This month brought us the conclusion to the iOS version of the Wadjet Eye Games, Blackwell Sega with Blackwell: Epiphany, and we have our review here just for you.
We picked up this series a big late in the game and started with the fourth installment Blackwell Deception. Had such a great time playing and was excited for the chance to check out the finale Blackwell Epiphany. So sad the series has come to an end but look forward to going back now and playing through episodes 1-3 very soon.
The Blackwell games are retro-styled adventures developed by Dave Gilbert, who grew up playing Sierra’s Gabriel Knight games and reading New York crime writer Lawrence Block. Each installment has a self-contained plot that can be enjoyed independently, with an overarching series storyline that follows Rosa’s transition from skeptical newbie to seasoned medium. Dave’s indie studio, Wadjet Eye Games, also brought the award-winning Gemini Rue to the App Store.
You continue the trend of the previous games and play as the main character of the story Rosa Blackwell a coffee drinking medium with a family legacy of having the gift of seeing and interacting with ghosts. You use this gift in order to help solve some deep and twisted criminal activity. You also often switch to play Joey Mallone, a spirit who has been tasked to stay attached to your family line and aid you in your adventures of solving seemingly unsolvable mysteries. Of course you have to do all of this and interact with Joey without rousing suspicion and questions from the local authorities.
In Blackwell Epiphany you quickly discover that souls are all of a sudden being ripped apart and killed before they are able to move on to the afterlife. You are devastated by what you saw and are insistent on doing everything you possible can in your power to figure out what is going on with these souls. Joey is equally amazed and shocked by the situation and desperate to find some answers. This journey will bring you in contact with some familiar faces and places from past games.
As a point and click adventure going from PC to Mobile, the transition went seemingly well. Rather than moving a mouse around to click, you use your fingers to access various points on your screen to interact with your environment. You will encounter people, objects and entryways that hold answers and access to the next step in the game. For each object that is able to interact with you are given two options, simply look at it or touch/speak with it. There are several objects scattered around that you can interact with but hold no position in the games progression, nor any part of any puzzle. Many times it is obvious which objects hold no value when the comments the character make come back witty and questioning. It is up to you to piece together the evidence found with the people you encounter in order to get the answers you need to move the story alone. As with previous games, when playing as Joey you are able to access places and areas that Rosa is unable to, liked locked doors, however for the most part you can only read items to find clues. You also have the ability with Joey to blow fairly light items in to a reaching path for Rosa. Of course as Joey you can speak with other ghosts freely regardless of how many living beings are around you, unlike Rosa.
Like with previous Blackwell games the puzzles can seem to be very intrinsic. A lot of them took a while to figure out with several option and conversations checks before pieces came together. One element of the game is the ability to check your notes, which are stored on Rosa’s phone, and combine notes together in order to find connections that lead to new data and clues. Don’t forget this fact because it will save you loads of time in the game. This is a tool that you would have previously learned in the Blackwell series but is really exercised in Epiphany. In addition to combining notes together to find out more information you can also question almost anyone on the items you have discovered. If they know anything they will tell you and add another layer of facts to your research.
The Blackwell series as with other Wadjet Eye games are based on a very retro style of game development. You are provided with an 90s style setting and experience. Compared to some of the screen shots and images I have seen of the first Blackwell game, Epiphany has certainly come a long way, but still holds that retro value that makes the series so enjoyable. As well as the music and sound effects that accompany the storyline.
While not perfect, the voice acting providing in Epiphany proves to be very well done. The actors clearly had an idea of the story they were portraying and truly did express emotions based on the scenes they were living out. There were many returning cast members to reprise their roles that were established as their own. So the characters felt very familiar.
Playing through the storyline once is a pretty fulfilling experience. The storyline is great. While you can certainly pick it up and play from start to finish and enjoy the game whether you have played pervious Blackwell games or not, you do have an overall better experience if you do know a bit about the storyline. There are several jokes and details that only make sense if you have some experience with the characters. However besides achievement hunting, there isn’t much to pull you back into the game once you have played the game through. They did a great job with their achievement listing as there are some that require you to have to play through the game again once more in order to get them as you can only choose one or the other the first time you play.
Now here is the ultimate question, do we recommend the game Blackwell Epiphany to be added to your collection of mobile games to have. Yes! But we also recommend for the ultimate experience, pick up the entire series and start from the beginning. Is it necessary, no, but will provide the most rounded experience as the game was designed to have.
If you are interested in diving deeper and learning more about the series check out the app store links below for the current pricing and game details.
Get all five games in a Blackwell bundle ($14.99)
- Blackwell 1: Legacy ($2.99)
- Blackwell 2: Unbound ($3.99)
- Blackwell 3: Convergence ($3.99)
- Blackwell 4: Deception ($3.99)
- Blackwell 5: Epiphany ($3.99)