Review: “The Blackwell Convergence” (Computer Game)

2016 Artwork Blackwell Convergence review sketch

Sorry it’s taken me so long to get round to reviewing this game, but I thought that I’d take a look at “The Blackwell Convergence” today. This is the third game in Dave Gilbert’s “Blackwell” series (here are my reviews of the first and the second games).

If you haven’t played the previous two games, then play those first – because this series is meant to be played in order. Some parts of this game might be slightly confusing if you haven’t at least played the second game – although this game does include a recap of some of the backstory.

As I’ve mentioned before, I bought this game as part of the “Blackwell Bundle” collection on GOG back in November when it was on special offer. This collection only contains the first four games in the series though. At the time of writing, the fifth game seems to be sold separately.

Although I’ll try to avoid them, this review may contain some PLOT SPOILERS.

Anyway, let’s take a look at “The Blackwell Convergence”:

Blackwell Convergence - Title Screen

“The Blackwell Convergence” is a short 1990s-style paranormal detective/ paranormal thriller “point and click” adventure game from 2009.

Like in the first game in the series, you (mostly) play as Rosa Blackwell – a medium from New York who helps ghosts to pass into the afterlife by investigating them and convincing them that they’re dead. As usual, you are accompanied by Joey Mallone – a ghostly gumshoe from the 1930s who is somehow linked to the Blackwell family.

The game begins with Rosa and Joey breaking into an abandoned office to solve a case, which also serves as a tutorial level/ cold open for the game. After this case, Rosa realises that she was supposed to meet Nishanti at an art gallery opening party fifteen minutes earlier.

Woo hoo! Art! And it's the GOOD type of modern art (eg: actual paintings) too :)

Woo hoo! Art! And it’s the GOOD type of modern art (eg: actual paintings) too 🙂

Thankfully, Nishanti doesn’t seem to mind that Rosa is late and she introduces her to Monique, a film producer who has had an encounter with the ghost of a recently-deceased actor from her studio. It looks like Rosa and Joey have another case …

Although it may look creepy, this scene is hilarious. Seriously, I love the voice acting in this part.

Although it may look creepy, this scene is hilarious. Seriously, I love the voice acting in this part.

Each game in this series really seems to have it’s own unique “personality” and this one is no different. It’s a cool, artistic detective game with a complex plot.

Although Rosa is the main character again, “The Blackwell Convergence” considerably less depressing in tone than “The Blackwell Legacy” was. This is mainly because, like with Lauren in “Blackwell Unbound”, Rosa now has had more experience with being a paranormal detective and she has a more confident and bold outlook on the world as a result. Yes, there’s actual character development between games here.

Other cool things about this game are the interesting cast of supporting characters, the occasionally witty dialogue and the variety of locations on offer here.

Although many of the locations are still fairly “realistic”, they have more “personality” than the locations in the first two games did.

 If you unlock the special features after completing the game, you'll learn that this location is actually based on a real bar in New York.

If you unlock the special features after completing the game, you’ll learn that this location is actually based on a real bar in New York.

Unfortunately, this amazingly cool place ISN'T a real location though :(

Unfortunately, this amazingly cool place ISN’T a real location though 😦

The main attraction of this game is, as always, the story and it really doesn’t disappoint here. It might just be because I’m an artist, but I loved how the plot of this game revolves around the arts, eccentrics, dreams and other cool stuff.

Although I don’t want to spoil too much, I also really liked the way that the main plot of this game was both heavily connected to the previous two games, but also told a separate story too. It certainly seems like this series has much more of a long-running story arc than I originally expected.

In many ways, it seems like the “Blackwell” series is really getting into it’s stride in this game. The game’s artwork has some subtle improvements and there are a few other subtle changes to the gameplay too.

 Seriously, this place just keeps looking cooler in each game.

Seriously, this place just keeps looking cooler in each game.

Rosa's apartment has been significantly improved too.

Rosa’s apartment has been significantly improved too.

Although most of the gameplay is similar to “Blackwell Unbound”, one major gameplay change is that you no longer need to connect clues using your notebook. However, when researching clues – you have to actually use Rosa’s computer, which is now a lot more interactive than it was in the first game.

Searching for information online is a much larger part of this game than it was in the first game. In some ways, this is fairly cool – although it sometimes means going back and forth to Rosa’s apartment quite a bit, which can get slightly repetitive.

Yes, although this game is set in the 2000s, it's 1990s-influenced visual style also extends to Rosa's website, which looks like it was made in 1996...

Yes, although this game is set in the 2000s, it’s 1990s-influenced visual style also extends to Rosa’s website, which looks like it was made in 1996…

Looking at art-related blogs on a computer in a computer game feels kind of meta though.

Looking at art-related blogs on a computer in a computer game feels kind of meta though.

As for the puzzles, they’re both easier and harder than in the previous two games. As with the previous game in the series, the emphasis is far more on dialogue and detective work than on solving puzzles in “The Blackwell Convergence”. As someone who is terrible at adventure game puzzles, this was absolutely wonderful to see 🙂

Although I only had to consult a walkthrough once or twice, most of the puzzles can be worked out fairly easily – although they still sometimes need to be done in either a very specific way or with fairly precise timing.

For example, at one point in the game, you have to hack into someone’s e-mail account. You can find out their address and password relatively easily, although you have to enter the address in a frustratingly specific way before you can progress (eg: you mustn’t include the site address etc..).

Likewise, there are some puzzles that involve choosing the right combination of dialogue options. Although these can require a bit of trial and error, there are at least a few easily available clues if you’re willing to do a bit of searching beforehand.

Yes, believe it or not, this conversation is actually a puzzle.

Yes, believe it or not, this conversation is actually a puzzle.

In terms of length, this game is fairly similar to the previous two games. In other words, it’ll probably take you between two and three hours (with infrequent walkthrough use) to complete this game.

All in all, I really liked this game. The gameplay has been streamlined slightly, with even more emphasis on detective work. Not only that, it also manages to be both a unique game and yet also a familiar part of the series. It’s less depressing than the previous two games, but it’s also a lot less scarier too. Still, if you want a unique detective/thriller game then you can’t go wrong with this one.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it’d probably get four and half at least.

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