Blackwood Crossing is a story-driven first-person adventure game that offers a bit of 'point and click' to the mix. Developed by the amazing people at PaperSeven, it tells the story of Scarlett, a teenager just trying to live her life and find her place in the world, and her younger brother Finn on a trail ride that just isn’t what it seems. You awake disoriented as Scarlett hearing Finn calling out that you promised to play with him. He requests that you play Simon Says with him and following his order begins a magical journey about love and losses in life. Throughout the game, you meet a variety of characters, including your late parents, and along the way they enrich the story and express the details of your relationship with Finn and uncover the inner anguishes of his childhood.
The majority of the game will be spent walking around, listening to stories, collecting and interacting with items, and occasionally having moments where you must solve a puzzle. There are no enemies or deaths in this title, offering more of a mellow experience with intriguing dialogue and heart-wrenching moments around every turn. The moments of ‘combat’ are few and far in between and usually only task you with moving an object from one side of the screen to another or destroying a strange shadow-like substance known as an Umbra.
Now this mysterious train ride would not be complete without some extraordinary abilities that bend the very fabric of Scarlett’s reality. These abilities allow Scarlett to bring items to life, control the will of fire, and pull Umbra apart. These abilities are your tools to complete all of the puzzles in the game. With these skills and a little exploration, the puzzles will fall together in a brilliant turn of events.
The visual aesthetics of Blackwood Crossing provide a beautiful cartoon-inspired design that pair greatly with the tone of the game. The bizarre and supernatural aspects offered would not fit right with a realistic graphic style. Better yet, the nature of the game allows for more creativity in the world and the characters in it. Masks are a big thing in this title and while they could have been achieved in photorealism, it would not have the same charm presented here. The music is very atmospheric and excels at providing the spooky and mysterious ambiance that PaperSeven tried to implement. The game lacks a variety gameplay mechanics, but these attributes are able to shine above this and provide a complete experience that excels at what it does.
My experience with Blackwood Crossing was exceptionally great. I am personally a big fan of story-driven games as well as point and click adventures so this title was right up my alley. I didn’t know what to expect of this game, but I was quickly engrossed in the story and the relationship that Scarlett and Finn had growing up. I reviewed a title, Virginia, a while back that was focused on the player’s interpretation of the events taking place in the game. Blackwood Crossing has a very similar aspect but on a smaller scale. I believe that the moral of this story is to cherish the moments that you have with people in your life and consider the other side of the story and how they may view the situation. This is extremely prevalent when Scarlett is trying to grow up and starting dating another character, Cameron, which creates an emotional rift between the two.
I really enjoyed this title and have few issues with the experience. My biggest complaint with this title is the length. I played through the game twice in a little under four hours. You heard me right, twice! The second playthrough was faster as I knew what I was doing and could finish the puzzles rather quickly, but it still took me around an hour and a half on the second playthrough. That means that if you only play through this title once, you will only get around three hours of gameplay out of it and that is rather low in my eyes (and I did everything the game had to offer).
In the end, Blackwood Crossing is a phenomenal title with very little flaws. I would recommend this title to anyone interested in bizarre and weird occurrences, or even for someone who is looking for a really good story. The game is priced at $16 USD and with the limited content that might be a bit much unless you are really interested. I would recommend waiting for a sale if the length is an issue, but regardless you do not want to miss out on this one. You would most certainly regret it!
Note: A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of the review.
Final Score: 9.5/10
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