Hey, you know what’s fun? Point and click adventures, and they just so happen to work fantastically on ye olde touchscreen, as evidenced by… that one with the ginger FBI lady. Ah! Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller. Good stuff.
Developer Wadjet Eye Games has released a bundle of excellent point and click adventures on the App Store, and the first one I’m checking out is Blackwell 1: Legacy. It’s real good, man. Real good.
Obvious question: “What the hell’s a Blackwell?” From the mind of Dave Gilbert, Blackwell 1: Legacy is the debut entry in a series of five point and click games, the first three being available on the App Store now (Blackwell 2: Unbound, Blackwell 3: Convergence), and the final two heading our way later this year.
Our protagonist here is Rosa Blackwell, and we quickly find her a) mourning the recent death of her aunt (who I believe serves as the protagonist in the prequel, Unbound), b) struggling to gain entry to her building (a slightly odd departure, though arguably par for the crazy point and click course), and c) giving in to the demands of her boss at the local paper and agreeing to cover a spate of teen suicides.
We also learn that Rosa’s aunt and grandmother both had a history of what was perceived to be hereditary mental illness, but before long, we discover that they weren’t talking to themselves; they were talking to – I’m not making this up – the family ghost, Joey Mallone.
Joey’s job, and the job of the family member he’s currently assigned to (in this case Rosa), is to help distressed ghosts pass onto the next realm. He generally speaks to the ghosts, while Rosa takes care of the real-world stuff, like talking to living people and moving stuff around.
As for the tone, Blackwell 1: Legacy is occasionally quite funny (the game plays on the fact that no one else can see Joey), and obviously the concept of a talking ghost detective from the early 20th century is borderline ridiculous, but at the same time we’re dealing with decidedly adult themes here like suicide and mental illness. On the whole, it works pretty well.
In terms of point and click stuff, there are the obligatory points where you’ll get completely and UTTERLY stuck and swear blind that the game is broken, but just remember the notebook in the top left, wherein you can combine information to make deductions about the case; and the computer in Rosa’s room, where you can conduct cyber-research. Easy! (ish).
Finally, there’s a sweet feature here in the form of commentary from Dave Gilbert, who discusses design decisions, regrets five years on from the original release, and the perils of voice acting – among other things.
Speaking of voice acting, it’s pretty delicious for the most part, with Rosa and Joey shining in particular.
And, eh, that’s Blackwell 1: Legacy in a nutshell. You’re looking at a good few hours of gaming meat; maybe five hours give or take, which is pretty impressive considering there are only, like, four locations and a handful of main characters.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go play all the other Blackwell Games. For, eh, “work” purposes. Yes.
- Point and click is awesome
- The voice acting
- The commentary
- Mature themes, but quite funny
- The retro style
- Point and click can be infuriating (not specific to Blackwell)
- What was that bit with the doorman all about?!
Summary: Blackwell 1: Legacy is an interesting point and click adventure, and sets the bar fairly high for the rest of the series. If they’re all as good as this, I’ll be a happy chap indeed.
Developer: Wadjet Eye Games
Price: £1.99 @ App Store
Compatibility: Requires iOS 4.3 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.