The Blackwell Epiphany
The Blackwell Epiphany is the fifth and final game in the Blackwell Series of graphic adventures by Wadjet Eye Games, written and designed by Dave Gilbert. I've spent the last week playing through the entire series in anticipation of the release, and here is my opinion!
First a little history for newcomers to the series; The Blackwell Series tells the story of Rosangela Blackwell, reluctant New York medium, and her spirit guide Joey Mallone - a snarky but caring ghost from the 1920s-'30s.
Together they work to solve mysteries and send lost souls on to their next destination, freeing them from the troubles that bind them to our plane of existence. To achieve this, Joey and Rosangela must first make the spirits aware of their passing, and then use Joey's necktie (really!) to transport them to freedom.
So what about Epiphany? Rosangela and Joey start outside an abandoned building, waiting to meet a police detective who needs their help. After being stood up, they take the investigation into their own hands, only to discover that a fate worse than death awaits some of the spooks that they are trying to help. So begins a race against time as the intrepid duo attempt to discover who or what is causing these horrific events. In the meantime they must deal with unhelpful police, dodgy priests and echoes from their own complicated pasts.
Epiphany is in keeping graphically with the other games in the series, the low resolution art harking back to the golden era of point and click adventure games, and as with the other games the voice acting is simply wonderful. Each character is voiced with love and care, bringing the protagonists to life, and developing a real connection with the player.
This connection with the player and an investment in the characters is never more apparent than in the end game of Epiphany. Without spoilers, I can say that Dave Gilbert handles the resolution of the series deftly, with grace and with a real emotional kick. Loose ends are tied up neatly, character arcs completed, and the whole thing just feels right.
It isn't only the ending that feels complete. The whole game is packed with references and callbacks to earlier games, old characters make appearances, and the relationship between Joey and Rosangela progresses naturally, and events never feel forced.
All in all then, The Blackwell Epiphany is a fantastic, well written and moving game that should take its rightful place in the pantheon of graphic adventure games. Not only do I recommend buying Epiphany, but I recommend buying the whole series and immersing yourself in Rosangela and Joey's story.