Put simply, Blackwood Crossing is a beautifully looking, large story-driven adventure game with puzzle elements. The main characters are two orphans named Finn and Scarlett, and the story takes place in a dream world of sorts that Finn has created as a way to show Scarlett how he feels.
You play as Scarlett, a teenage girl, who wakes up on a train that appears to have been summoned into existence by her younger brother. This is no normal train: it's full of fragments of the past, fire that doesn't really burn, and many other magical, ominous things. There is definitely a mystery to be solved there -summoning trains and fire out of thin air are unusual abilities, to say the least- but that's not the part of the story that ended up being the most interesting to me.
Blackwood Crossing will be available early this year. Keep an eye on it on it's Steam page. The game is being developed by PaperSeven LTD and published by Vision Games Publishing LTD.
Finn has created a dangerous and volatile world and it's obvious that he is very angry with his sister. The best part of the story, for me at least, was figuring out what got Finn upset so that I could try to help him get through it. This is the best example of how good the writing is. You see, Finn starts out hostile and even a little cruel, and the situation he has placed his sister in feels very dangerous. Ordinarily, I think I would have considered him to be the "bad guy" of this game. But small bits of conversation here and there showed me that it's really not that clear-cut. He feels hurt and abandoned, and as he is still a child, he simply doesn't know how to deal with what he's been through in a more constructive manner.
This is a game that, most of the time, feels more like an interactive story. Thankfully, that story is a good one. It's intriguing, emotional, and very relatable. The main theme here is a loss, and it was portrayed very realistically. It was made clear very early on that Finn and Scarlett dealt with their grief in very different ways, which, ultimately, led to them growing apart a great deal.
The gameplay of Blackwood Crossing is made up of various types of light puzzles. These are very easy to figure out, and they don't pose much of a challenge. I think most people won't mind this, though, because the puzzles are not the main attraction here. They are used in clever ways to drive the plot forward and offer the player an idea of what transpired before Scarlett woke up on the train. Much of the first section of the game is focused on listening to short spoken lines and piecing them together into coherent conversations. These do a great job of explaining how Finn and Scarlett became orphans, and how they ended up growing apart.
I have only been offered the demo of the game to write this review since the game hasn't been released yet, so I don't know how things play out in the rest of the game, and I can't wait to figure out how this story plays out. The demo takes place in a train and most of the puzzles are easy to figure out. Though there are some that are a little harder to get around to. At one point, part of the train was on fire, and I had to put it out. But the fire extinguisher was locked away behind a case locked with a paper lock (I know, right?). I had a rolled up newspaper that I had to light on fire, to burn up the lock. But every time I walked over to the lock with my burning newspaper, it would burn up with no indication why. Turns out I had to close the windows I was passing because it was blowing out the burning newspaper. Easy to figure out, if some sort of inner dialogue was put in the game here.
audio and video
The game looks amazing. The scenes this game takes place in are full of atmosphere and look like they've come right out of an indie mystery movie. The entire game feels like a movie, and that's what makes it work! You can't run, sneak past objects or jump, you just have to play along with the story and see every stunning scene it takes place in.
The sound is done really well. Though the inner voice comments can get a bit repetitive, the help builds the story to where it is now. Background noises and the music help you pull you into the story. It's hard to find a downside to this game!
Like I mentioned earlier, I was only able to play the demo for this game, but I have to say that if you like story-driven, narrative adventures about people and relationships such as Gone Home, Dear Esther, and Firewatch, there’s a good chance you’re going to have a great time with Blackwood Crossing. The graphics look stunning, the story is amazing and the style just fits the theme.
The game needed some more love, in my opinion, to get a perfect score, though. The puzzles are not intuitive. A thing you would expect from an adventure game. Voice acting you hear "in your mind" gets repetitive, and some puzzles could be a bit harder in order to make it fun. But if you're looking for a fun game that isn't too hard with a great story, this is the game for you!
Right now I would score it 8 / 10 but this is just a preview, not a review :-).
|+ Beautiful graphics||– Rather an interactive story instead of an adventure|
|+ Great story||– Puzzles are not engaging|
|+ Fun to play, not too hard||– Repetitive voice acting|
|+ Good sound||– Not too hard|