Blackwell (series)

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Blackwell
Blackwell cover.png
Artwork for the Blackwell Bundle compilation.
From left to right: Convergence, Unbound and Legacy.
Developers Wadjet Eye Games
Publishers Wadjet Eye Games
Creators Dave Gilbert
Composers Peter Gresser, Thomas Reign
Platforms Microsoft Windows
First release The Blackwell Legacy
December 23, 2006
Latest release Blackwell Epiphany
April 24, 2014

Blackwell is a series of graphic adventure video games from independent game developer Wadjet Eye Games, created by Dave Gilbert. Five Blackwell games were released from 2006 to 2014: The Blackwell Legacy, Blackwell Unbound, Blackwell Convergence, Blackwell Deception, and Blackwell Epiphany.

Gameplay[edit]

All five games are retro-style point-and-click graphic adventure games.

Games[edit]

The Blackwell Legacy[edit]

The protagonist of the game is Rosangela Blackwell (Rosa), who is a young freelance writer living a solitary life in New York City. Soon after her only relative, aunt Lauren Blackwell, passes, she is asked to write about a suicide in a college dorm. Rosa experiences headaches throughout the day and it culminates in a ghost named Joey Mallone making an appearance in her apartment. He explains that she is a "medium" like her aunt and that her job is to help ghosts that are stuck in the real world "move on". Reluctantly she accepts the explanation and proceeds to solve a case about the girl whose ghost is now haunting a dog park. She soon discovers that the girl is one of three close friends and that two of them have already committed suicide after they summoned a restless ghost with a ouija board. She learns how to and helps the ghost "move on". The third girl also attempts to commit suicide but is taken to the hospital, where Rosa finds her and the restless ghost. She then helps the ghost move on as well.[1]

The game runs under the Adventure Game Studio platform. It was nominated for 4 AGS Awards for games released in 2006 and won the award for Best Character Art.[2] Character art was drawn by Ian 'Big Brother' Schlapfer of Herculean Effort Productions.

Known for its excellent story and voiceovers, the game starred Sande Chen as Rosangela Blackwell and Abe Goldfarb as Joey Mallone. It was re-released in 2011, with Rebecca Whittaker starring as Rosangela (reprising the role from the later games in the series). This was done for consistency with the later games, but also because Dave Gilbert wanted to change some of Rosangela's dialogue, and add some new lines.[3]

The project originally began as Bestowers of Eternity. This game was released as free software in 2003 via the Internet under that title, and gained much popularity. Subsequently it was decided for the project to be extended and redone into a proper commercial product – and thus The Blackwell Legacy was born.

Gilbert has previously stated for the concept of The Shivah that he wanted to do an investigation, but have the hero be someone other than a detective. On a separate occasion, he mentioned that he watched a movie about a medium contacting her spirit guide, and started thinking about what the poor spirit must go through to help this woman. From the union of these two ideas, Joey and Rosa's relationship was born.

The game was first released on December 23, 2006.

Blackwell Unbound[edit]

The second game is a prequel to Legacy and follows the investigations of Rosa's aunt Lauren Blackwell and Joey back in the 70s. They investigate two ghosts – a murdered saxophone player and a murdered woman haunting a construction site of her old apartment building. While investigating the two seemingly unrelated incidents, Lauren discovers that both ghosts have been murdered by the same elderly, homeless woman that calls herself The Countess. She claims that she is a medium like Lauren and is also helping the people move on. But she is in fact mad and is killing them. The duo tries to catch her, but she escapes. Puzzled by The Countess' claims about being a medium, despite the obvious lack of a spirit guide following her, they discover that she is using New Yorker journalist Joseph Mitchell as a spirit guide substitute and kills whoever he writes about. Mitchell himself eventually made the connection himself, and stopped writing all together out of fear of getting anyone else killed. Lauren then convinces Mitchell to write about her to lure The Countess out of hiding. The plan works and she arrives at Lauren's place to kill her, where she is overpowered and Lauren is forced to kill her. At the end of the game, Lauren decides to get in touch with her brother again, despite Joey's misgivings about it.[4]

As with Legacy, Unbound uses the Adventure Game Studio engine. Unbound was originally supposed to be a flashback sequence in the next game, Blackwell Convergence, but it grew so large that it became a game in its own right. The game was nominated for Best Story and won Best Music in the AGS Awards for games released in 2007.[5]

The story features a real person as a character: writer Joseph Mitchell of the New Yorker.

The game was released on September 4, 2007.

Blackwell Convergence[edit]

The third game takes place six months after the events in Legacy. While visiting a gallery viewing, Rosa starts to investigate a possible lead from a director at a film company. She soon finds out that an actor from their recent film has been murdered. Rosa also finds out about an old murder of a researcher whose work was stolen to benefit a rival corporation. Finally, on the gallery's opening night The Countess makes an appearance as a ghost and kills the artist whose paintings are on display. In all three cases, the companies were funded by the venture capitalist firm Meltzer Foundation and Rosa finds out that they benefited greatly from all three deaths. Rosa confronts them and also learns that it was The Countess who did the killings after forming a bond with Charles Meltzer, one of two brothers owning the Meltzer Foundation. He tries to kill Rosa as well, but The Countess' old guide Madeline interferes and Rosa helps her to break the bond between The Countess and Charles Meltzer. Freed from the bond, The Countess tries to take revenge on Charles, but is stopped by Rosa and Joey and Rosa helps her to move on. Rosa learns that The Countess broke her bond with her guide Madeline and soon lost her mind; she then bonded with Joe Gould, later Joseph Mitchell, and finally Charles Meltzer.[6]

This game was originally to be released sometime around June 2008, but was delayed for a variety of reasons. However, the game was released on July 22, 2009 to mostly positive reviews.

Two real people are included in the cast of characters: writer Joseph Mitchell returns, as well as New York eccentric Joe Gould.

Blackwell Deception[edit]

The fourth game focuses on Rosa and Joey again and takes place some time after the third game. Rosa receives a call from her former newspaper employer asking to investigate a case for him. She soon finds out that he has been murdered while investigating a contact given by a psychic Lisa Tenzin. Rosa then proceeds to solve two more murder cases and finds out that Lisa had referred both to a man named Gavin. She confronts the psychic about their deaths and it turns out Gavin had brainwashed her into helping him. Gavin has in fact been "feeding" on their energy to remain immortal. Gavin then captures Rosa and kills Lisa who tries to escape. He brainwashes Rosa into trapping Joey and tries to feed on her. However, Joey escapes and manages to bring Rosa to her senses. As she breaks Gavin's ritual of feeding on her, she accidentally kills him. Since Gavin fed on large amount of Souls he tries to resurrect himself but Lisa's Ghost distracts him. Rosa took advantage and dragged him as well as Lisa's Soul to the Gates where someone unseen stopped Gavin from moving on and, in order to punish Gavin for failing his mission, somehow destroyed his Soul. After Lisa's departure Rosa, confused by her purpose, decides to track down the organization that was behind Gavin and found a full scale "Ghost Investigation" Agency.[7]

The game was released on October 12, 2011. An updated version was released on October 31, 2013. Notably, this version changed the character portraits from the original comic-style, to a more realistic style matching the other games in the series.

Blackwell Epiphany[edit]

Blackwell Epiphany is the fifth and final game in the series. It was released on April 24, 2014.[8]

Staff[edit]

Task Game
The Blackwell Legacy Blackwell Unbound Blackwell Convergence Blackwell Deception Blackwell Epiphany
Coding & Writing Dave Gilbert
Character Art Ian Schlaepfer Erin Robinson Shane Stevens Ben Chandler
Background Art Tom Scary, Chris Femo Luminous Arts, Karen Petrasko Indrek Plavutski Ben Chandler
Additional Art Eyal Jammer Eyal Jammer, Julie Gilberg Eyal Jammer, Jenna Leder Shane Stevens, Eyal Jammer, Jenna Leder, Emma Grahn, Jose Navarro, Luminous Arts, Ian Schlaepfer
Music Peter Gresser Thomas Regin

Characters and voice actors[edit]

Character Game
The Blackwell Legacy Blackwell Unbound Blackwell Convergence Blackwell Deception Blackwell Epiphany
Rosangela Blackwell Sande Chen (original)
Rebecca Whittaker (re-release)
  Rebecca Whittaker
Joey Mallone Abe Goldfarb
Kelly Hawthorne Chen-yung Hsu  
Adrian Tucker Thomas Tucker  
Nishanthi Sharma Ruth Weber   Nonie Craige  
Jim Burdo Matt Garnder  
Dr. Quentin Joe Rodriguez   Joe Rodriguez
Hospital Guard Francisco Gonzalez  
Alli Montego Chen-yung Hsu  
Bob Dave Dodson  
Susan Lee Jennifer Estaris  
The Deacon John Swist  
Demon Dave Gilbert  
Moti Cooper Kaplan  
Lauren Blackwell   Dani Marco   Dani Marco
Isaac Brown   Daryl Lathon  
Mavis Wilcox   Chen-Young Hsu  
The Countess   Stephanie Cox-Williams Ronica Reddick   Sarah Elmaleh
Cecil Sharpe   Daryl Lathon  
Dwayne   Francisco Gonzalez  
Joseph Mitchell   Dave Gilbert  
Harriet Sherman   Shelly Smith  
Sam Durkin   Francisco Gonzalez   Francisco Gonzalez
Jack Blackwell   Dave Gilbert  
Columbia Operator   Julia Detar  
New York Receptionist   Brandon Van Slyke  
Allen Reiken   Brian Silliman  
Josie Park   Shelly Smith-Shenoy  
Claude Urdin   Daryl Lathon  
Monique Stahlman   Ronica Reddick  
Minetta Bartender   Dave Gilbert  
Paul Meltzer   Marcus Weems  
Frank Lyons   Francisco Gonzalez  
Charlie Meltzer   Dave Gilbert  
Madeline   Nonie Craige Jennifer Holmes Miranda Gauvin
Joe Gould   Marcus Weems  
Martin Goldwater   Marcus Weems  
Ryan Jacobs   Michael Gambino  
Jeremy Sams   Edward Bauer  
Madison Haines   Shelly Shenoy  
Penelope Haines   Jennifer Holmes  
Nurse   Mercedes Rose  
Receptionist   Julia Doolittle  
Danny Marconi   Dave Gilbert  
Lisa Tenzin   Rachel Rydzewski  
Tiffany Walters   Miranda Gauvin  
Rachel Abu   Jennifer Holmes  
Sterling   Dave Gilbert  
Kenneth Sharpe   Daryl Lathon  
Elaine Appleton   Mercedes Rose  
Jamie Graham   Sara Elmaleh  
Seb Frederick   Dave Gilbert  
Gavin   Brian Silliman  
Mary Meehan   Erin Winebark
George Ostin   Jim Mullins
Ostin's Doorman   Eli Green
Gabriel Ullman   Jim Mullins
Abacus Clerk   Corbett Villarrial
Emil Haskins   Andy Chmelko
Michael Cooper   Phillip Callen
Lia Pierro   Drea Lorriane
Kendra Haskins   Samantha Rosen
Cory Palmer   Andy Chmelko
Peter Fielding   Dave Gilbert
Tanya Corsey   Manini Gputa
Heather Goffstein   Shelly Shenoy
Maggie Fielding   Anna Berry
Jim Peebles   Jim Mullins
Ray   Kenwyn Dapo
Valantini Bartender   April-Ann Tass
Benjiro Hatori   Dave Gilbert

Reception[edit]

Adventure Gamers gave 3.5/5 stars to all four games.[9][10][11][12]

GameZebo gave 3.5/5 stars to Legacy and Unbound, 4/5 stars to Convergence, and 4.5/5 stars to Deception.[13][14][15][16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wadjet Eye Games (23 December 2006). The Blackwell Legacy. PC. 
  2. ^ http://americangirlscouts.org/agswiki/AGS_Awards_2006
  3. ^ Gilbert, Dave. "Another question for the fans: Blackwell upgraded!". Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
  4. ^ Wadjet Eye Games (4 September 2007). Blackwell Unbound. PC. 
  5. ^ http://americangirlscouts.org/agswiki/AGS_Awards_2007
  6. ^ Wadjet Eye Games (22 July 2009). Blackwell Convergence. PC. 
  7. ^ Wadjet Eye Games (12 October 2011). Blackwell Deception. PC. 
  8. ^ Schulenberg, Thomas (March 15, 2014). "Pre-order Blackwell Epiphany for April 24, become a medium". Joystiq. Retrieved April 6, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Review of Blackwell Legacy". Adventure Gamers. Retrieved April 23, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Review of Blackwell Unbound". Adventure Gamers. Retrieved April 23, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Review of Blackwell Convergence". Adventure Gamers. Retrieved April 23, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Review of Blackwell Deception". Adventure Gamers. Retrieved April 23, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Review of Blackwell Legacy". GameZebo. Retrieved April 23, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Review of Blackwell Unbound". GameZebo. Retrieved April 23, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Review of Blackwell Convergence". GameZebo. Retrieved April 23, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Review of Blackwell Deception". GameZebo. Retrieved April 23, 2014. 

External links[edit]