It was in 2006 when players were first introduced to the unusual duo of Rosa and Joey. The two were the stars of Dave Gilbert’s Blackwell series that has seen four titles so far. Finally, eight years later, the series is about to come to its conclusion. Blackwell Epiphany is the fifth and final title and has a lot of attention on it. After all, fans have been waiting years to see how everything ends. Although there have been some moments where the series faltered, Blackwell Epiphany is set to exceed everyone’s expectations.
First, let’s get everyone up to speed with what the Blackwell universe is all about. At the very beginning, we come upon Rosa who has just lost her aunt. Shortly after this event she finds herself having an increasingly intense headache throughout the day. It’s at the moment she can’t take it anymore that a ghost named Joey suddenly appears, disturbing Rosa tremendously. Still, she trusts that she hasn’t gone mad and listens to what he has to say. Apparently, Rosa is a medium and must help stranded ghosts make it to “the other side”.
Saving these ghosts is tougher than it seems. For whatever reason, they never seem to realize they’re dead. It’s up to the player to uncover clues and come up with a way to reveal the harsh truth to them. Over the course of The Blackwell Legacy, Blackwell Unbound, Blackwell Conspiracy, and Blackwell Deception, the duo solved a great deal of ghostly cases. However, it rarely felt as if anything larger was building behind the scenes. There were hints here and there as well as an establishing of a greater issue in Deception, but not much else.
Blackwell Epiphany finally manages to create a Blackwell game that feels like much more than just another entry in a long-running series. This new tone is established very early on, as Rosa and Joey help out a ghost as per usual. Once this introductory task is completed, they witness a murder take place. The dead man’s ghost crops up, terrified and begging for help from Rosa. Before Rosa or Joey can figure out what’s even going on, the ghost is torn in half. Nothing like this has ever happened in a Blackwell game before. Stakes are immense this time around.
Although the characters have grown over the series, both are still fueled by the same personalities and quirks. It also feels like the two have further solidified their friendship beyond their ghost-saving business roles. This time players will get to see Rosa and Joey deal with more difficult cases and emotions than they’ve previously had to tackle. Of course, the one playing the game will have to tough out these scenes as well.
Anyone who has followed the series since its start shall find that Blackwell Epiphany also brings back a lot of old plot points and characters. Without spoiling anything, I can say that certain storylines that seemed to be cut short before are actually reintroduced here. Hopefully players will remember that stuff since it has been a few years since the last game, and longer for earlier entries. If you’ve already got the previous titles it might actually be worth replaying them to refresh yourself on Blackwell history.
Playing through any portion of Blackwell Epiphany feels like returning to a safe space in my gaming life. Outside of the darker, new storyline, everything else feels familiar. The game is still played in a point and click style and features numerous – but never too difficult – puzzles. Both Rosa and Joey have the same charm and voice actors as always. This time there is just more on offer. The game seems to be the longest yet and features a wide variety of locations to explore and characters to meet. Some of them are old friends while others are brand new.
New players might initially feel overwhelmed by the fact that they missed the previous four games in the series. Although Blackwell is expansive, it has also been a series that is very friendly to newcomers. Usually, you can opt to hear some retelling of important past events, or simply pick up on things by listening to discussions. However, there’s enough previous Blackwell lore being dredged up in Blackwell Epiphany that it would probably be best enjoyed by a series fan. If not, enjoy the intense experience as a standalone title! It’ll likely make you want to play the rest of the series, anyhow. It’s hard to believe that the final Blackwell game is almost here. It’s even harder to think that it could possibly appease fans, but that seems exactly what it’s set to do.