From The Archive is a series that takes articles written by Jennifer McMurray in the past and presents them here on MIC News for a new audience.
The Blackwell Epiphany Review was previously published on The Adventuress on October 28, 2015.
The Blackwell Epiphany is available on GOG.com and Steam.
Wadjet Eye Games ends their Blackwell series on a high note, delivering some of the best puzzles and gameplay of the series along with a great story that ends the saga in a very emotional, but satisfying way.
The game begins as Rosa and Joey are tracking down a lead on a spirit in the area, only to find themselves in a situation for which they are not prepared. A mysterious power is able to completely destroy spirits, which means that when Rosa and Joey investigate, they must both put their own souls in danger in order to try to stop it. The resulting story is the most emotionally charged chapter of the series and is compelling from start to finish. Plot threads are revisited from past games, more is learned about the backstories of the characters, and the Blackwell legacy finally comes to a close. It’s sad to know that these characters won’t be appearing in other games, after getting to know them over the course of five games. However, it’s satisfying to know that they have received a fitting farewell.
The puzzles are some of the best and most memorable of the entire series. There are quite a few areas where you have to switch between Joey and Rosa multiple times in order to solve puzzles. These dual character puzzles have always been the high point of the series, and, as the design of these puzzles in this chapter is done so well, they’re even more enjoyable here.
The artwork always is evolving over the series, and it is at a high point in this episode. It has the same slightly higher resolution of its predecessor, compared to earlier games. This allows for some nice character closeup art. The sprites are still pixelated, as the resolution is still low by modern standards, but the animations are very expressive. The backgrounds are also excellent as well, having a great deal of detail despite the limitations inherent with the resolution chosen for the game.
The voice work is sometimes hit and miss in games by Wadjet Eye Games, but that’s not the case here. The voice actors for Rosa and Joey deliver some of their best work here, really delivering the dramatic lines with such emotion, that it makes the emotional gut punch that some of the story has that much more heart-wrenching. The supporting cast is quite good as well, backing up the leads with aplomb. The music is also well done, fitting well with the darker tone of this chapter’s tale.
Rounding things out are the extras that Wadjet Eye Games are known for. The optional commentary tracks and outtakes return, once again in the form of color-coded letters that can be optionally clicked in the scene that relates to the relevant extra feature in question. It’s always nice to have these included in the game, especially when they are presented in the way they are here. They work with the game flow, but, since they are completely optional, the prompts need not be present if they are not wanted.
The final episode of The Blackwell Epiphany is the series high point. Everything is top notch, from the artwork to the voice work, to the music, and especially the puzzles. Most importantly, the story is fantastic, tying up loose threads, revealing character backstories, and delivering an emotionally charged, but satisfying conclusion to the saga of the Blackwell family and their spirit guide. Their story is now over, but it has been a very rewarding one. The Blackwell series is one that no adventure game fan should go without playing, The Blackwell Epiphany especially.
5 out of 5