The Blackwell Epiphany
Hands-On Preview
"I've played the first couple of hours of The Blackwell Epiphany, and it left me dying to play the rest."

When I played the Blackwell point & click adventure games last year, I was very taken with their story. I particularly liked the series' overarching story of Rosangela Blackwell and her family's connection to the ghosts of those who have passed on, but are unable to come to grips with their situation. The Blackwell's job is to help those ghosts, like it or not, move on to their eternal rest. To do so, they rely on just their wits and the services of one particular ghost named Joey, who doesn't seem to be allowed to move on whether he likes it or not. Throughout the four existing games, Joey's identity and why he and the Blackwells share this work has been hinted at, but fans have been left waiting for real answers.

Fortunately, for those of us who have been waiting, the fifth and final game in the series comes out later this month, and it promises to fill us in on everything we've been waiting to learn. And the developers say it will be the longest game in the series, which is great news. I've played the first couple of hours of The Blackwell Epiphany, and it left me dying to play the rest. It continues to use the pixelated graphical style of its predecessors, which is as fitting a tribute as ever to the point & click adventure genre's heyday, and I really like the little details in Epiphany's backgrounds. It also has the same great voice actors for the main cast and the same great writing, and the puzzles available in the preview build I played were excellent, with a definite jump in logic over previous games in the series. For example, although I needed to combine clues in my notebook like before, all of the combinations made sense. I did still need to talk to an NPC multiple times on the same topic in order to learn all they'd tell me, but that was only a problem in previous games because I didn't know that doing so was necessary.

The Blackwell Epiphany is clearly directed at those who have already played the rest of the series — jumping into this one without playing those that have gone before would probably be a lot less fun. The good news is that, if you like the point & click genre and haven't played the Blackwell games, I definitely recommend them. As my review discusses, they're not flawless, but they are the kind of experience that's more than the sum of their parts. If you hurry, you might even have enough time to make it through all four of them before The Blackwell Epiphany is released on April 24.

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