You know, let me tell you one of my all time favorite movies that’s a psychological thriller that deals with ghosts and loose spirits that weren’t exactly evil, but instead lost souls that have no idea that they are dead. And that’s The Sixth Sense. That film took the concept of seeing dead people in a captivating level where it focus heavily on character development and knowing that ghosts aren’t all evil, we just fear the unknown. This film could have been a ghostbusters knock-off if they made it all action and made the ghosts typically evil. The illogic thing about ghosts is why would good people who died all of the sudden turned evil? It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. As much as I love the Sixth Sense, I can’t really be demanding a sequel because M. Night Shyamalan’s movies today are terrible in both directing and writing screenplays. But what amazes me is that there’s a video game series that takes the similar concept & mythos of what the Sixth Sense started. So how can you make a game based on a movie that has no action, but instead has strong character development and a puzzling mystery? You sure as hell can’t do it in a FPS, you can’t do it on a Platformer, and you especially can’t do it in an action game. So it makes sense to make it an adventure game, and this point-and-click adventure game series is…
I love independent games, or indie games for short. This series went to a direction in games where there’s a lot of risk, but the independent developers who created this wonderful series has nothing to loose because for mainstream games to make an adventure game is a huge risk, due to the fact that the majority of gamers today just demands nothing in their games but action. Wadjet Eye Games & founder Dave Gilbert began the series back in December 26, 2006. I didn’t hear about this series until much later when I started to crave for adventure games and just hearing the concept of a person seeing ghosts and helping them that sound similar to the Sixth Sense and, most of all, actually goes above and beyond what the film left out all sounded fascinating to me.
Beginning this review on the series we go all the way back to the beginning of the series with Blackwell Legacy. Our main character of the series is Rosangela Blackwell. She’s a young freelance writer living a solitary life in New York City. Her one and only relative, Aunt Lauren Blackwell, have passed away. She was at the George Washington Bridge to fulfill her aunt’s wish in throwing her ashes to the river. Before her dying day, Rosangela had no knowledge or memory of her one and only relative, but the family secret will soon prevail. The beginning of the game shows us the life of Rosangela, or Rosa for short, and how lonely and dark her world is. Rosa’s a hard-working freelance writer while a nice person at heart, she has a very dry personality at times, and she seems to have a hard time interacting with others. After her aunt’s pass, she only wished that she would know her more due to the fact that she’s been in a coma for 20 years. Fortunately she met her aunt’s doctor who tried to help her metal collapse before her pass. It turns out that her metal collapse was hereditary going on for two generations, beginning with her grandmother. As both of Rosa’s grandmother and aunt died from the same cause, it is of concern that it will soon happen to Rosa as well. What’s even more of a concern is that before both her grandmother and aunt died, both of them cried out “Joey.” The doctor said that they tried to find who Joey was for 25 years and there was no trace to any person name Joey who had any relation to the Blackwell family. But we will cover that in this review.
Rosangela would of try to solve this mystery but she has a job to do to write about a suicide in a college dorm. The suicide in college serves a huge part of the plot because as soon as Rosa knows what she’s made of, then she would solve this weird mystery of this student’s death that came out of nowhere, since the other students that known that person didn’t care about her. In the course of the game Rosangela develops from an independent person whose getting used to the social life in New York City into a brave and lovable character towards the end. You’ll be seeing a lot of new characters like Jim who’s overprotective of Rosa’s apartment, Nishanti the next door neighbor, to the ghosts who has no idea that they’re dead, to the witnesses and loved ones of the ghosts to interact, chat, or interview. Like all adventure games, interacting with your character furthers the progression of the game, and decides which choice of dialog in the conversation tree will trigger the correct response of the character you’re interacting plus access to new locations that you couldn’t reach. I thing I just noticed about many adventure games is that they have in-game notes to tell the player what did you discovered, questions you want to know based on what you’ve experienced in your game, or hits to your next location. But what Blackwell Legacy did with those in-game notes is to make it look your character’s actual notes rather than a thing that only exist to the player. This means that the note that you carry can be used them to interview people, since the dialog in your conversation tree can hold everything. If you didn’t go into an event in the game which adds that to your note, then you can’t ask anyone that question of that event unless you witness it yourself. This adds a lot of encouragement of exploration in the world of Blackwell Legacy.
But where the game really starts to shine was when you’re introduced to a character that introduces you to the spirit world and make you start seeing actual ghosts. Around the part where Rosangela starts getting headaches, it’s causing her inner power to develop up until she meets, this whole mysterious Joey person that Rosa’s grandmother and Aunt Lauren cried out before they died. Joey Malone, in a matter of fact, is the Blackwell family’s spirit guide who protected them for three generations of the family. He appears to be this New York City’s private detective from the 1930s, 40s, or 50s. And I got to admit his first impression with Rosa was just plain hilarious… As it turns out Rosa’s grandmother was the first one to see Joey but she didn’t last long because she couldn’t accept that she’s seeing ghosts and went insane. Lauren Blackwell, however accepted that she’s a medium and helped Joey in helping these loose spirits spreading around New York City. Even though Lauren’s death remains a mystery (which I’m not going to spoil), it’s now Rosangela Blackwell’s turn to take over Lauren’s duty as a medium. A medium in the Blackwell series is a living person who can see ghosts and enter the spirit world, but this ability they must save loose spirits and guide them to the spirit world where they belong.
The way that this works is this, Joey has a tie that he wears around his neck and it’s the only spiritual thing that Rosa can literally touch. Once holding it, all she has to do is pull the tie, while the ghost is holding the other end of the tie which pulls the ghost in her head. Once entering in the head, they’ve entered the spirit world, well actually they’re inside her head, but inside her head is a spiritual way station which is a white light that leads the ghosts that Rosa rescues to enter infinity. Joey said it himself that he tried to enter the world but couldn’t because he’s the Blackwell family’s spirit guide which forbids him to enter the world beyond. But Rosa needs to work with Joey in saving these spirits is because if she doesn’t put a ghost through the gateway inside her head in a long time, then she’ll become insane like her grandmother and Aunt Lauren. But it’s not as easy as to just go up to a ghost and use Joey’s tie, tie them the ghost up, and pull them into Rosa’s head, they first need to know that they are actually dead and make them accept what they now are in order for them to even enter your head to the gateway.
Now this is the part of the game that gets really interesting because at this point of the game, it become the object of the game to find a ghost and make them go into your head and send them to the gateway. But as I stated before, it won’t work unless you prove to them that they are dead. So at this point of the game, you must interview the people who actually know of the person who’s dead, find the actual location of the ghost, and try to convince them that they are dead, but most likely they’ll deny it believing that they’re alive (and not remembering of the cause of their death). Now in order to do that you have to investigate the cause of death, look at the ghost’s private property, talk to the people who know of the dead one to find out their weakness in convincing that they are dead and so much more. Since you have a great variety of ghosts, and different causes of death, throughout the series, this gives us so many opportunities of puzzle solving, locations to explore, and even a great variety of characters to interact with like any other adventure game.
Well, I’m not going to tell you what kind of ghost you’re going to end up helping because that’s the fun part that I don’t want to spoil. Trying to help just one is very time consuming, because you’re going to have to know almost everything about them, but this kind of display of heroism is really unique because in terms of character development it adds a good degree of emotional level and envestment of caring for them.
In the Sixth Sense they only saved one ghost and the rest of the movie showed that they’ll save more leaving so many things unfinished & mysterious, but throughout the Blackwell series you’ll save numerous of ghosts to save in order for Rosangela to save herself from insanity for not helping them. Joey will always in company you where you go he provides you hints, helps out with the tie he carries in order for the ghost to get in Rosa’s head, and especially provide comedic relief throughout the series. Topic of people dead and trying to help out these ghost is a depressing topic, but with Joey around, he’s always there to make the funniest gags, dark humor, and flat out give Rosa a hard time and with that in mind, he simply adds so much charm to his character that it makes you smile every time.
Speaking of making me smile, I love how well crafted Blackwell Legacy is actually. You can tell that Dave Gilbert loves classic adventure games because the presentation of this game looks very similar to my favorites like Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, Beneath the Steel Sky, and the rest. It’s simply nostalgic to play through this game with an excellent varied soundtrack playing at each location you’re in. As for the story, I will have to say that the torn of this game is sad driven, but very charming and settling as you continue the game. This story is very well told and it’s somthing that I can really relate to. If I were a film maker, and had the opportunity of adapting a game into a film, I would want this game to be a the best game adapted into a film. I mean, there was so much heart put in this game that I can go on & on telling you why this game is so good, but it’s something that you need to experience yourself. I will say however that the only negative I have with this game is that the game is a little too easy and the voice acting is good with some performances like Joey, but there are some like Roseangela’s voice actress that does not sound natural. I love Eosa’s character but man, she sounds like she reading her script and wines whenever she speaks. If she wasn’t a caring character, I would of simply hated Rosangela as a character. Other than that, I sure as hell had a fun time playing this game & it was a special gem that’s very under the radar. My recommendation to adventure gamers out there, is a really recommended one.
The Top Lister’s rating for Blackwell Legacy – 4 Fingers out of 5.