The Blackwell Legacy is a bit of a departure from the kind of games Gamezebo usually reviews, but the mature story - about a psychic medium and her "spirit guide" investigating cases of unhappy ghosts - had us intrigued, as did the retro two-dimensional art style that made us fondly recall classic adventure games like King's Quest and Quest for Glory.
Rosangela Blackwell is a struggling author living in New York city who reviews books for the local newspaper to make ends meet. Her life is changed forever when she's paid a visit by Joey Mallone, a ghostly hanger-on inexplicably tied to female members of the Blackwell family, who are the only living people who can see him. From then on, Joey is Rosangela's constant companion.
Rosangela and Joey are tied together by a common purpose: working together - one in the spirit world and one in the physical world - they must seek out tormented spirits and help resolve their problems so that they can pass peacefully to the "other side." A disruption in the natural order can wreak havoc in both words, as the pair find out when an attempt to help the troubled ghost of a dead college girl who's haunting Washington Square Park reveals a far more complicated chain of events that threatens the lives of her friends as well.
Like a typical point-and-click adventure, you can move Rosangela from screen to screen with the mouse (Joey tags along automatically), and click on objects or people to make Rosangela interact with them. Talking with other characters is a big part of the game, and Rosangela can write down important information in a notebook for future reference. Analyzing these notes can open up new topics of conversation.
She can also pick up objects for use later on, but thankfully, item use is clear-cut and doesn't involve combining items in obscure ways to create new ones. In fact, gameplay is pretty straightforward overall, and although it has a few head-scratching moments, The Blackwell Legacy isn't one of those games that you'll need to be constantly referring to a walkthrough to complete.
That's good news for easily frustrated adventure game fans; however, by the same token gamers used to 3-D graphics and more polished production values of series' like Nancy Drew might find The Blackwell Legacy's art style - while no doubt a deliberate choice on the part of the designers - somewhat jarring. The voice-acting in the game is also uneven; the smooth-talking Joey is one of the stand-outs, but several of the female characters were less convincing.
The Blackwell Legacy is also not a game for people who are uncomfortable around the topics of death or the supernatural. The story explores themes of ghosts, suicide, murder, alcoholism and mental illness, though not in ways that are overly graphic or scary. However, if you can accept the subject matter, you'll find a thought-provoking and detailed plot.
My only major complaint with the story - aside from the fact that it basically borrows its central concept from The Sixth Sense - was that it was over too quickly, just when the game seemed to be starting to hit its stride. While I would have enjoyed it if there was simply more of The Blackwell Legacy, it's definitely the start of a promising series, and I'm looking forward to more of Rosangela and Joey's adventures.
- Interesting plot and characters. Fairly straightforward adventure without obscure items or backtracking.
- Uneven voice-acting. Adventure is on the short side. Borrows ideas from other sources, i.e. The Sixth Sense.