As some of you may remember, I have discovered Blackwell Legacy several days ago. Of course, I devoured it like any thirsty gamer would. Also, being tortured by a deep curiosity regarding Rosa’s evolution as a character, I turned towards the next title in the series – Blackwell Unbound.
Those of you looking for what follows next will most likely be a bit disappointed. Blackwell Unbound does not feature Rosa Blackwell at all. This episode is about Lauren Blackwell, Rosa’s aunt and the only thing closest to a family. As you already know from the first episode, Joey the ghost is Rosa’s connection to the spiritual world. It turns out he is more like a family heirloom, passed on from generation to generation. He has tried doing some ghost-busting with Rosa’s grandmother, who was a bit superstitious and ended up going nuts. But he found the perfect companion in Lauren it seems. And I really mean it: in Blackwell Unbound the medium-ghost relationship is much more full of flavor. Lauren treats Joey like a good old friend. They are full of teases, play slap stick jokes on each other and have long talks while Lauren smokes on the balcony. Compared to this, Joey seems to have acted like a protective and somewhat boring uncle with Rosa in Blackwell Legacy.
Blackwell Unbound feels like evolution from all points of view. The atmosphere is grittier, with Lauren herself being an insensitive but determined counter-hero of the masses. Jazz and mad people mingle together on the New York skyline. You no longer feel bothered about puzzles taking you to and fro. And better yet, you can finally talk with Joey whenever no one is watching. No more going back to the apartment. The really cool thing is that now you can switch between Lauren and Joey in exploring the universe. Joey can talk to dead people, go through walls and generate light gusts of wind. It doesn’t sound like much but there will be plenty of places where Lauren will be in need of his skills. It really feels like the two are working together in solving the mysterious cases. In contrast to Blackwell Legacy, where Rosa was always acting as she had to drag a sick puppy by the leash from one NPC to the next.
Gilbert as a designer has matured and seems much more at ease (and playful) with the design experience. There are several Easter Eggs you can enjoy throughout Blackwell Unbound, like looking up key people in the phonebook or taking pictures with your camera. The animations he integrated in the game are much more complex. For example, Lauren will every random now and then light up a cigarette by herself. Although it does look odd when she simply drops unfinished cigarettes on other people’s carpets. Joey fighting with a Charlie “Bird” Parker clone over a saxophone is also unforgettable (Oops! spoiler here). Sure, the engine specific problems that I identified in Blackwell Legacy remain, but this is mostly because, as Gilbert admits, the development of Blackwell Unbound was rushed, mostly out of financial reasons.
Time to sum up though, my stomach is rumbling. If you found Blackwell Legacy interesting and enjoyable in the smallest bit, Blackwell Unbound will surely blow your mind. As for me, I’m heading towards
the light Blackwell Convergence to see how everything ties up.