Saturday, June 27, 2015

Life Is Strange Episode 3 Review

The third episode of Life Is Strange, Chaos Theory, lives up to its name with a chapter that really shakes the formula up.

The school is reeling from the events of the end of the last chapter. Max and Chloe are determined to get to the bottom of the corruption in the town, so they decide to conduct their own investigation. This leads to some revelations, some character building moments, and then chaos comes into play, spinning their entire world on its head.

There are some fetch quests and inventory puzzles here, which is to be expected in an investigation. Naturally, Max's powers to rewind time also come in play, allowing Max and Chloe to to be more devious in their investigations than they would without them.  The rewind power is also actually used as a puzzle itself in this chapter, where Max must use stealth and her powers in order to avoid being caught.  It's a fantastic twist on the usual mechanic of this game, and it is implemented quite well.

The story is simply fantastic in this chapter, and the awkward slang has been successfully lamp shaded.  It's attributed as a quirk of one of the more outlandish characters, and, in that light, strangely, in retrospect (awkward as it still is) it sort of works.  The voice acting continues be top notch, working well in tandem with the fantastic script, and the understated music once again complements the voice acting.  The new locations are all interesting, as are the new characters.

This ended up being a short review, but don't take that as a sign of a lack of quality.  It's actually far from it, as the review is brief as to spoil as little about the episode as possible.  This episode simply needs to be played, as everything about it, from the story, to the voice acting and music, and to the characters and locations are excellent.  The game's finale is the crowning achievement of the episode, and of the series so far.  It's worth playing just for that portion of the game alone.

Final verdict:
 
5 out of 5

Friday, June 26, 2015

Game Jam For Gay Marriage

The Adventuress celebrates gay marriage with a game jam in celebration of the historic United States Supreme Court decision that the constitution protects the rights of everyone to the legal right to marriage, regardless of sexual orientation.

The Jam runs from the day of the decision, June 26th 2015, until the United States Independence Day, July 4th, 2015.

Life Is Strange Episode 2 Review

The second episode of Life Is Strange, Out of Time, finds Max discovering the limitations of her powers, making the choices she makes in this episode matter much more than ever.

The episode begins where the last left off, with Max finding a confidant in Chloe.  The two decide to test Max's powers, at which point Max discovers that her powers have more limitations than she had previously thought.  To save more lives of the people she cares about, Max must push her powers past their boundaries.  In doing so, however, she'll have to use her own natural powers of persuasion, as she finds that she can't always rely on her new-found abilities.

The limitations present a different feel in this chapter than before, as, while most of the decision making is leisurely, once her powers reach their limits, Max will have to make decisions on the spur of the moment without the ability to rewind.  Luckily, the decisions aren't quite as spur of the moment as those in Telltale's games, as there isn't a timer forcing Max to think quickly.  The decisions can still be made at a slower pace, however, once they're made, they're set in stone.  This adds a much more emotional impact to those decisions that can't be changed, as they seem much more real now that the ability to change them on the fly isn't present.  There are also puzzles in this game, although some are a bit tedious, as they revolve around recovering a specific number of items.

The dialog still has some awkward moments of slang usage, but, like the first chapter, the rest of the story is excellent.  The voice acting continues to be supurb as well, with the actors getting a chance to really show a range of emotions here.  The music, once again, is subtle, but helps to set the tone of the game excellently.  There are quite a few new locations in this chapter as well, and they are all interesting, and fit within the art style of the rest of the game.  The new characters we meet in these new locations are equally as interesting, and are all voiced as well as the returning characters.  There are invisible barriers in this chapter, but they are handled much more realistically than simply restricting the character's movements.  They're reminiscent of those in the L.A. Noire crime scenes, as the player character in both games will comment that they don't want to leave that area, for reasons that fit in both games.  It's a simple solution to the invisible barrier problem, but it works well.

The second episode of Life Is Strange has given the series a bit of a shakeup, with limitations to Max's powers that make some of her choices much more finite, and thus seemingly more meaningful, than those in the previous episode.  The occasional moments of awkward slang in the dialog reappear here, and some of the game's puzzles are tedious, but the rest of the game makes up for it.  Max's choices are beginning to have visible consequences, the voice acting is excellent, and the music still remains a wonderfully paired with the vocal performances. The story of the second episode ends on an exciting conclusion, making this episode feel fulfilling on its own.  However, one can't help but wonder how the next episode unfurls.

Final Verdict:
 
4 out of 5

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Life Is Strange Episode 1 Review

Dontnod Entertainment advances the choice and consequences formula made popular by Telltale Games, with an interesting time rewinding mechanic, set around an interesting story about power, corruption, bullies, and a mystery surrounding an impending disaster.

The first chapter of Life Is Strange takes place at a private high school named Blackwell, where an art student named Max discovers that she has the power to rewind time when she witnesses a confrontation in the girl's bathroom.  This is the crux of the story, but things delve deeper when she discovers that the incident was only the tip of the iceberg, and violence is a common occurrence at Blackwell.  However, she finds that due to the corruption of the school and the town, it's hard to make any permanent changes with her new found powers.  Some of the dialog is a bit weak, especially the forced use of teen slang that is quite awkward, both in the written form and when spoken by the voice actors.  However, the story itself is fantastically written, and the violent atmosphere surrounding the school feels all too real, which definitely offsets the few moments of awkwardness in some of the dialog.

The real shining gem of this series is definitely the rewind mechanic, which is put to good use here. Max can rewind time at any point, to do anything from catch bits of background activity that she might have missed to making a new choice in a major decision that is presented to her.  The choice and consequences system is laid out much like Telltale's games.  Max is presented a variety of options in a situation, and she must make her choice.  The choices affect events later in the episode, as well as in episodes that happen later down the road.  The Telltale influence extends into the user interface as well, as gamers are informed via a graphic that her choices will have consequences.  The rewind mechanism makes things a little more relaxed than in Telltale's offerings however, as choices don't have to be made on the spot as mandated by a timer.  If the gamer wants to have Max make a different decision, the decision can be rewound in the episode itself, rather than having to be done later via the menu, which also means that the remainder of the episode doesn't need to be replayed if the choice has been changed.  However, once Max leaves that location, her powers can no longer extend to that choice, and any choice made will be set in stone.  The game also deviates from the most recent of Telltale's games in that it contains environment puzzles.  The puzzles aren't any more difficult than those found in The Walking Dead, but like that game, they work well within the game's world, and work well with the rest of the game mechanics, as opposed to feeling tacked on for the sake of the genre.

The voice acting is excellent, and the voice actors do a great job showing the seedy underbelly of Blackwell at work.  As mentioned before, some of the dialog is clunky, and the voice actors can't overcome this, however the awkward slang is pretty sparse, and every other line delivery by the voice actors is top notch.  The music works as well.  While it's not memorable, it sets the tone of the game, and frames the voice performances quite nicely.

Chrysalis is an excellent start to an intriguing entry into the choices and consequences genre.  There are some environment puzzles, although they aren't very challenging.  However, the rewind mechanic far overcomes any qualms about easy puzzles.  It's a great addition to the genre, and works well with the choices and consequences mechanic.  The story is intriguing and well written, with the exception of some clunky slang which feels forced.  The voice acting and the music are also top notch. Overall, the first chapter is a great start, and is well worth playing.

Final Verdict:
 
4 out of 5

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sony Is Providing Marketing and Publishing For Shenmue 3

Update: The Shenmue 3 Kickstarter has posted an update explaining the outside funding the game will have. Shibuya Productions is also helping with Shenmue 3. Sony will also be providing some publishing support, which makes sense as, alongside PC, Shenmue 3 is also slated for a PlayStation 4 release.

Sony revealed that they teamed up with Ys Net to help make Shenmue 3 a reality and then stated that they wanted to gauge fan support of Kickstarter to gauge the interest in the game.  At face value, that seems like an unethical use of Kickstarter.  It has been revealed, however, that Sony's role in the project isn't quite what it seemed.

The Shenmue 3 Kickstarter was updated on the second day of the campaign with an entry on their frequently asked questions section that stated that there are multiple sources of outside funding available to the team, but Ys Net can't reveal them due to contractual obligations.  It seemed that one of these multiple investors was Sony, since they showcased Shenmue 3 on their stage at E3 and confirmed that they are helping with the game.

However, according to Sony Vice President Adam Boyes, their involvement in this game was simply to provide a platform to advertise the game at E3 and to help with marketing.  So, their comments about wanting to gauge fan reaction to the Kickstarter aren't unethical, as they simply have to do with how they market the game for Ys Net, and that's a perfectly reasonable approach toward the Kickstarter campaign when your role in the project at that point is simply as a marketing firm. Sony is not even contributing money towards actual development costs of Shenmue 3 at this point.

Tales from the Borderlands Episode 3 Is Out Now

Telltale's third episode of their episodic series, Tales from the Borderlands, is out now for PC and Mac through their store. It will be out for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, as well as on Steam and GOG.com for PC and Mac later today. Then it will release for Xbox 360 and Xbox One tomorrow, and for iOS and Android on Thursday.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Dreamfall Chapters Book Three Coming June 25th

The third chapter of Dreamfall Chapters, the third game in The Longest Journey series, is titled Realms. In this middle chapter of the saga, Zoe and Kian's paths will finally converge. It will be released for Windows, Mac, and Linux on June 25, 2015.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Tale of Tales, Developer of Sunset, Leaving Game Business

A blog post by Tale of Tales has confirmed that the company, composed of artists Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn, is going to stop making commercial video games after their latest game, Sunset, only sold 4,000 units, including the initial Kickstarter pledges, failing to recoup costs. However, a twitter post has confirmed that they are merely leaving the commercial game business. and the company is not closing.

If you want to play their games, all of their games are still on sale on Steam (including Sunset) until the Steam Summer Sale ends tomorrow.  If you want to support their digital art going forward, you can support them via Auriea's Patreon page and Michaël's Patreon page.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Tales from the Borderlands is Now On GOG.com

Tales from the Borderlands is now available at GOG.com, and is currently 50% off as part of their summer sale, which ends tomorrow. All of the Telltale games available at GOG.com are currently on sale, ranging from 50% off to 90% off, as part of the summer sale as well.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Anna's Quest E3 Trailer

Daedalic has released a new trailer for the upcoming adventure game, Anna's Quest, which is developed by Krams Design, which is a full game adaptation of the game that was originally intended to be released in chapters, starting with Anna's Quest: Volume 1 in 2012 (which is no longer available for purchase).

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Double Fine and Adult Swim Partner To Make New Game

Double Fine announced that they are partnering with Adult Swim to make a new game.  As the tweet that announced the game mentioned that it was a brand new video game, it's likely that this will be an an IP that Double Fine hasn't tackled before.

Nothing about this game is known yet, outside of the fact that it exists, but Double Fine has stated that more information about the game will be coming soon.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

King's Quest Chapter 1: A Knight to Remember Coming In July

The first episode of the upcoming episodic King's Quest game, developed by The Odd Gentlemen and published by Sierra, is going to be released in late July for PC, PlayStation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.

Shenmue 3 Is Now On Kickstarter

Shenmue 3, the long awaited sequel to Yu Suzuki's Dreamcast saga Shenmue and Shenmue II, the latter of which was also released on Xbox, is now on Kickstarter. It has already made it's goal of 2 million dollars, and still has 30 days to go.  It has support from Sony as well, who apparently requested a 2 million dollar goal from fans as they wanted to be sure the fan support was there.  It will be released on PlayStation 4 and Windows. If you're one of the many people who have been hoping this game would be announced, head over to the Kickstarter and pick a pledge tier.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Firewatch to Debut on PlayStation 4

Firewatch, the first game by Campo Santo, the studio founded by The Walking Dead lead designers Jake Rodkin and Sean Vanaman, will be coming to the PlayStation 4 first, and will follow on PC, Mac, and Linux shortly afterward. No release date has been set, but Campo Santo is aiming for release by the end of 2015.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Walking Dead: Michonne Miniseries Coming Fall 2015


The Walking Dead: Michonne was announced at E3.  It is a three episode miniseries that will follow Michonne from The Walking Dead, that explains what happened to her in the time frame when she was missing from the comic.

It will be downloadable content for The Walking Dead: Season Two, and will require at least the first episode of that season to play. According to IGN, it's going to come out in Fall 2015 for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PS3, PC, iOS, and Android.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Through the Woods on Kickstarter

Through the Woods is a Norwegian 3rd person Horror adventure game that is currently on Kickstarter. They are just $5,000 shy of their goal with just under 3 days left in the campaign. So, if this sounds interesting to you, head over to the Kickstarter page and pick a pledge tier.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead series on GOG.com


More Telltale games are now available DRM-free on GOG.com. You can pick up The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead series for 75% off too if you grab them now, as they're currently part of GOG.com's summer sales.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Adventuress Game Dev Jam #1: Tim Schafer

The Adventuress begins a new series of game jams where the theme is to create a game inspired by a game developer. This jam was inspired by the first Femicom Game Jam, where the goal was to make a game inspired by the games created by Theresa Duncan.

The first Game Dev Jam is dedicated to Tim Schafer. So, the goal is to make a game inspired by any of this well known developer's games (Monkey Island 1&2, Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, Grim Fandango, Psychnoauts, Brutal Legend, Double Fine Happy Action Theater, Broken Age). The jam ends two weeks from now, on the 21st of June at 12AM EST.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Blackwell Deception Review

The game takes up the story left after the last game, where Rosa decides to stop being passive and advertise as real psychic detectives, to Joey's dismay.  This new situation leads the duo into new directions, and ultimately ends up providing them with many of the answers that they have both been seeking.  The story is fantastic, and is longer than any of the games in the series before it, revealing a lot about the forces that compel the Blackwell family and Joey, while leaving enough open for the finale.

The graphics have been overhauled.  Although it's still low, the resolution has been increased somewhat.  This allows for the sprites and character portraits to have more detail than before. As such, they both have a different style than previous games, but they still work well.  Like The Shivah kosher edition, the character portraits don't animate when the characters talk. However, like that game, since the still character closeups still manage to convey a great deal of emotion that the sprites can't, they're still beneficial despite their lack of animation.

Joey returns as a playable character, but now his wind ability and tie are inventory items, so clicking on items that can be used with these abilities is no longer automatic.  Joey can also now leave a scene, and Rosa will follow him, whereas in previous games he would comment that he can't leave without her.  On Rosa's end, she now has a cell phone, so she can call people and search the internet for clues without having to go back to her apartment.  Her notebook is also digital, now as part of her phone menu.  The investigation technique has gone back to that of previous games, where you combine different clues to form a connection in order to get a new line of evidence for questioning. Outside of puzzles that require the phone, the majority of the puzzles are still standard inventory and dialog tree adventure puzzles.  There is one area that seems like a dead end, but there actually is a way to fix it, so there is no need to worry about getting stuck.  This alternate solution works well in the game, and goes a long way to keep the feeling of immersion in the game intact.  The Blackwell games have always taken the LucasArts approach to adventure gaming, with no dead ends and no deaths.  That tradition has been continued in The Blackwell Deception.

The audio quality, which improved tremendously in the last chapter, continues to be excellent here. The voice overs are all well done.  Four chapters in, and the actors have definitely settled well into their roles.  The voice actors for Rosa and Rosa, in particular, show a lot of emotion here.  Both have evolved a lot since we first saw them, and they continue to evolve here.  We learn more about Joey than we ever have, so his voice actor really gets the chance to shine here.  The music once again is excellent here as well, working perfectly in tandem with the excellent voice work.

The bonus material makes a welcome return as well, presented the same way as the last game, with multiple commentary tracks which can be clicked at points in the game.  The bloopers are, likewise, presented in the same fashion.  This change to the presentation of the bonus material was definitely one for the better, so it's good that they continued it the same way here.  The best part is that it is completely optional, as usual, so you can play the game with or without the commentary hot spot icons at your own discretion,

The Blackwell games have improved in quality as they went on, and that continues here.  The Blackwell Deception is longer than its predecessors, with a meatier story that reveals some backstories of the characters, and begins to unravel the secrets surrounding their world.  The notebook puzzles have made their return, and are used effectively, as are the internet searches and e-mails.  The voice work and music is excellent, and the art style has received a noticeable upgrade. The character portraits no longer animate, but they are still effective in providing the range of emotions that the character sprites alone can not.  This is, without a doubt, the best Blackwell game in the series so far.

Final Verdict:

5 out of 5

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

More Wadjet Eye Games Coming To iOS

Dave Gilbert responded to an ask.fm post with the information that the problems caused by the iOS 8.3 update have been worked around, and now they're working on bringing Blackwell Deception, Blackwell Epiphany, and Primordia to iOS, in that order.

The Blackwell Convergence Review

The Blackwell Convergence is the third entry in the Blackwell series by Wadjet Eye Games.  This entry in the popular saga picks up the story started in the last game, and takes it to new heights.

The story finds Rosa learning about an old case that her aunt had taken on 35 years earlier, during the events of Blackwell Unbound.  She and Joey soon discover some of the reasons that led to the events of that game.  They also learn, however, that the case isn't quite as closed as Joey had thought, so it's up to Rosa to try to tie up the loose ends.  The stories in the Blackwell series have always been good, dealing just the right amount of drama and comedy, but this game takes it to new levels.  The drama is heightened, Joey's character is taken to places we haven't yet seen, and some of the mystery of the Blackwell legacy is starting to be revealed.

The game play is once again mainly inventory and dialog puzzles.  However, one of the gameplay staples of the series, the use of the notebook, has been simplified. You no longer have to connect clues in the notebook to make a connection, as investigating a lead will lead to the connections automatically, leading to the option of interrogation on the subject being available in conversation immediately.  The ability to use the internet to search for clues has returned from The Shivah, including the ability to read e-mails. However, the latter just provides an insight into what has happened to some characters since The Blackwell Legacy, and don't come into play through puzzles.

The graphics have once again received a makeover. The graphics are still low resolution, but the background art style is more detailed now, and the character closeups have returned.  The latter is a welcome return, since the character closeups allow for a wider range of emotions than the pixelized character sprites can provide on their own.  With the return however, comes another change, as the character portraits are now presented in a circle. This is a bit jarring at first, but ultimately it makes for a cleaner visual experience.

The music is once again excellent, setting the atmosphere as well as the soundtrack of Blackwell Unbound did before it.  The voices have been vastly improved as well.  The voice actors of Rosa and Joey continue to provide stellar performances, and the rest of the cast is up to the same standards. The voices of old women in this game have improved exponentially, including that of a returning character.  They no longer sound like a young woman trying to hard to do an older voice, and manage to sound much more natural.

The bonus material returns in this game, although they are presented in a different fashion from previous games.  If you turn on the commentary track, if there are now points in the game that have multiple commentary tracks available, you can click on buttons on your screen to hear them.  The bloopers have also returned, but they now have to be selected through the commentary buttons as well.  I have always appreciated these additions to the game, as they were completely optional, and provided insight into what goes on behind the scenes in making the game.  It's good to see that the tradition of including them has returned here.

The Blackwell Convergence is the best Blackwell game yet.  Just about every aspect of the game has improved, from the story, to the art style, and especially the voice work.  There are no grating voices in this game, and both the returning and new actors provide great performances.  The music is once again wonderful as well, providing an excellent accompaniment to the voice work, and setting the tone of the game nicely.  The simplifying of the notebook is a bit disappointing, but that doesn't deter from the rest of the game, as it is an upgrade upon its forerunners in every other way.

Final Verdict:

4 out of 5

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Blackwell Unbound Review

Blackwell Unbound took a different approach to all of the other games in the series, in that it featured Rosa's aunt Lauren in the lead role.  It was originally meant to be a flashback scene in The Blackwell Convergence, but Dave Gilbert decided to flesh it out into its own full game.  This ended up being a wise choice, as it's a meatier game than its predecessor, as Lauren is a very different character than Rosa, so the differing dynamic between her and Joey makes for a refreshing change of pace.

As the main character is Lauren Blackwell, who had already died at the beginning of Blackwell Legacy, the game takes place 35 years in the past from the main timeline, in 1973.  Lauren has a very different personality than Rosa, so the dynamic between Joey and herself is like day and night, leading to a refreshing change of pace from the rest of the series. The story depicts a pivotal moment in Lauren and Joey's relationship, at a time when helping souls get to the afterlife has gotten mundane.  Things are shaken up quickly once they get a lead on two seemingly unconnected spiritual sightings, that turn out to be connected in a way neither of them thought possible.  The story in this game is even better than the first, allowing the player to play either case first, or even simultaneously, and weaving the story line throughout them seamlessly.

The game play is much the same as the last game, as it is mainly an inventory puzzle based adventure with some moments when Lauren must use her notebook to combine pertinent information to find connections.  There is now an ability to search for clues, much like the internet interface in The Shivah, however, since this is set in an earlier time period, Lauren must use the phone book to find leads.  The most notable change in this game is that Joey has now become a playable character.  Icons for Joey and Lauren have been added to the menu bar, and either character can be selected at any time.  This new mechanic adds a great deal to the game, as Joey's ghostly form means that he can find evidence that is out of Lauren's reach.

The art style is similar to the first game, with pixelated backgrounds and characters.  However, the detail in the backgrounds has been improved.  There are no character closeups this time, so the characters aren't given expressive facial features when they talk.  Mouth movements are now relegated to the low resolution sprites, and text appears over their heads, as in LucasArts adventure games.  This is a bit disappointing, as the character portraits allowed for more expression than is possible with the low resolution sprites, but, as it always had with LucasArts games, this type of presentation ultimately does work well.

As the game has multiple cases, it is much longer than before, and, as such, there is more music this time around as well.  All of it is done very well, and some of it is quite memorable, particularly the piano pieces from the jazz club.  The voice quality has also improved this time around.  The noise variations and loud sibilance in some of the recordings that were present in the earlier games by Wadjet Eye Games are no longer present. The exception of the older woman characters, who, like Edna in Back to the Future: The Game, come off sounding unnatural as they're younger women trying too hard to sound older.  The rest of the cast, including Joey and Lauren themselves, are quite good.  Abe Goldfarb in particular seems to have settled into the role nicely, giving a great range of emotion in his role of Joey.

The bonus material also makes a return here.  There is a commentary track available in the menu, as before.  However, this game brings optional tracks that can be found by using the camera on certain characters in the game.  The additional tracks include commentary by other members of the crew, as well as bloopers by the voice cast.  It's nice that Wadjet Eye Games continues to provide these with their games, as they are completely optional, and provide a nice insight into what goes on behind the scenes for those who do choose to listen to them.

Blackwell Unbound is a fantastic followup to an already great debut.  Other than the lack of character portraits, the rest of the game has been improved upon the original in every way.  The story is bigger, as is Joey's role in it, as he has become a playable character in his own right.  The music is more memorable this time around, and the voice quality has been improved.  With the exception of a few unnatural sounding voices, most of the voice work is well done.

Final Verdict:

4 out of 5

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Blackwell Legacy Review

Wadjet Eye Games released a game that was a commercial remake and expansion of Dave Gilbert's short, incomplete freeware game, Bestowers of Eternity.  That game, Blackwell Legacy, is the first chapter in a five part series. It starts things off with a bang, delivering a great adventure game with interesting puzzles and a fantastic story.

The game follows a young woman named Rosangela Blackwell, who has just lost her aunt, and learns of her legacy as a medium who can see and talk to ghosts. Rosa learns that she contains a portal to the afterlife within her, and her spirit guide, Joey, is the link that allows spirits to enter that portal to move on to the afterlife.  Joey and Rosa must finish unfinished business for spirits before they can accept their fates and move on.  The story is well done, and is entertaining from start to finish.  There is just the right amount of comedy and drama, and Dave Gilbert manages to write both exceptionally well.

The majority of the game is played as Rosa, since Joey can't affect the mortal world, outside of a small, ghostly breeze.  However, Joey is the main person to speak to spirits, as they relate to him better.  The majority of the game is played through standard inventory puzzles and puzzles from dialog trees.  However, the ability to combine information learned from notes has returned from The Shivah.  Here, Rosa has a notebook, and she has written down vital information inside.  Sometimes new leads can only be found by combining one item in the notebook with another, which will cause Rosa to realize the links between the two.  This mechanic was one of my favorite parts of The Shivah, and it's handled even better here.

Blackwell Legacy is presented in the same fashion as most Wadjet Eye games.  The graphics are low resolution, so characters and backgrounds are pixelated.  The backgrounds manage to be quite well done despite the pixelation, recreating the city of New York quite well. So, when Rosa and Joey talk on a pier with the Brooklyn Bridge behind them, the graphics don't take you out of the experience, but, in contrast, help to set the mood of the scene.  The characters have portraits which are animated when the characters speak, which go a long way to convey emotion in a way that the low resolution character sprites can not.  The game was updated in 2011, so the version currently available also has improved fonts, compared to the original version, released in 2006.

The music of the game is well done, and fits the tone of the game well.  Sometimes the levels of the voice work can vary, and some recordings can have an overly loud sibilance, but overall the voices are quite well done.  The updated version of the game has re-recorded voice over work by Rebecca Whittaker, who played Rosa in the later games of the series, replacing Sande Chen from the 2006 original.  This was done both for consistency for the later games in the series, and so some of Rosa's dialog could be changed for the new version.  Rebecca does a great job with the role, and her dialog fits well with the rest of the game.  If you didn't know that it wasn't there originally, you wouldn't even know that they were new recordings for the updated version.

The game also contains bonuses, some of which unlock at the end of the game, such as the bloopers, and others, such as the commentary tracks, which are selectable from the start via the menu.  The 2011 version has two commentary tracks, the original 2006 commentary, and new commentary for the fifth anniversary of the game.  It's possible to play either of these tracks, or both at the same time. Both will be displayed automatically at certain points in the game, and will stop gameplay while they're being told.  It's possible to skip any of these tracks at any time by pressing a key on the keyboard. It's nice that these bonuses have been provided, as they are completely optional, and they provide a fun insight into the development of the game.

The Blackwell Legacy started the series off brilliantly.  The origin story of Rosa and Joey was told in a strong fashion, and already went a long way to provide character moments to endear gamers to these characters.  The writing is excellent, and the music is great as well.  The voice over work is mostly well done, with a few technical hiccups.  The changes to the updated version of the game are mostly subtle, and manage to fit within the game well.  Rebecca Whittaker's new recordings of Rosa, in particular, fit in the game so well that you wouldn't know they were new.  The game is a tad short, but the first outing of The Blackwells is a grand one, and is a must play to anyone who likes classic adventure games.

Final Verdict:

4 out of 5