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The Blackwell Bundle

Score: 88%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Steam
Developer: Wadjet Eye Games
Media: Download/4
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

The Blackwell Bundle brings together all four of the indie Blackwell games that follows a young writer who just happens to have the ability to talk to ghosts.

One of the staples of the Blackwell series is the low-rez graphics that are reminiscent of what I think of as the height of adventure games, the 1990's. The animated characters and backdrops of the world all have the same look of games like The Dig, Day of the Tentacle, and Monkey Island. Wadjeteye Games has somehow found a good way to put a ton of detail into low-resolution visuals, so that even though there shouldn't be a lot of expression in the characters, you still get a good feel for what they feel. Mind you, I believe that this is something that games with the latest and greatest visual capabilities have trouble pulling off.

All four games do a great job in the sound department. The background music sets the appropriate mood in pretty much every setting and the voicework is top notch throughout all of the games, and not just the main pair. While Rosa, Lauren and Joey always sound great, as they are supposed to, even many of the one-off characters are voiced well and do a good job of selling their roles. It is clear that a lot of effort and heart went into all four of these indie titles.


The Blackwell Bundle contains four adventure games following Rosa Blackwell, her ghost partner, Joey and even her aunt Lauren, in one game, and not only do the low-rez graphics make the game stand out in today's world, but it also uses a rather interesting mechanic to make all of the Blackwell games truly stand out. That interesting twist is the fact that you get to control Joey who, while not inhibited by doors and the physical world, also can't actually manipulate anything in it either.

The first game, The Blackwell Legacy, introduces us to both Joey and Rosa. When Rosa's last living relative, Lauren, dies, she learns that her aunt was a medium. She could not only talk to ghosts, but she had a guide who was tethered to her. How exactly does she learn this? Joey Mallone, the same ghost that was tied to her aunt is now attached to Rosa. This guide from the 30's tells her that she has some new responsibilities, she has to help the ghosts of New York cross over and move on with their afterlives. Rosa's first case deals with a girl who is haunting a dog park, but she quickly learns that this death, and those of several of her friends, aren't standard suicides. There definitely seems to be something more sinister involved in this case.

Blackwell Unbound is a prequel to Legacy. Here, you control both Joey and Rosa's aunt on an investigation taking place in the 70's. In it, two unrelated cases turn out to be connected when they are both killed by the same person. While the killer seems to have good intentions, it is up to Lauren and Joey to stop The Countess from committing more murders, if only the duo could figure out how the killer is choosing the victims.

The third game in the series, Blackwell Convergence, once again follows Rosa and Joey, but has strong ties to Unbound. Taking place several months after the first game, Rosa has started to get the hang of her abilities, but when an actor gets murdered, she and Joey begin to investigate only to discover a killer from one of Lauren's old cases isn't resting so peacefully. Blackwell Convergence is a great story that really ties the previous two games together well. While Unbound was originally just going to be a small flashback sequence in Convergence, it's easy to see why the two stories were separated and made into independent adventures.

The most recent game, Blackwell Deception, was the one that introduced me to the series and got me interested in playing through the first three titles. You can read the full review of Blackwell Deception by following the link at the bottom of this review. This particular game dives a bit into Joey's past as a case the duo is working on leads them to a fake psychic with ties to someone from the ghost's life.


All four games in The Blackwell Bundle are great examples of good, solid, fun adventure titles. They each have their own quirky puzzles that fit into the Blackwell universe, and never seem out of place. I found that there was a good mix of puzzles spread throughout that allowed me to make fairly consistant progress through each of the games, but also hit enough speed bumps to keep me from feeling like the games were easy.

The real trick about the Blackwell games involves getting a good handle on which character to use when. Both Joey and his hosts (Rosa and Lauren) have their strong and weak points, so knowing which one to use for which obstacles is the key to getting past anything the games can throw at you.

Game Mechanics:

With the exception of the first game in The Blackwell Bundle, one of Blackwell's most intriguing features is the ability to switch between your living character and the ghostly Joey. Where playing as either Rosa or Lauren makes the game feel like a fairly standard point-and-click adventure, the game really takes on a nice twist when you are forced to switch to the ethereal character in order to progress in the game.

This is mainly due to Joey's built-in limits, which compliment the advantages to having a character that can walk through walls and cannot be seen rather well. Basically, besides his ability to blow on objects, Joey can't interact with anything in the living world. So while he can go into another room and see what's going on, there isn't that much he can do in that room that would help Rosa or Lauren enter it and pick up or use items. That being said, Joey has one more ability, he makes electronics go haywire, and this is an ability that you will either have to use, or be mindful of and avoid in order to make it past some of the puzzles these games throw at you.

In the end, the ability to switch between a corporeal character and one that isn't means that the puzzles you will find in the Blackwell games can be different enough to really stand out. While I had only played one game in this series prior to looking into The Blackwell Bundle, it was enough to make me want to play through the entire series. If you are even the mildest of a fan for this type of game, then you will not be disappointed in this series at all, and as a bundle package on Steam, getting all four games together is a better deal than picking them up individually.

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

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows ME or higher, Pentium Processor or higher, 64 MB RAM, 640x400, 32-bit colour: 700 Mhz graphics card, DirectX 5.0, 350 MB HD space, All DirectX-compatible sound cards

Test System:

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

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