fact the series has been solid since its inception.
Dave Gilbert knows how to create believable characters we can relate to and sympathize with. We genuinely care about Rosangela and Joey, a “ghost whisperer” and her spirit guide. The dialog flows and never gets old. The actors are all experienced, and it shows. The inflection is just right to convey the intended emotion. With several actors voicing more than one character, kudos to them for managing not only to act the part, but to create distinctive voices. The most important aspect of this, however, is Gilbert's natural ability to write dialog that is natural and believable.
This is a standalone adventure but players of the previous titles will be the big winners as it nicely ties the other two, seemingly only tangentially related, stories into a wonderful conclusion that feels well thought out and as though the events were meant to culminate at this point.
The interface is wonderful and pretty much identical to that in the previous games. Once again, players swap between Joey and Rosangela – each has strengths that must be used in order to solve the challenges. The game has full subtitling which can be turned on or off. The interface menu is intuitive and easily accessible at the top of the screen. This same menu makes changing characters a breeze. The “TAB” key can be used to change character, also – another strength of this game is the inclusion of shortcuts just like in the “old days” of gaming when keyboard was the key tool in adventure gaming! Items can be examined with a right-mouse click. Interaction is with the left-mouse button.
Puzzles are definitely on the easy side Experienced gamers won't be leaping for a walkthrough too quickly. The reason why the puzzles are relatively easy is because they make sense and are well-integrated into the game. A game with puzzles that make sense always trumps the “pulling out my hair until I look at a walkthrough only to find I never would have done THAT in a million years” type puzzles that seem to be becoming the standard adventure game fare on newer adventures.
The graphics are a little pixelated, which harks back to the “classic” days of Sierra adventure gaming. The game uses the AGS game engine so this is to be expected. Having said that, this is the only video-related weakness. The characters are well-defined and backgrounds are colorful and easy to recognize.
As a bonus extra, there is the option to turn on commentary mode, resulting in a voice-over by Dave at key points in the game. Just like in previous titles, Dave proffers information about the making of the game and the significance of aspects of the game. Anyone doubting that this series is a labor of love for Dave need only listen to the commentary for a few moments to have any doubts dispersed.
Dave welcomes “questions, comments, or scornful accusations” according to the game's manual. He can be contacted on dave @ wadjeteyegames.com.
This is a great game in its own right. It ties up the loose ends nicely from the two prequels and makes for a very satisfactory conclusion. It has a consistency of strength across the board – any weaknesses are relative. In fact, there are aspects such as the commentary that go beyond the usual call of game development. In a nutshell, this is the best game in the series and one of the best adventure games I've played in years.
The game deserves a solid A.
Windows Vista, XP, 2000, ME, 98
800 MHz Pentium or faster processor
64 MB RAM
DirectX-compatible sound and video cards
DirectX 5.0 or later