Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Blackwell Convergence Review

The Blackwell Convergence is the third entry in the Blackwell series by Wadjet Eye Games.  This entry in the popular saga picks up the story started in the last game, and takes it to new heights.

The story finds Rosa learning about an old case that her aunt had taken on 35 years earlier, during the events of Blackwell Unbound.  She and Joey soon discover some of the reasons that led to the events of that game.  They also learn, however, that the case isn't quite as closed as Joey had thought, so it's up to Rosa to try to tie up the loose ends.  The stories in the Blackwell series have always been good, dealing just the right amount of drama and comedy, but this game takes it to new levels.  The drama is heightened, Joey's character is taken to places we haven't yet seen, and some of the mystery of the Blackwell legacy is starting to be revealed.

The game play is once again mainly inventory and dialog puzzles.  However, one of the gameplay staples of the series, the use of the notebook, has been simplified. You no longer have to connect clues in the notebook to make a connection, as investigating a lead will lead to the connections automatically, leading to the option of interrogation on the subject being available in conversation immediately.  The ability to use the internet to search for clues has returned from The Shivah, including the ability to read e-mails. However, the latter just provides an insight into what has happened to some characters since The Blackwell Legacy, and don't come into play through puzzles.

The graphics have once again received a makeover. The graphics are still low resolution, but the background art style is more detailed now, and the character closeups have returned.  The latter is a welcome return, since the character closeups allow for a wider range of emotions than the pixelized character sprites can provide on their own.  With the return however, comes another change, as the character portraits are now presented in a circle. This is a bit jarring at first, but ultimately it makes for a cleaner visual experience.

The music is once again excellent, setting the atmosphere as well as the soundtrack of Blackwell Unbound did before it.  The voices have been vastly improved as well.  The voice actors of Rosa and Joey continue to provide stellar performances, and the rest of the cast is up to the same standards. The voices of old women in this game have improved exponentially, including that of a returning character.  They no longer sound like a young woman trying to hard to do an older voice, and manage to sound much more natural.

The bonus material returns in this game, although they are presented in a different fashion from previous games.  If you turn on the commentary track, if there are now points in the game that have multiple commentary tracks available, you can click on buttons on your screen to hear them.  The bloopers have also returned, but they now have to be selected through the commentary buttons as well.  I have always appreciated these additions to the game, as they were completely optional, and provided insight into what goes on behind the scenes in making the game.  It's good to see that the tradition of including them has returned here.

The Blackwell Convergence is the best Blackwell game yet.  Just about every aspect of the game has improved, from the story, to the art style, and especially the voice work.  There are no grating voices in this game, and both the returning and new actors provide great performances.  The music is once again wonderful as well, providing an excellent accompaniment to the voice work, and setting the tone of the game nicely.  The simplifying of the notebook is a bit disappointing, but that doesn't deter from the rest of the game, as it is an upgrade upon its forerunners in every other way.

Final Verdict:

4 out of 5

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