Grandest Finale: A Review Of Blackwell Epiphany

a1

So this is what years of making adventure games gets you, huh? This is what the culmination of a well-written series of games looks like? In a time when the sparkle and shine of technical prowess is touted above content, this is what happens when you focus on narrative?

Well, that’s all good news, because Blackwell Epiphany is damn near perfection.

It’s the final game in the developer Wadjet Eye’s remarkable and consistent Blackwell series of supernatural sleuthers, and honestly, it didn’t even need to be this good–it just had to exist as one adventure-ass adventure game and get the baton across the finish line. But it does so with an effortless confidence and charisma that few games could ever hope to rival.

Blackwell Epiphany is revelatory in the ease with which it tells its story, and there will be few games released in 2014 that will match this game with regard to narrative. It’s been a strength of the series, but here, it’s trimmed without an ounce of filler to spare. It would be difficult to give any examples; with regards to the puzzles, there wasn’t a single one that felt superfluous. Everything you do in the game has its purpose, and none of it feels like arbitrary padding.

a2

As a detective drama of sorts, it’s got most of the typical story beats you’d expect, replete with a great central mystery and some shocking occurrences mid-game. In the game, you can assume control of two characters–one human, one spirit. The interplay and dialogue between these two characters is entertaining and helpful to the missions, and their opposing states of corporeality add depth to the point-and-click mechanics.

The pacing in particular is the high point here, and that’s something that’s really difficult to nail in adventure games. It’s an aspect that can be easily ruined by a few puzzles that are too difficult, or backtracking to one too many locations. Blackwell Epiphany wraps everything so neatly into the narrative–without trying to force any “action” and excitement–that these typical problems are non-issues.

Not much else needs said about Blackwell Epiphany. It’s great, no caveats required. Absolutely enrapturing storytelling. The game is a treat unto itself, and while playing the previous entries is not required, fans who have played them should know it ties everything up neatly, too.

Unfortunately, there is one lingering question left for developer Wadjet Eye: What do you do after you’ve arguably mastered a genre?