The Blackwell Deception

Posted by Mervyn Graham.
First posted on 12 October 2011. Last updated on 30 January 2013.
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The Blackwell Deception
Joey and Rosa investigate a seemingly deserted yacht that is haunted by a ghost.
The Blackwell Deception
Rosa questions Penelope's mother for clues.
The Blackwell Deception
Rosa consoles Jeremy who finally accepts his fate.
The Blackwell Deception
Rosa learns of a love tryst gone wrong.
The Blackwell Deception
Rosa meets the mysterious Gavin.

The Blackwell Deception Limited Edition DVD

The Limited Edition DVD includes, in addition, all previous games in the Blackwell series (Blackwell Unbound, The Blackwell Legacy, The Blackwell Convergence) as well as an exclusive MP3 soundtrack and animated shorts for the game.

The Blackwell Deception is the fourth game in the Blackwell series from Dave Gilbert of Wadjet Eye games. Gilbert has established himself as a prominent indie game developer and publisher, receiving both commercial success and critical acclaims for his retro styled games. Games such as Bestowers of Eternity, The Shivah, and Emerald City Confidential explores ghostly and mystery themes that he also explores in the Blackwell series. As a masterful story writer, Gilbert has brought back classic adventure gaming in his own inimitable style. The Blackwell Deception is a must play game for all fans of the Blackwell series and all fans of adventure games.

The Blackwell Deception continues the story of The Blackwell Convergence. Rosangela (Rosa) Blackwell is still the embittered medium, while Joey Mallone remains as Rosa's spiritual guide. Joey is the same wise-cracking, cynical ghost who spews out brilliant comebacks and hilarious intended puns. As with previous games in the series, New York City once again provides the backdrop as a spook's paradise where Rosa and Joey must try to help 7 ghosts pass onto a spiritual world. Throughout the game, you (as the player) will frequent such notable landmarks as Chelsea Piers, Hudson River, High Line Park, George Washington Bridge, Park Avenue, Alphabet City, Columbia University, and many more.

With The Blackwell Deception, Gilbert has scripted his best story by far for the series. It is also relatively lengthy, longer than all of the series' previous games. Like the previous games, it is a classic point-and-click, third-person adventure. This time, Rosa and Joey are brought back together to investigate another spate of unexplained killings in New York City. The dynamic pair form a perfect team: Joey comes in handy walking through locked doors, eavesdropping on confidential conversations, reading confidential documents, creating a slight breeze to move objects, and disrupting electrical appliances without being seen, whereas Rosa can physically pick up objects (such as those objects that Joey moves by blowing) as well as interrogate both humans and ghosts.

Installation of the game is straightforward. Once installed, you can select Options from the main menu to enable or disable Voice, Text, and Commentary in the game. These settings can also be toggled in the Options menu accessible from within the game proper. Additionally, there is a new setting, Walk Speed, that allows you to control how fast Rosa and Joey walk.

The game begins on a starry night with Rosa and Joey on board a yacht that is moored at the Chelsea Piers on the Hudson River. The yacht is secured each night, yet it is seen floating somewhere down the river and going around in circles by next morning. Rosa and Joey have been tasked to investigate this strange occurrence, as it may be a sign of unbelieving ghosts that have not yet accepted their deaths. As they put these and other ghosts to rest, they realize that all of them seem to be tied to a particular place and a particular person named Gavin. Who is Gavin? What connection does Joey have with these deaths? What shady past has Joey withheld from Rosa? The Blackwell Deception will answer these questions and many more.

The production of this game has improved markedly over that of earlier games in the series. Although the game still supports only a resolution of 640x480 pixels, it now features much better graphics. Both character and background arts have been significantly refined. The only regression is the nonexistent lip-sync with the spoken dialogs (which exists in previous games). The Blackwell Deception is about twice as long as Blackwell Unbound and The Blackwell Legacy. It also has many more puzzles to solve than in those games. Some of the puzzles are a little tricky, but all of them are logical. Unlike previous games, only twice do you have to combine names from Rosa's notebook in this game. Rosa also now owns a MyPhone which enables her to read emails, conduct web searches on "Oogle", and compare notes. This can save so much time because you no longer need to go back to Rosa's apartment repeatedly to use her telephone and computer.

Navigation in this game is extremely simple. The game uses only 1 cursor. 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. A built-in hotspot finder highlights important objects or characters as you hover the mouse over them. You can switch between Joey and Rosa by hitting the Tab key. You can also switch to Joey by clicking on the J icon or Rosa by clicking on the R icon from the dropdown menu.

The dialog system in this game is 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 the different responses. It is important to exhaust all the dialogs, as they may contain valuable information critical to the game's story.

The voice acting in this game is professionally done and exceptional. Abe Goldfarb (the voice of Joey) is at his inimitable best and aptly matches Rebecca Whittaker (the voice of Rosa). Fans of Gilbert will be delighted by the 3 cameo appearances made by Gilbert himself. All of the voices help to bring the sprites to life and give dimension to the animated characters. The sound effects in this game are also well done. The background piano, stringed, woodwind, and brass instrumental music in this game is pleasant without being distracting. The in-game commentary is particularly fun to listen while playing the game, as it gives insights to Gilbert's game design philosophy and features plenty of blooper reels made by the game's voice cast.

In sum, The Blackwell Deception offers up an intriguing ghost story set within the New York City environs. The game will keep you riveted for about 10-15 hours at a minimum. This is a must play for any gamer who loves indie and classic adventure games. When the game is finally over, you will get a warm and satisfying feeling of solving a compelling mystery.

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