The Blackwell Legacy

Posted by Mervyn Graham.
First posted on 11 September 2012. Last updated on 11 September 2012.
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The Blackwell Legacy
Rosa spreads her aunt's ashes from the Queensboro Bridge.
The Blackwell Legacy
Rosa takes a stroll in the Washington Square Park.
The Blackwell Legacy
Rosa speaks to Dr. Quentin about her family secret.
The Blackwell Legacy
Rosa speaks to Kelly about her roommate's suicide.
The Blackwell Legacy
Rosa faints after meeting Joey!

The game is available at GamersGate.

Blackwell Bundle

Blackwell Bundle is comprised of 3 episodes:

Episode 1: The Blackwell Legacy

Episode 2: Blackwell Unbound

Episode 3: The Blackwell Convergence

The Blackwell Legacy is the first game in the Blackwell series from Wadjet Eye Games, an indie game development company founded by Dave Gilbert in 2006. The game is actually based on a freeware game released previously by Gilbert called Bestowers of Eternity. For the game, Gilbert has crafted an unusual and brilliant story about ghosts and mediums. Interestingly enough, as a proud New Yorker, Gilbert has also included many well-known New York cityscapes as backdrops in the game. These include the Queensboro Bridge, the Bellevue Hospital, the Washington Square Park, and even the Brittany Hall dormitory of the New York University.

The Blackwell Legacy is a third-person adventure game that pays homage to the legacy of classic adventure games of yore. There are 2 protagonists in the game—Rosangela "Rosa" Blackwell and Joey Mallone. As the player, you get to control only Rosa. Joey, a ghost, is always hovering in the background, guiding and helping Rosa whenever and wherever he can. As the game begins, Rosa, who works as a reporter for the Village Eye newspaper, is tracking down clues emanating from a spate of unusual suicides in the city. She uses her gift, passed down through generations of the Blackwell family, to act as a medium to communicate between the living and the dead. Joey, who is already dead, helps by convincing the deceased that they have really died and that they need to pass on to the spiritual world. Together, Rosa and Joey seek to uncover the link between these strange suicides and what is the cause behind these untimely deaths.

Created using Adventure Game Studio, the game supports a resolution of 640x480 pixels in 16-bit color. While the graphics may appear outdated when compared to those in more contemporary games, this game reproduces much of the charm of playing classic DOS adventure games with perfection. Indeed, little is lost in the visuals in the game despite the limited resolution. The sprites are zany and colorful, and each character has its own identifiable and unique attribute.

Installation of the game is easy. Once installed, you can select Options from the main menu to enable or disable Speech, Subtitles, and Commentary in the game. These settings can also be toggled in the Options menu accessible from within the game proper.

The game begins with a cinematic cut scene on the Queensboro Bridge. Rosa is seen scattering the ashes of her aunt who has recently died. She heads back to her apartment afterward. Rosa is a loner and a recluse. She has no friends and does not even know anybody else in her apartment block. She writes reviews for a local newspaper. For years, Rosa has been visiting her comatose aunt in a mental hospital. Life suddenly takes a strange turn for Rosa when her boss asks her to write an article about a suicide case. After a spate of suicide cases, she meets a ghost named Joey, who informs her that she is a medium between the living and the dead—just like her aunt and her grandmother before that.

Navigation in this game is simple. There are only 2 cursors used in the game: a small arrow indicates that you are in control of the action; a stopwatch indicates that you must wait until the current action is finished. Left-clicking on an object or a character interacts with that object or character, whereas right-clicking on an object or a character examines that object or character and gives a description.

During the game, you can access the inventory and a notebook from a menu that appears when you hover the cursor near the top of the screen. Once Rosa is given access to a notebook, she can use it to write down clues as notes. You can use the notebook to question other characters and to combine notes which Rosa has previously gathered to form new notes. You can look at an object in the inventory by right clicking on that object. You can combine objects within the inventory by first left-clicking on an object and then dragging it onto another object. The game has a built-in hotspot finder that highlights important objects or characters as you hover the mouse over them.

The dialog system in this game is extremely well structured. You click on a character to initiate a conversation. Once a conversation is started, several choices appear on the bottom left of the screen. From there, you can choose between different demeanors to extract information from the character, such as direct, tactical, angry, inquisitive, or other approaches. Each choice may yield a different response from the character, but the information you eventually receive is the same. A lot of the dialogs are quite long, and much important information can be learned from exhausting each entire dialog tree. The dialog is often witty and informative, presented with pathos and feeling by the lovable characters.

The game has a pleasant musical score that is played continuously in the background. Sound effects are limited but well done. I am most impressed with the professionally done voiceovers. The dialogs are spoken with feeling and empathy. The voice actors are able to extract the emotion of each character to give each role a true identity.

The game is a little too short. I am a bit disappointed to find that the game ends after only about 3 hours of play. There are some 17 characters in the game, many of which are ghosts whom Rosa and Joey try to help. There are only 14 items to collect in the inventory. The puzzles are very limited, mostly related to adding notes to the notebook or causing a distraction somewhere to gather an object.

In sum, for many adventure game fans, playing The Blackwell Legacy will immediately bring back memories of playing classic adventure games of Sierra and LucasArts. The game features a strong story and an enticing cast of characters. Even though this is a short game, there are still many hours of joy to have from playing it.

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