The Blackwell Deception is the fourth installment of Blackwell series, and it continues to reveal more about the world beyond, alongside Rosa's possibly substantial role of guiding spirits to the next world. We have a case, a mystery and a villain. All is set to pursue the next chapter of the Legacy! The game serves as the triumphant raise of suspense for Rosa's future and a vague epilogue for Joey's ominous background. So far, this is the best game of the whole Blackwell series.
Following the events of the Blackwell Convergence, Rosa and Joey keep doing what they do best; now in a professional context. Our little girl has business cards and all: Rosangela Blackwell, Spiritual Consultant. They do not pace the streets of New York in hopes of finding a case anymore. The case comes and finds them, alongside the trouble attached, of course. Following their recent fiasco - and a particularly unlucky trip to New Jersey - Rosa receives a phone call from an old colleague she had, - back from when she was working for The Village Eye - Jeremy Sams. Apparently, Jeremy now works for The City Post as a reporter and needs Rosa's assistance to either make or break the case he's been working on. Unbeknownst to her, Rosa shall uncover a truth so grim, nothing will ever be the same. Not for her, not for Joey... not anymore.
I recall describing the previous games with certain genres in my review for the Blackwell Convergence. I'd like to keep my tradition and describe the Blackwell Deception as the season finale for your favorite TV series. It drives you to the point that you bite on your fingers, expecting for the grand climax you are about to face, then... you realize that there shall be a next season for your questions to be answered, so you are left high and dry, craving for more! The aspects of Rosa's ability, the so-far carefully shrouded past of Joey, their omnipresent yet mysterious bond, the subtext of Madeleine's intentions, the nature of our former villain, the Countess' madness, the presence of a cult tangled with supernatural forces: they are all scattered as bird crumbs for you to follow!
Our already familiar characters now completed their evolution and possess full-fledged personalities. Rosa is strong, real and persistent. She takes shots, makes calls and chases leads just like old Lauren Blackwell did. As a completely differentiating factor, she never dismisses the contents of her own heart. Nothing would make Miss Blackwell a people's person, but Rosa is still a humanitarian. When someone she cares is hurt, it gets personal. Joey, on the other hand, seems more than an omnipresent source of sarcasm and displeasure now. He cares not only for Rosa, but for many others and tries to suppress the haunting voice of his own consciousness to take the next step ahead. He gets involved in Rosa's life aside from their business, more than ever.
As far as gameplay goes, this game is the combination of all others so far. Combining clues interface is back - with Rosa's phone becoming handier - and puzzles get a bit more item oriented. With some attention to environment and some key words that people keep mentioning, you'll flow through the game. Dialogue puzzles are my favorites to tell the truth, making the people that they work on lively, real and deep. This is also the game that you use Joey to his full potential, more interactively alongside Rosa. Commentary and bloopers are joyful options that we anticipate now. Graphics are also at their best display possible for the given art style. The art used for the Void between worlds keeps getting more beautiful in each game, I wonder what Dave Gilbert's team will come up with for the last installment.
Am I creating suspense, or not? Well, this is the whole idea. This whole game is present to create the suspense needed for the last chapter of the series. Countless mysteries are coming to explanation with only the biggest of questions persist, to prepare you to the last big step: the Blackwell Epiphany, the last installment of the remarkable Blackwell series.
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I purchased Blackwell Deception as part of the Indie Royale Bundle and to be honest, I didn't know the game beforehand. It's an old school Point and Click graphic adventure, a genre that's lacking nowadays. No need to say it far exceeded my expectations. I hadn't played a P n' C Adventure this good since the Chzo Mythos collection by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw. Surely there are other great recent games like the Secret of Monkey Island HD remakes, Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse or Hector: Badge of Carnage but they're nothing new. On the other hand, Blackwell Deception is a breeze of fresh air. If I had to describe it I'd say it is a mixture between The Secret of Monkey Island (the boat segment is clearly inspired by the Pirate LeChuck), Maniac Mansion (the supernatural part of the game), Broken Sword (the ambience) and Beneath a Steel Sky (the gadgets Rosa uses, the disco scenario). The characters are well built and the side dialogues make you know them better if you give the effort. By the end of the game you will really care about what happens to the protagonists (hint on a sequel) . The puzzles are inventive and well thought-out even though I would have liked to see more item combinations. The "switch character" system can become a little confusing in the not so obvious bits because you'll need to analyze the effect Rosangela and her "spiritual guide" have in each single object to figure out a solution. There's one particular puzzle where you'll need to click the same object for an indetermined amount of times until you succeed, it's kind of random so you might get stuck in that part for some minutes, but it's really nothing serious. The soundtrack is excellent, the trumpet songs reminded me of Dire Straits final studio album On Every Street. The game has some replay value, you will probably miss 2 achievements during the first playthrough and then you still have the commentary mode to finish. I got BD for about 4€ with 3 other games (AVSEQ, Oil Rush and To The Moon) so I consider it was a hell of a deal. Unfortunately I started playing the Blackwell saga from the fourth chapter so I didn't know much about characters' backgrounds/side stories but that's not the game's fault. I've bought The Blackwell Bundle from Steam since then. I'd recommend this saga to any Graphic Adventure enthusiast.
The fouth installment builds up on all the positive from the previous games. I find the story to be the best yet, with some parts being especially touching. There is improvement on the puzzles, most were well-designed and a couple just way cool! Voice acting, characters and music score/sound effects are all excellent. Also, what an ending!
This recommendation is for the whole series. The Blackwell series are a bunch of charming adventure games about a woman that discovers she's actually a spirit medium and with the help of her ghostly assistant is destined to help souls cross to the afterlife. What really makes the games stand out is the writing and characters. The characters are likable and develop over the course of the series, biggest example being the protagonist, Rosa, who starts off as goony social r*tard but as she eventually accepts her family's calling she becomes far more confident and outgoing. The plots for the games make for some real solid supernatural mystery stories and they even take pages from New York City's history books and actually add some lesser known real people from the city's past into the plot. If you like adventure games definitely check these out, especially because the fifth and final game isn't too far away
I also really recommend Primordia and Resonance, which the developer, Wadjet Eye, help publish. I'd make separate recommendations for them, but I own them on GOG so I can't.
First of all, I must say I feel a bit cheated. The game runs natively in 640x480 resolution, but other than the title screen and one unused background mentioned in the commentary mode, all art is point resampled from 320x240. It shows and is such a pity, especially given that the background art used ingame is pre-rendered, so it should be a cinch to up-res it natively.
Also, the whole medium/psychic bashing was extremely heavy handed. I'm all for social commentary, but there's a fine line between this and irrational bashing and I feel this game crosses it at times. Yes, mediums are con artists. This does not mean they feast on child flesh, drink human blood for breakfast, etc, etc.
Speaking of crossing the line - Joey has been getting meaner and meaner with each game and some of his lines here are downright abusive. Not sure how to feel about that.
Other than that, another improvement from previous game. Really loved the implementation of commentary mode, and it actually had some good insights into development this time instead of n-th musing about how Dave Gilbert met this or that voice artist. Being able to use phone to look up clues was amazing, since you had to travel to PC apartment to do that in previous games, killing pacing in the process.
Some nice, simple puzzles - nothing akin to Donkey Cart puzzle in Discworld or Cat's Mustache from Gabriel Knight 3, everything was really logical. A few conversation puzzles as well, and few instances of needing to combine clues. Good hint system if you ever get stuck, although I still had to look some things online once or twice - though take it with a grain of salt, since I never was good with actual adventure game 'gameplay' - I play them mostly for story/conversations.
“Spiritual services, huh? Why do I always end up with the nuts?”
Blackwell Deception is the fourth of five parts in the Blackwell series. In comparison to the predecessors the atmosphere and story are presented in a more sinister way. Another strong point is the development of the charming characters.
The ability of combining clues is reinstated. Another improvement is the introduction of the mobile phone, which allows you to search for clues and information on the run, instead of travelling to the PC in your apartment.
In addition, the commentary mode has been improved by providing icons on the screen you can click upon, resulting in a less intrusive way of telling background information.
Overview: Blackwell Deception is the forth installment in my favorite point-and-click adventure series in this century. The Blackwell series definitely has a special place in my heart. Deception tells the story of Rosangela Blackwell, a not-so-novice medium, and Joey, a spirit stuck with the Blackwell family, and they both go about solving mysteries in NYC and investigating cases related to ghosts who couldn't move on to the afterlife.
Despite having ghosts and all, characters are very realistic, well-developed, deep, interesting, funny, and loveable
The story is interesting and solving the mysteries is really fun
The puzzles are kept to a sober level of difficulty, but there's no handholding, either
The dialogues and the voice acting are really outstanding, I can't stress it enough. And this game has no problems with different volumes like its prequel.
Has a very interesting mechanic in which you combine clues instead of just items to solve puzzles, and that works really well with the investigation theme. This feature is even improved in this game.
Once again, you get to control both Rosa and Joey (whose roll is even bigger now), adding a lot to the puzzles
Having the smartphone to do research and call makes the game flow even better than the previous games
Beautiful, beautiful retro graphics
BGM is awesome, probably the best so far in the series, or at least as good as Unbound
No in-game way to change the resolution
Alt+tabbing and alt+escing kinda screw the game (keyboard stops being recognized, some dialogues get cut down in a split second and you can't listen to/read them anymore), so you'll probably have to quit it and load it again to solve it
Bought on: I got it on a trade for another game key/link I had. Its full price is US$ 9,99 (R$ 16,99), and it's been as cheap as 90% off on Steam.
Verdict: This game is the last game in the series I've played so far (will start Epiphany right after I finish this review). Deception is considerably better, longer, and more clever than its prequels. It's really fun and brings you back to old-school adventure games, while still bringing fresh elements to the table. If you're into classic point-and-click games, you most definitely have to try it! I had played it a few years ago and it was still fun to replay it now. Don't forget to play the other titles first! While you could play Deception as a standalone game, you'll miss a lot if you haven't played them.
Congrats, Wadjet Eye-- while the previous Blackwell games play like shoddily made rush-jobs, 'Deception' is a damn fine experience. Bravo! I'm glad to finally be able to recommend something from this series-- just wish it didn't take 3 previous flops to get to this point.
Adding more artists to the repertoire definitely paid off. The change in visual style for the 4th installment in this series is refreshing; all my previous gripes with the art (rough animation, bad perspective/pixelation, flat atmosphere) have all been fixed-- and beautifully. The art/animation in 'Deception' is tight, stylish, and consistent.
The upgrades on sound (FINALLY; a pop filter! ...and proper mixing!) are fantastic. Gameplay is more refined & intuitive; a nicely updated GUI with more preference controls has been added-- even the writing & dialogue/timing are more solid and entertaining.
Newcomers, grab this one! If you're curious about the earlier games, I can only suggest buying the 4-pack Blackwell bundle if Steam offers it on sale again-- otherwise, you're better off watching a "let's play" of the the first three chapters.
There are multiple references to previous storylines that may otherwise be lost on the unfamiliar in 'Deception'-- but all in all, it stands alone as a fun & original supernatural mystery that any adventure gamer can enjoy.