GameZone's 31 Games of Halloween 2013: Blackwell series
Ghosts are a natural part of Halloween. Whether we're talking about a random dude with a white bed sheet tossed over his head or the spirits of the deceased, ghosts fit in with the October holiday as much as zombies and witches. The Blackwell series of games is based entirely around the supernatural, with its main characters having the ability to act as portals between the worlds of the living and the dead. The series, which spans four titles, isn't exactly terrifying, but it does do a great job of telling an interesting story about the living, the deceased, and the ghosts in between.
If the Blackwell games are maybe a little too serious for your tastes, you can totally check out our previous installment of 31 Games of Halloween, where the spotlight was focused on the creepy yet comical roguelike The Binding of Isaac. Moving on: let's talk ghosts!
Why it stands out
The four games in the Blackwell series are The Blackwell Legacy, Blackwell Unbound, Blackwell Convergence, and Blackwell Deception. The games are all directly linked, and they star a young freelance writer named Rosangela Blackwell, or Rosa. The only exception is Unbound, which takes place years prior to Legacy and tells the story of Rosa's aunt Lauren. The other main character is a smooth-talking ghost named Joey Mallone, who can sometimes add a lighthearted touch to the game but remains serious when necessary.
Before her death, Lauren was a medium — she could see ghosts and was tasked with helping them move on from the world of the living into the spiritual world. Joey acted as her guide and helped her discover leads surrounding a number of ghosts. When Rosa learns of her aunt's passing, she begins to experience weird things. She suffers from massive headaches, and soon Joey appears once again, telling Rosa that her aunt's gift of seeing the dead has been passed down to her. Because ya know, money's so overrated and no one wants that.
The Blackwell games are fairly old school in their design despite the series having launched in 2006. The graphics are strictly pixelated, and the gameplay follows a traditional point-and-click adventure format. That's not a bad thing, though, and the fact that the writing remains sharp throughout all four games definitely makes it worth sticking with them to the very end, where you'll uncover mysteries and go deeper into the psyche of Rosa.
Is it scary?
Even though the notion of ghosts sticking around in our world rather than getting their transparent asses to the afterlife is horrific, the Blackwell series is in no way scary. It really doesn't need to be, though. This isn't some collection of ghost stories intended to make it difficult to go to bed at night. Instead, these four stories tell the tale of a young woman who's linked to the ghost world and who seemingly has no way of getting out of it.
Early on, we learn that Rosa's aunt Lauren went insane, and upon further investigation, it appears that her status as a medium was what caused her to lose her mind. When you discover her aunt's fate, you can't help but feel for Rosa, who seems perfectly normal but may just go down the same path. The fact that you play as Rosa and get to know the character pretty well makes it harder to stomach the possibility that she may come to a tragic demise.
Why play it on Halloween?
If you're looking for blatant scares, the Blackwell games probably aren't for you. That said, if you have an appreciation for fun adventure gameplay, but above all else, great writing, all four of the Blackwell games are worth checking out. The second game is one of my favorite adventure games of all time due to its stellar script and awesome characters. However, the entire series is highly enjoyable due to its ability to tell a pleasantly cohesive story.
If you're into ghosts and mystery, the Blackwell titles come together to tell an intriguing tale about the spirit world. It's not exactly the most conventional way to spend the Halloween month, but playing these games is a worthwhile time investment on this most entertaining of holidays.
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