• Review: Blackwell series (1-5) [no spoilers]

    From carp@fish.net@21:1/5 to All on Mon Apr 4 05:29:45 2016
    Thank you for your well-written review, Rudi.

    It does sound like one of those series that I'd get hooked on, only to
    become frustrated that I had not found THE pixel that would give me
    THE inventory item that would combine with some other random inventory
    item to give me the ability to progress in the game.

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Rudi@21:1/5 to All on Mon Mar 21 15:22:02 2016
    GOG had the Blackwell series on sale a while back. I decided to grab
    it, although admittedly, by judging from the preview screens the
    graphics were not exactly top-notch - in fact blocky and in all
    fairness, quite ugly.

    Although the series consists of 5 separate games, they really cover
    a joint story arc; and while in principle the games can be played
    individually and/or in random order, it is highly recommended to
    do them all in order. The whole story arc, and characters, their
    background and also motives will be much more understandable
    when you have the information from previous games available.

    Basic premise is quite familiar sounding: a young woman in her early
    20'es starts first experiencing strong headaches, and soon finds out
    that she can see ghosts. We are introduced to a friendly older male
    ghost who is explained to be her "guardian" and guide in spiritual
    dealings.

    She is told that her psychic ability is actually inherited, and she
    shares the same gift and (small spoiler) also the guardian ghost,
    than her late aunt and grandmother.

    First she takes a title of a "Medium", then later in the series her
    title is changed to "Bestower", (although IMHO both seem to be
    somewhat streched). However her mission in life, and purpose of
    her gift, is revealed to be that to help "enstranged souls" -that
    means dead people whose spirits don't realize they are dead - to
    accept their demise and to help them on their journey to the
    afterlife - quite similar setup to the Bruce Willis movie The Sixth
    Sense, or even more closely, one Ricky Gervais movie (forgot the
    name, but he plays a clearvoyant but socially challenged dentist,
    with Tea Leoni as his love interest).

    In the first game you play the girl working her first case, and
    learning her trade. The episode - or more appropriately, chapter-
    is indeed quite short and straightforward, and it nicely introduces
    her tools and gimmicks of the trade quite nicely "on the go".

    In the second game we play her aunt, her predecessor in trade,
    and this episode really expands the history aspect of the family.

    Third thru fifth game are then back to our main protagonist, and
    her eventual acceptance of her role, and her place in the world.

    The story is nicely scripted, the dialogue is witty but not obnoxious
    at best, and you really get to like the main characters. However
    the puzzles are of the usual point-at-odd-pixel and find-an-object
    type of things, and to put it nicely, everything can be solved
    in quite simple and logical steps. But if by any chance you get stuck,
    most likely you have missed a crucial object, and will proceed only by
    clicking on every single pixel everywhere to find something previously
    unseen, take it to every place and try it on everything seen - and
    also, combine all objects in your inventory, and collected info in
    your notebook, to open up new avenues to explore.

    This is at times really frustrating since blocky graphics have really
    nothing to do with the overall quality of the puzzles or indeed even
    the story - only that the brute force-type solution makes you want to
    bang your head to the wall...

    All in all, very entertaining series with occasional fireworks and
    celebratory greatness - however with some occasional shortcomings
    due to obvious lack of resources from the developers.
    HOWEVER I am under impression that this series was develpoed
    independently by very small team, and in that respect, deserves
    to be praised for what it already achieves as is.

    Pros:
    -Good scripting, witty and smart(ish) dialogue
    -fun puzzles
    -Independent production

    Cons:
    -really outdated graphics
    -puzzles can be simple and linear
    -shortcomings in both above can cause you to really get stuck

    Overall verdict:
    3+ stars out of 5

    Games seem to be 13.99 aapiece @GOG right now - IIRC I paid
    3.99 for the 1-4 bundle, and 5.99 for the standalone fifth game.
    IMHO not worth 28 euros combined, well maybe for the
    good deed to support independent game developing. But
    really not for the experience.

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From JR Lopez@21:1/5 to ca...@fish.net on Mon Nov 16 04:08:11 2020
    On Monday, April 4, 2016 at 5:30:25 AM UTC-7, ca...@fish.net wrote:
    Thank you for your well-written review, Rudi.

    It does sound like one of those series that I'd get hooked on, only to
    become frustrated that I had not found THE pixel that would give me
    THE inventory item that would combine with some other random inventory
    item to give me the ability to progress in the game.

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)