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Blackwell Deception

Score: 82%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Wadjet Eye Games
Developer: Wadjet Eye Games
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Classic/Retro/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

The Blackwell Deception is the fourth game in the series, and it's a shame I haven't been following it before now. The visual style hearks back to the 90's when titles like Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Full Throttle, Day of the Tentacle and the original Monkey Island and Sam and Max games were being released.

The low-rez look matches perfectly to those games, and anyone wanting a new experience with that old-school feel will easily find it here. Backdrops are highly pixelated, but still clear, while the game's characters are wonderful, blocky shapes and colors (at least by most modern game's standards) that somehow still convey exactly the look of real people. In a time when each game that comes out tries to be the next big, super-realistic, visual phenomenon, Blackwell Deception is a nice change of pace.

The game's audio also hits the mark. The background music changes slightly depending on where you are at, but the overall feel seems to do a good job of setting the pace for the rest of the game. There aren't that many urgent moments in Blackwell Deception, and the slow and light music never makes you feel rushed, which is great since there will be times when you will have to be very methodical when trying to solve a puzzle.

I was also impressed by the voice acting in the game. Everyone sounds great, and no voice feels phoned in. This includes all characters, from the main duo of Rosa and Joey, to the various side characters like the ghosts Rosa finds, or the cop investigating the death of someone Rosa knows.


Blackwell Deception starts off with Rosa and her spirit-friend Joey as they are asked to look into a yacht that decides to go on a cruise all on its own each night. This isn't the main plot, though. Instead, the haunted-yacht case is more or less a tutorial to get you familiar with not only Joey's ghostly abilities, but also Rosa's controls, along with her snazzy MyPhone.

This pixely Apple product knock-off comes in pretty handy. Not only is it a convenient place to reference any outstanding notes Rosa might have, but by combining different notes, you can help the character make certain logical leaps. If, for instance, you know a character has a friend named Rachael, and you see a letter for that character from an "R. Abu," you can click on the two notes and come up with the idea that they are most likely one in the same, Rachael Abu. Other similar situations will lead to Rosa deciding to look up some information on her Oogle Search application and verify the theories that she comes up with. There are even times when you will have to do web searches in order to learn vital information. The biggest problem with this was knowing when that was the correct action to perform.

While the yacht scene is just an opener for Blackwell Deception, the main story starts off when Rosa gets a call from an old friend at the newspaper who is working on a story and needs her help. Everyone is pretty surprised to find Rosa's friend in ghost-form in his apartment, especially since, like most ghosts in this game, he doesn't realize he is dead. Rosa and Joey then work together to figure out what the case was that her friend has been working on, only to discover it seems to be related to street-psychics and a mysterious figure known as Gavin.

As a psychic herself, Rosa is pretty cautious around the other so-called mediums, but when it looks like everyone this Gavin character meets up with ends up dead, she knows she will have to deal with the fake clairvoyances in order to find out who Gavin is, and what he is up to.

Meanwhile, there seems to be some connection to this case and Joey's past, but when that starts to become apparent, the ghost keeps his ethereal lips sealed and does everything he can to keep from delving into his own past.


I found that Blackwell Deception had some odd hiccups in the story progression. There were a few times when I didn't know what I was supposed to do next, and when that happened and I had one character consult the other in order to know what my next move was, the response was sometimes too vague to get any real meaning out of it.

Thankfully, those points weren't too frequent, and the only other times that I found myself going in circles were typically the result of me forgetting about some inventory item and simply not applying the right object to the right thing on the screen.

Game Mechanics:

Blackwell Deception has a really interesting mechanic. Actually, from what I've gathered, this is a core mechanic in all of the Blackwell games. Namely, its the ability to switch between the living Rosa and the dead Joey. For the most part, this means that no door is a barrier. If a door is locked, or someone is guarding it, you simply switch to Joey and walk right in. The caveat is, Joey is a ghost, and can't actually touch anything. The most he can manage is a breath of air. This single talent actually comes in handy in quite a few spots. Joey will typically use this ability to knock objects off of tables, but there is also the occasion where a cold breath out of nowhere can really get the story moving again.

While I didn't play the first games in the series, I didn't feel too lost coming into Blackwell Deception. There were parts of the characters' history that I didn't know, but the game seemed to do a good job of spelling these parts out if it was necessary for progressing the story. As a result, I would highly recommend Blackwell Deception to most adventure gamers, especially if you like the old-school visual style, and you don't, strictly speaking, have to have played the previous games in order know what is going on in this game.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:

Pentium or higher processor, 64MB Ram, Windows 2000, XP or Vista with DirectX5 or above, supports all DirectX-compatible sound and video cards

Test System:

Windows 7 Ultimate, Intel i7 X980 3.33GHz, 12 GB RAM, Radeon HD 5870 Graphics Card, DirectX 9.0c

Related Links:

Windows Age of Enigma Nintendo DS Solatorobo: Red the Hunter

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