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The Blackwell Deception
Posted On 10/31/2011
The Blackwell Deceptions is the next episode of Dave Gilbert's Blackwell series of graphic adventures, starring Rosangela Blackwell, a somewhat geeky young woman living alone in New York, and her spirit guide, Joey, a wisecracking, fedora-wearing ghost from the 1940s. As in the previous episodes -- The Blackwell Legacy and Blackwell Unbound -- their job is to investigate the mysteries around the ghosts they encounter, confront them with their own deaths, and send them on to the afterlife.
Gilbert's first graphic adventure, The Shivah had very crude graphics and was quite short, but displayed both his story-telling chops and imagination; in the years since, he has gone from strength to strength. The Blackwell Deception is the richest of his games yet; longer (6-10 hours of gameplay), with excellent voice acting, and graphics that, if still of the early 90s, are extremely well executed of their kind. The credits also show this gradual progress; from being a lone-wolf developer, Gilbert has become a sort of impresario on a small scale, enlisting other talents to expand the scope, graphical quality, and depth of his games.
The Blackwell Deception does not require familiarity with the previous games in the series, although those who have played them will have a better sense of the evolving story arc for both Rosangela and Joey. In this new installment, Joey's backstory is fleshed out a little bit, and he gets to be more than just a sidekick. As with the previous games, you switch between the two characters with Tab, and each has abilities the other does not: Joey, being a ghost, can't interact much with the physical world, but can move through locked doors or other obstacles to investigate what's behind them, and can converse with the ghosts.
A new feature of the world is introduced, and will surely be elaborated in later installments; a sort of organization of evil psychics, who are not at all pleased with Rosangela's activities. Just as much of the best writing in mysteries involves a series of novels set around the same protagonist, we can see Gilbert shaping the Blackwell series into the same kind of ongoing evolution.
If you have any interest in graphic adventures, you won't be disappointed by this game.