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Review – The Blackwell Deception (PC)

Wadjet Eye Games | October 12th, 2011

So after having the game recommended over at Gnome’s Lair, I went ahead full bore and bought the limited deluxe DVD edition of The Blackwell Deception when it was put out.  I won’t talk too much on the DVD since it’s no longer available.  It includes all four of the games in the series as well as some animated shorts, behind the scenes, and the soundtrack to the game.  It does seem to have a bit of trouble reading, though it may be I simply got a bum copy.  You probably aren’t missing much by missing the DVD other than the chance to get all four games at a discount.

On to the game itself.  The Blackwell Deception is the fourth game in the Blackwell series of Adventure games put out by Wadjet Eye Games.  Doing some research into Wadjet Eye, I found that I owned almost every game they have put out already and didn’t know it.  I’ve gone through and started playing them one by one.  It’s kind of interesting to notice that the games, even the really early ones, all share a very similar overall game engine (so far), though there have been some tweaks done along the way.

The game plays very similarly to The Blackwell Convergence, which is understandable, though it’s notable that I’ve been playing through the second game of the series and the differences in gameplay and set up are quite a bit more striking between the second and fourth games than the third and fourth.  You play as Roseangela Blackwell, who is capable of speaking to Ghosts, who has a ghost pal named Joey who hangs around with her.  Your job is be a failed writer and mope about it, no wait, that’s Rose’s job.  YOUR job is to follow clues and hints to help ghosts who are lost move on to the other side.  Often, this of course involves solving a murder mystery.

One main notable difference from the previous games is the change in how the internet searches work.  It seems to be a bit of a gimmick of the series and it shows up in the early title by the same company called The Shivah.  Basically, often you will receive clues of names or places and must search for them on the internet to get more information or an address.  There is also some occasionally email “hacking” involved though this generally involves figuring out the person’s password by finding it or making a good guess.  To make a long story short, in Convergence, a few times you’d get some information, heat back to your apartment to do a search, go get more info based on those results, then have to come back to the apartment to do ANOTHER search.

In Deception, Roseangela Blackwell has entered the modern world and gotten herself a smart phone.  It is very obviously an iPhone clone.  This allows you to do these searches in the field.  It’s pretty convenient.

Enough on that though.

Like Convergence, Deception features a sort of “how to” case that is unrelated to the plot.  The regular story is quite a bit more complex this time as well, which is nice.  It also makes much more use of the Joey is a Ghost gimmick allowing him to go off and do his own thing, as much as a ghost can, at times.  This aspect of the game was barely present in it’s predecessor which was definitely disappointing.  Essentially, there are times when Rose can’t go into a certain area, but Joey, being a ghost and invisible to most folks, can easily enter rooms normally blocked off or locked to investigate or eavesdrop on others.  He is limited in how far away he can travel from his host however.  It’s a rather clever and useful gimmick that is part of the core of what makes this series of games what it is.

Speaking of it’s predecessors, for the most part, Deception stands alone other than the reappearance of a character that seems to be pretty critical to a larger overarching plot that is building up in these games right near the end.  It does however leave the story wide open to lead into whatever the next, 5th game may be and I find it unlikely that that game will be able to keep the same stand alone quality that the other games have had so far.  That’s yet to be seen, so I’ll withhold judgment there.

Overall, The Blackwell Deception has a good interesting plot and decent gameplay that leaves you wishing that the inevitable sequel was already here because you’ll just want more.  Playing it’s predecessors isn’t a requirement by any means either, other than the singular scene, there isn’t any major references previous games that didn’t seem to work that I noticed, though on a side note, I’ve learned that convergence is actually a huge reference to Unbound.  The gameplay is interesting and there isn’t anything that’s too complicated to puzzle out, which helps to keep the plot moving.

The Blackwell Deception can be purchased via the Wadjet Eye Games Website.

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