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

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