Apr. 9th, 2017

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I was not expecting to be here doing this at this time, but I accidentally fell into playing this game. See, I decided to work though a different adventure game series by this publisher, Wadjet Eye Games. They make a series of games called "the Blackwell [x]", about which I will talk more later. It occured to me that the commentary track on those kept mentioning a particular character was a crossover from this game.

Then an idea struck me: Didn't I own basically all of the Wadjet Eye games? What if I played through their entire catalog this month? Since their first game, The Shivah (you were wondering when I would get to The Shivah?) had been remastered in their newer art style it was no trouble to detour off and play through that. It's very short after all.

It also isn't what I was expecting. I was sort of expecting a game about being a spiritual leader or somesuch when I heard you play as a rabbi. Nnnot so much. This rabbi, Russell Stone, is in a bad place. His synagogue is crumbling to bits and so is his faith. He sounds more like a depressed noir hero than a leader of men, and he knows it.

When a former and extremely estranged synagogue attender dies and leaves him a lot of money, Rabbi Stone decides to use paying a Shivah visit as a front to investigate. He goes in armed with two fists, four years of high school boxing, and a rabbi's greatest power: answering questions with other questions. What kind of man Rabbi Stone is gets answered over the course of a single evening.

For a short first game... this wasn't bad. The commentary track reveals that Dave Gilbert was really conflicted over how MUCH to update the game and left some puzzles he considers problems alone for the sake of authenticity. (He also thinks the characters drone on too much, but I think that's authentic noir myself.) Still I'm pretty much out of things to say that aren't spoilers, so I'll leave it there. On with the Blackwell series, and then it's on to other Wadjet Eye games I guess! Unless I burn out on point and click-- ahahaha no I cannot burn out on point and click adventures.

(Or... can I?)
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The Blackwell games are what I think of as perhaps the biggest success in indie adventure gaming. Starting with a freeware game called "Bestowers of Eternity" back in 2003, the author quickly realized he had the core of a good idea but not quite the execution. He revisited the idea with The Blackwell Legacy, which won all kinds of awards in 2006... and well, from there his business kept going up and up.

Nowadays the author runs Wadjet Eye Games and publishes other people's games as well. It's a real success story and I'm delighted to see it happen.

As to the Blackwell series itself, it's the story of a reclusive shut-in named Rosangela Blackwell who inherits the family legacy: A ghost by the name of Joey Malone. The two of them act as detectives of a sort, finding spirits in trouble and bringing them to safety, helping them move on to whatever afterlife comes next.

Over the course of the series this is explored in -great- length, in just about every possible way. You'll also figure out a LOT of people's PC passwords and get a lot of keys to open a lot of doors. There's a lot of stock adventure game puzzles in here, s'what I'm saying. The difficulty isn't too high and past the first two or so there's a hint system available, so that's okay.

This has long been one of my favorite game series, and finishing it... and make no mistake, this one is DONE ... kinda hurts. It ends so strongly but it also ends kind of sad. But then, every Blackwell game did...

I almost dunno what to say about it. It's difficult to examine this series critically when I've been aware of it for so long. I played Bestowers back in my "I'll try anything on the Adventure Game Studio homepage" days! So... yeah, Wadjet Eye Month rolls on with these excellent five fun but bleak ghost stories. I really look forward to what comes next.


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