We’ve recently reviewed Gemini Rue by WadjetEye Games, and it was a great, solid, point and click adventure. WadjetEye Games have just released the first three of their Blackwell series of games in a Humble Bundle and on to the Play store and Amazon store so you’re going to get a whole load of adventuring done this week. The titles released today are Blackwell Legacy, Blackwell Unbound and Blackwell Convergence.
For those of you that don’t know the Blackwell series, they follow the life of Rosa Blackwell as she discovers and comes to terms with her strange family secret. Over these three episodes you start to unravel both her secret and that of her spectral friend Joey. Rosa is called upon to convince a series of ghosts of their own mortality and solve their murders.
We’re reviewing the entire series here as one big chunk of gaming fun due to the episodic nature of the games. There are some changes between the titles, changes to the interface and tweaking in graphics and audio, but on the whole it’s the plot that changes.
It’s clear from Gemini Rue that the guys at WadjetEye Games have a real passion for their products. The Blackwell series shows that this passion is present in all their titles. The plot that extends across all three titles is solid and involving, with little tit-bits of information left around for you to find which add to the sense of involvement.
The playability and interface isn’t as polished as Gemini Rue but this is understandable as Gemini Rue came out some time after these three episodes of the Blackwell series and it’s clear that some lessons were learnt and changes made which made Gemini Rue just that bit more intuitive. One example of this is searching for names. In Gemini Rue you can drag names to various bits of the screen to work with them, in Blackwell you need to remember and type the names in by hand. Not a big issue, and writing things down takes me back to the old days of Monkey Island, but perhaps not ideal for touch based devices.
For the most part the puzzles that form the basis of the game play are hooked very definitely on the difficult peg. You’ll certainly be scratching your head at times (or, perhaps like me, you might be shouting “Oh for *#$£ sake!” a few times). It’s never impossible though and any happy point and click fanatic will be on comfortable ground.
On that note, if you are a fanatic for the genre then you will really enjoy the directors commentary hidden away in the options of each game. It’s great to see Dave Gilbert putting in such effort and love for the games being produced at WadjetEye. The commentaries are full of spoilers so, once you’ve completed each episode, kick back and find out more about the game and how it was made.
One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about playing this triple pack of games is seeing how the titles have evolved. It’s not often you get 3 games dumped on your lap and are able to play through one after the other. The graphics are the most noticeable element which have evolved throughout the series, along with the audio which we’ll get on to below.
It’s certainly fair to say that the graphics of Legacy are pretty simplistic. You can see it’s roots as an indie title and on modern devices the quality and resolution make it, well, small. Yet graphics themselves have never really stood in the way of a good point and click game and you won’t mind the graphics at all if you are a fan of point and click games.
With the second episode, Unbound, the graphics have improved slightly though not massively. The focus on this episode appeared to be increasing the plot and narrative and working on the interface.
By the time the third episode rocks up you see a noticeable improvement in graphics, both in terms of quality and resolution. Environments that you’ve played through in the earlier episodes, such as your apartment, now appear lushly drawn and fill your screen.
Audio has never really been a focal point for point and click adventures. Some adventure games do it very well – look at Detective Grimoire – but for the most part point and click is about plot, involvement and not audio or graphics. After playing all three games it’s clear that the audio work, particularly in Convergence, has clearly received a bit more attention.
In Legacy and Unbound the voice-overs are good, but never decent. Some of the voice-overs in Legacy are frankly wooden. By the time Convergence comes around the audio has been polished and the voice-overs are better, certainly sounding more relaxed and fluid. If you live in the New York tri-state area you’ll also get the opportunity to test your hand at voice-overs for WadjetEye Games as they are currently recruiting.
The ambient sounds also see a gradual improvement as does the music. The music in Convergence is really very nice. It has that Moonlighting, low budget investigator feeling and it fits in really well.
It’s hard to not love Blackwell. You could see Convergence as the main title with Legacy and Unbound as the free games chucked in that remind you of the old days, and that’s fair as Convergence will hold your attention. In reality I think that his an opportunity to see the evolution of a series of great adventure games and the relish the passion and enjoyment that a small developer has put in to their games. Take time to listen through the commentary – after finishing the games of course – and you’ll have a really great experience.