“Who you gonna call? Someone Else…” – Blackwell Epiphany
Blackwell is a series of point and click adventure games created by Dave Gilbert which began in December of 2006 with The Blackwell Legacy. The final game in the series, Blackwell Epiphany has just been released. It’s a story as old as time, ghost boy meets human girl, human girl is tortured by ghost sightings and people treat her like she’s crazy.
Things begin on a dark street corner in the middle of a snowstorm. Your employer, Detective Durkin, calls you on your cell to tell you that he’s standing you up. Rosangela “Rosa” Blackwell is a writer and has become a medium to a detective who has flung back the curtain invisible. Rosa and Joey each take turns going inside a dilapidated building, as Joey you end up meeting a ghost standing over a ledge that calls herself Mary. Mary refuses to leave the building as she is waiting for someone. Joey uses his necktie and Rosa absorbs Mary and then is taken to a different plane of existence so that Mary can find peace. As you exit the main building a man is shot. You can then communicate with his ghost who is ranting that we are not safe, no one is safe. Directly after that the man’s soul is ripped in half and you are left wondering what the hell just happened.
You aren’t left wondering for long because soon you are transported to the 1930s with a new bestower and her ghost. After breaking a window the ladies enter the tailor shop to find a familiar face. Just as suddenly as it begins you are transported back to the present with Rosa staring at a computer screen trying to find information about the man who was just terminated in such a brutal way. When you confront the good detective on this, he looks quickly to change the subject offering up no vital information. You are expected to drop the case completely and move on. But that’s not the way these two roll.
Eventually you meet up with a female ghost named Kendra who is waiting for her father to come pick her up and take her to his work. Your mission is to get Kendra to the hereafter, and it’s the most depressing part of any point and click we have played. The plot thickens and gets deeper and darker from there.
This game is a graphic homage to the point and clicks of the 1990s, and it shows, much to the chagrin of gamers. The game is 16 bit, but the most infuriating thing about it is the resolution. You must either set it to windowed mode and try to play in a tiny box, or blow it up to a black barred nightmare scenario stretching it to beyond its limits. Other than the resolution problems the game’s graphics are interesting, simplistic but effective. On the other hand, if there is one game series that could use a major HD overhaul, it would be the Blackwell games.
Voice acting is very well done, Rosa’s voice almost reminds us of the woman who voices Daria because of her almost deadpan and dulcet tones. Joey is a straight laced detective brought directly from film noir movies. It’s a great paring and mixes very well with the story’s setting. The soundtrack may be the best part of the game, it perfectly captures the noir essence that the developer’s tied hard to capture, and it is worth it just to sit on a screen and listen for a while.
Controls in Blackwell Epiphany are a little awkward. Left clicking allows you to move around the room and select things to be picked up or actions to be performed. Right clicking allows you to look at objects on walls or bulletin boards. Unlike some point and clicks this game makes you select the object you wish to utilize each time, instead of offering up the object last picked up. The switches between Rosa and Joey offer a refreshing change of pace in the game, but Joey cannot pick anything up only blow it along the floor.
Blackwell Epiphany is not without its flaws but it has enough flair and character to keep players coming back for more. These games would do well with an HD remake, but we can look past their charming – if dated – aesthetic. The story is spellbinding, the soundtrack is simply gorgeous, and the entire game is a love letter to 90s point and click adventure, back when the genre was in its prime. Players would do well however to buy the entire series and play each one as Blackwell Epiphany often makes callbacks that might not be understood otherwise. Everything has a beginning and everything must end and the Blackwell series has a great end.
Blackwell Epiphany is now available on Steam.