The Let's Play Archive

The Blackwell Series

by cmndstab

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Original Thread: Saving spooks with magical ties and social anxiety: LP the Blackwell series

If you liked this LP, you might also like Flashback by Yahtzee, Mystic Quest by Nakar and Fate/stay night by seorin

Introduction

UPDATE - I am now going to be LPing the fifth game in the series, The Blackwell Epiphany, as well. A short summary of the first four games is included in the update links next post if you want to skip straight to Epiphany.




What is the Blackwell series?

The Blackwell series is a collection of, currently, four five old-school adventure games in episodic format, released by Wadjet Eye Games between 2006 and 2011 2014. At a time where indie promotions were quite rare, with Steam yet to really take off, and the game market dominated by big businesses, Wadjet Eye stood out as a bit of an entrepreneur in the field and has survived to this day. Their story is a nice one - a decade or so ago, budding young game designer Dave Gilbert was a regular on the Adventure Game Studio forums, and used the AGS engine to produce a number of free adventure games. One of them, The Shivah, won an award in 2006 for being the best AGS produced game, and Dave developed it further before eventually releasing the game commercially. The experience showed him that he could support himself with profits from game design, and so he formed Wadjet Eye Games with The Blackwell Legacy being the first game officially produced under its banner.


I don't want to give any of the story away in advance, as the slow reveal and strong dialogue is a strength of the series, but loosely speaking the Blackwell series follow the adventures of Rosangela Blackwell, an awkward and kind of goony young journalist whose aunt has recently died after a long battle with a mental disorder. This event ushers a new, supernatural, companion into Rosa's life and turns everything upside down in the process.


The games themselves are pretty simple fare, and can be most easily compared to early 90s Lucasarts adventure games. The pixel art is kind of charming in the first couple, and actually quite pretty in the next two games. The puzzles themselves are generally fairly easy (barring a couple of nasty ones) and the games, being episodic in nature, are pretty short. It is the dialogue and the well-crafted story that keeps them interesting. The game is played fairly straight, but is sprinkled liberally both with humour and genuinely touching moments.

The games are entirely voice acted, and the acting ranges from very good down to very poor. The early games in particular have some disappointing performances, but fortunately the leads are consistently very strong. The music is also catchy, particularly from the second game forward. The same composer is used for games 2-5 and does a great job. The games tend to have plenty of bonus content, they all come with developer commentary, and I highly recommend them for anyone looking for a bit of a retro adventure gaming experience. The entire series of four is available as The Blackwell Bundle on Steam for $20 at http://store.steampowered.com/sub/13237/, or you can purchase a bundle containing the first three games for $15 on Wadjet Eye's own page.

Of course, instead of doing that, you could just watch me play through them instead! In fact, do that. And then buy the games afterwards.



How will the LP be handled?

I will be doing this game entirely as a screenshot LP. When I think a static image isn't enough, I will use animated GIFs to show off the action. Unfortunately this will not allow you to experience the full voice acting, but it will give me the opportunity to show you the dialogue better. You see, the Blackwell series are quite wordy, and there are often multiple dialogue paths that can be taken. When appropriate, I will show you each of these individually, or try to combine them together whenever possible.

I will also be linking to the relevant soundtrack files, which I strongly recommend you listen to. They do a great job of setting the mood in the game and there are some excellent pieces, especially later on.

I will be going through each of the games in order, so one benefit of this thread will be that it will get prettier as time goes on.



Oh boy!!

Now let's set a couple of ground rules here. These threads can be pretty boring if nobody contributes, so I'm really keen for people to comment regularly on what is happening. However I am also hoping there will be quite a few posters who haven't played these games before, or perhaps only played some of them and want to see what happened. So I am requesting that spoilers be kept out of this thread . Not in the spoiler tags, not at all. Feel free to speculate or discuss what has just happened, but if you know what is coming up, please keep mum. This game relies on intrigue to stay interesting.

Secondly, a fifth Blackwell game is in the works and, according to Wikipedia, due to be released any time now ("Fall 2013"). Wadjet Eye Games don't exactly have a spotless record when it comes to keeping to release schedules, as I will discuss later in the thread, but nonetheless there is a chance it will be released during this thread. If that happens, by all means I encourage you to play it... but please don't spoil it for anyone in here. I am now going to be LPing Epiphany, so this is no longer relevant!

Finally, fanart and other such creative input is very welcome! This thread will be fairly long so you have time to think about it. I intend to update daily whenever possible.



Let's go save us some spooks!!

Table of Contents

The Blackwell Legacy

Blackwell Unbound

The Blackwell Convergence

The Blackwell Deception

A summary of the first four games

The Blackwell Epiphany
Archive Index