All good things come to an end, but will it be a happy end and satisfying conclusion to the series with Wadjet Eye Games’ The Blackwell Epiphany?
The Blackwell Epiphany
(USA 2014, developer/publisher: Wadjet Eye Games, platform: PC)
The souls of people are ripped apart, and it’s up to Joey and Rosa to find out who’s behind this and stop the person before it’s apocalypse time.
Many stories to tell and squeeze in
Being the final part in the storyline of the Blackwell legacy, plot development is rather excellent and only suffers in the last scenes with an overblown sci-fi theme. Overall, it’s a suspenseful, multi-layered story, and it’s also a bit too ambitious, as it loses itself in many little life stories of characters. Of course, this was also present to a certain degree in past games. One could even say it was a story of many people’s stories, and they’re excellently written here as well. But this often results in an information overload, the writing being not focused enough: too many names to remember and too many leads to follow. Discovering so many ghosts in fact that it feels as if the dead outnumber the living in the city. However, there are also a few nods to Joey’s past, making him more relatable, and a very touching ending which makes up for the often neverending dialogue scenes.
So much to do and doing it all over again
What the storytelling achieves in, the gameplay fails to deliver, i.e. variety. Even with the longest playtime of around 5 hours and the e-mail system finally being part of the puzzle design instead of being just a filler of random jokes and references, the puzzles are often more obscure than necessary (although the co-op play between Joey and Rosa is put to better use), while too many strands of narrative result in a repetitive find-clue-go-to-location-talk-to-person rinse-repeat gameplay.
Technically getting (c)old
The game still suffers from unintentionally funny character portrait expressions and a few not-so-good voice actors. But this time, it can also boast with weather effects like snow, which is especially nice to look at when characters leave behind footprints. The score is again well-executed, even if it’s not that memorable. But it serves its purpose to convey sufficient emotions in the scenes.
Final part of a great act
Developing the final installment in a long-running series is no easy thing to do, but Wadjet Eye Games manages to pull this off with The Blackwell Epiphany, at least to a higher degree in the storytelling department. With mature themes like drug abuse and domestic violence, it is also one of the darkest games, even if the sci-fi elements can alienate some people. The overall familiar investigation gameplay is used to death here, which is a shame really, because there could have been enough opportunities to create more inventive puzzles. Still, this is a very accomplished conclusion to a long-running series in narrative terms.
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