Developed by:Wadjet Eye Games Published by:Wadjet Eye Games Genre(s):
  • Adventure
  • Platform:
  • PC
  • Cost:$14.99 ESRB Rating:RATING PENDING Players:1 Release date:October 12, 2011 Reviewed on:PC

    Blackwell Deception

    Late last year Wadjet Eye games released the retro, 32-bit graphic, mystery adventure, Blackwell Deception. This is the fourth installment of the Blackwell series and it features Ms. Blackwell herself, Rosangela, and her 1920’s spirit guide Joey Mallone. They are going about their regular occupation of “spiritual consultants” helping lost spirits (or spooks as Joey calls them) accept their deaths and move on from this world. Upon finishing another job, Rosangela gets a phone call from an old acquaintance asking for help with an upcoming newspaper article featuring the somewhat less than genuine street psychic business. Being a former journalist and an authentic psychic herself, Rosa takes up the invitation and this is when the real story begins. You’ll have to use your detective skills to help Rosa investigate all of her leads in order to get to the bottom of this mystery.

    Before we get too deep into the story, let’s talk gameplay. You begin the game with a tutorial that will walk you though the controls and puzzle solving process. It is pretty much an example case but you will need to solve it in order to begin the real story. Most everything worked in a straight forward manor except for the fact that if you make certain choices while playing the tutorial, you may omit some of the basic game directions. Many of these can be found through the help menu, but some you will just have to figure out on your own if your actions do not prompt the related directional response. For example, the first direction you receive informs you that you are able to control your character by clicking on destinations with the left mouse button. You have the option to play as Rosa or Joey, toggling between them by either pressing the tab key or selecting their initials from a drop-down task bar at the top of the screen. The first time I played the game I chose an action that required Joey instead of Rosa, the prompt popped up to tell me to switch, but it did not mention how to access the task bar. Similarly, you would not have been told you could switch characters in the first place if you did not perform that particular action. Again, this slight hiccup didn’t mar the game or prevent my progression it just made the start a little more complicated than necessary. A more guided walkthrough could have improved the tutorial.

    Back to the task bar, in addition to a mode for character switching, the task bar also includes the preferences, game save options, an icon to access Rosa’s phone and an inventory of any items that you might acquire during your investigation. Left-clicking the items in the inventory will allow you to select them for use on other objects and right-clicking them will allow to you look at them; i.e. clicking on Rosa’s business card makes her look at it and give a verbal description of it. The right and left clicking convention also works for items outside of the task bar including other people. Though, when interacting with other people you’ll usually have multiple verbal responses that pop up on the bottom of the screen for you to choose from. None of these mechanics are really new to the genre and mainly that’s because they work well for just about any point-and-click game. The only improvement that could be made concerning these aspects would be actually accessing the task bar. It will remain hidden unless you mouse over the top of the screen, at which point it will drop down. Problem here is if you have an item or something that is at the top of the screen, the task bar will keep dropping down every time you try to select it. Luckily, this was not a regular occurrence, since there weren’t too many objects of interest at the top of any particular screen. Although, it may have been more helpful to have a hotkey to bring up the inventory and another one to access the saving options, game preferences, or help menu.

    Continuing past the regular movement and interaction aspects of the gameplay, we move onto the mechanics for compiling clues to decipher and solve puzzles. May I introduce you to the “MyPhone.” Again, most mystery adventure titles have some sort of mechanic that allows you to combine your observations in order to form new clues and ultimately progress the story. Although I appreciate the humorous smartphone usage (and name), I was a little disappointed with the MyPhone. Let me first explain how it is used. The MyPhone comes equipped with all the goodies smartphones have to offer, such as wireless internet, mobile email, the “Oogle” search engine, and a “Note Collector” app. This application compiles any new clue into a notebook-like interface on the MyPhone. When new evidence is discovered, an indicator usually pops up at the bottom of the screen telling you that a note has been added to Rosa’s phone. Once you open the app, you can view each note and the information is presented as a miniature summary. In order to generate new clues, you can select any two existing notes and give Rosa the chance to think about the evidence associated with them. If the two notes logically match up, Rosa will make a new conclusion and a new note is added to the collection.

    The Notes app isn’t the only way to generate clues though. You can also utilize the Oogle web search and type in names, places, or other queries to uncover more useful information. At first I was pretty excited about this rather modern approach to sleuthing. I mean really, how many times have you played a mystery adventure game and wished that your character would just goo…I mean web search a clue so you can progress the story already? Unfortunately, the Oogling didn’t really give you this option either. It worked very well for looking up specific names or places, but if you were to think slightly ahead and try to search for something that Rosa hasn’t quite caught onto yet, your search will return too many entries. This leaves Rosa overwhelmed and she’ll choose to “pretend that she didn’t look that up.” Now this is a nice way to see that you are on the right track, but at times it was just as frustrating to search for something that had no results as it was to get “too many” and still not be able to make a solid conclusion. Again this didn’t happen enough to hinder the overall gaming experience, but allowing you to make more logical use of the search engine would have enhanced the investigation process.

    Now moving past the gaming mechanics, let us consider the story. Although certain aspects of it were a little predictable, the journey to confirm your suspicions was still pretty fun. The climax of the game could have been a bit more engaging. One of the few times that I was completely stuck on what to do next just happen to directly coincide with the climax, making it less exciting. And as far as the mystery went, one of the more mysterious parts of the story is left unresolved. I will say this could make for good opportunity to continue the series with another installment, but it left me feeling like this present game was more episodic in nature.

    The voice acting and music really helped to enhance the game overall. The distinct personalities of the characters shown through the voice overs and their interactions with one another were normally quite entertaining, especially Joey and Rosa. Hearing Rosa try not to respond to Joey’s smart remarks while questioning a suspect, who obviously can not see Joey or hear those remarks, was rather comical. The music was normal bluesy and helped to create the feel of a 1920’s black and white mystery movie. And even though the setting of the story was in the present, something about blues just makes you think “mystery”!

    Blackwell Deception was a neat game with charming voice overs and a decent story. Although the graphics are not the latest and greatest,  the retro 2-D visuals were rather detailed and very well executed. Being able to play as both Joey and Rosa was an innovation for the series and made for some decent puzzle solving. I also appreciated how the two would describe different objects. Joey, being from the early 1900’s, would have no idea what a “strange box” would be, but after asking Rosa to examine it you would find out that the box was a laptop. Unfortunately, the game wasn’t as fun as it could have been by making more creative puzzles and allowing the puzzle solving system to be more compelling. However, the game is definitely worth a play especially with such a reasonable price tag. I would recommend the buy, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it a spectacular title.



    Other than a few hiccups here and there, it plays just like a good point-and-click should



    The 32-bit graphics were well done and gave the game a retro feel, in a good way.



    From the music to the voices, it all sounded great to me!

    What's New:


    A new story for the series and you get to play as both Rosa and Joey, but that’s about all that is new here.

    Replay Value:


    Not too much incentive to replay mystery point-and-click games since you will already know the outcome, but if you give yourself enough time you’ll probably return to it.

    Final Score:


    © United Front Gaming. All rights reserved. Site design by: 801red