On the whole, point-and-click adventure games tend to get a bad rap for often being excruciatingly long, a little on the dry side, and gruelingly tough. The Blackwell Convergence is none of those things. Instead, it offers up a highly stylish supernatural tale filled with unusual characters and punchy plot twists. It’s also just peculiar enough to keep you transfixed to the very end. Best of all, you needn’t have to have played through its two predecessors to be able to jump right in and enjoy the adventure.
After ditching a steady gig as a reporter for the Village Eye, failing New York City writer Rosangela Blackwell can’t seem to find anyone willing to publish her book. Perhaps it’s her preoccupation with the otherworldly realm and the wandering spirits of the recently decease that pose the real barrier to her literary success. With her ghostly spirit guide, Joey Malone, at her side, Rosa is more compelled to dive into investigating the mysteries unfolding around her than write about them.
Her abilities as a medium come in handy, when people start suddenly dropping like flies and a local investment organization oddly sees skyrocketing profits. But is the real danger actually of this world? It’s up to you to find out. You’ll guide the pair as they probe into a series of suspicious deaths, interview the living and the dead alike, and gather clues that lead to some surprising answers.
The Blackwell Convergence differs slightly from others of its ilk, when it comes to how you go about playing it. You’ll direct both Rosa and Joey as they explore a medley of locations in and around the city by moving the mouse and clicking on hotspot elements of the environment to make your currently selected character walk over and interact with them.
Though you’ll control Rosa most of the time, you can switch to Joey at any point to use his specific ghostly abilities. He’s especially useful for passing through solid barriers, eavesdropping on private conversations, and communicating more effectively with some ghosts. However, he needs his female counterpart to interact with real items. Joey also offers his own "unique" perspective and commentary on the people, items, and places you’ll encounter – alternating between being a funny grump and a little crude. They make a balanced duo, keeping each other in check.
You won’t find many of the standard "use item A on object B" puzzles in the game, which can make it feel a little light on the challenge at moments. The kinds of puzzles you do encounter are more subtle, but they’re incredibly clever. For example, you’ll type informational keywords you’ve come across through conversation into "Oogle" searches on Rosa’s home computer to uncover new locations to visit, engage in strategic chitchat with ghosts to convince them they’re indeed dead, and providing sneaky distractions at just the right moments in action-oriented encounters.
Where The Blackwell Convergence truly stands out is in its crafty story and overall presentation. The plot is an inventive mixture of far-out supernatural and detective drama grit. Moody, sax-laden jazz music helps set the atmosphere nicely. The dialogue and voice work is often funny, occasionally a little crass, and extremely well put-together. It strengthens the other oddball characters substantially, and the way Rosa and Joey verbally play off one another in an endearing way is comical. Visually, the game sports a stunningly retro pixel-art style that’s quite beautiful. All of these key ingredients combine to make an unforgettable adventure. And while a little more involved puzzle work would be icing on the cake, it’s still a tasty endeavor.
The serious tone and subject matter may be a bit heavy for some younger players, but the drama doesn’t push the boundaries too far. Moments of subtle humor also help clear the air at various steps along the way. Other minor quibbles include the stunted length – you’ll find a few solid hours of enjoyment here at best – and the fact the screen resolution cannot be adjusted. The game’s look is intentionally pixilated, yet playing it on large or oddly-sized computer monitor will make it a bit fuzzy.
While not necessarily for everyone, The Blackwell Convergence is a breath of fresh air amidst a genre that’s often stagnant with rehashed ideas and uninspired content. It’s certainly a little unusual in an extraordinary way.