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Blackwood Crossing Review
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Blackwood Crossing left a bad first impression on me. You start by waking up mid-train ride to the voice of the main character, Finn. Being honest, I really disliked Finn the first time I met him. His voice was muffled behind closed doors and it sounded like he was peaking the microphone when he started shouting. This was short lived however, as I warmed up to Finn very quickly. The atmosphere is very bright and sets off a nice tone from the get go, as you proceed to walk through an extremely detailed and vibrant environment, Finn would like you to play Simon Says in order to continue. It sort of feels that this was a "seamless tutorial", a way of teaching you mouse control and interaction without breaking the immersion the game's built up. Either way, it makes Finn seem like an actual child. It's a nice introduction to who we're going to be following around and to what he's like. Furthermore, I took great pride when beating a child in Simon Says, even got an achievement for it.

After walking around down narrow corridors for a while, things get creepy. Very creepy.


Rabbit boy shows up throughout the game. After beating the game, I'm still unsure of what or who it's trying to represent. This is the first sign that things aren't as they seem. Which they really aren't, as this game is not set within a discernible reality. It's hard to review the story within a story based game without spoiling anything, so I won't. However, whilst it isn't the most original concept in the world, the characters, the voices, how everyone looks and animates. Everything combines together to create a pretty incredible little narrative.

(When I say little, I mean little. Steam indicates 108 minutes on the game, after beating it and finding most collectables)

The world areas split up into 3 main areas. A train, treehouse and an island. Each and every single aspect of every area is completely filled with detail. Textures look clean, reflections are some of the best I've ever seen and the collectables offer enough incentive to warrant exploration. There's a vast amount of detail put into the environment, like an insane amount. Only downside is that it's sometimes hard to discern a collectable from clutter. However a lot of items (mainly posters) can be interacted with. It doesn't add anything but they're genuinely quite amusing.

Funnily enough, the world is also the best and worst thing about this game. Because this game is slow. Even though I beat it in under 2 hours with a large amount of exploration, it still felt like it was needlessly padded out. The character is unbelievably slow, even when the areas open up a lot more. It's extremely irritating to realise that I've forgotten to do something and have to slowly walk back to fix it. Which brings me to the puzzles. At first I got pretty annoyed at the lack of direction but it's mostly just matching conversations up. They're interesting conversations, mind you, but it's still annoying to walk from one character to another, only to realise they don't match and have to slowly waddle all the way back. Honestly it feels as if the developers did things like this to simply pad the game out and artificially make it longer, when it would have been a much nicer experience if it ended sooner without the pointless padding.


Anyway, world's great and characters are interesting and in-depth, like you really get a sense of their individual personalities and how they act with what's transpired. The story is interesting enough to keep the player gripped and wanting to continue walking. However the walking itself is a complete contradiction of that because at times it feels as if the game would have been better as a point and click. It may not seem like a huge issue, but it left a big enough impression on me to talk about how it was a dampening effect on an otherwise solid story. So what could really bring an atmosphere together, if not for the world and characters in it? The music. Music in this game is mostly a variation on the main theme, however it does deviate from this during the more creepy sections of the game. Overall, non-intrusive and sets the scene. Nothing groundbreaking but really fits in. Lowrider Sounds did a great job on the music.

Speaking of creepy, the devs clearly have an excellent grasp on how to set the tone. I only wish that the creepiness stayed for much longer. The odd sightings of the Rabbit boy as well as the environment changing around you were the best bits of the game by far (Not including the story aspects). It worked, the whole, switching between creepy and happy. It built tension in all the right places but I can't say that the "happy" sections were as good as the creepy sections. Same goes to any other emotion the game tries to throw at you.


In summary, I can't justify the price tag. at £11.99, it definitely warrants the amount of effort put into it by the developer, but the duration and gameplay holds me back from recommending it at full price. I have no qualms in saying that I'd recommend this when it's on sale, but only when it's on sale. I don't think it's for everyone, as it includes a lot of ambiguity throughout the story that I'm not sure everyone will "get".


Overall, I'd give it a score of 7/10. For what it is, it's great. A story game such as this really comes together when the developers put this much effort into every aspect. The textures, sounds, voice acting. Everything moulds together to create this very captivating experience. The only thing stopping it from receiving a higher score is the mindless padding. Having a short game is not a bad thing, making a short game longer by forcing the player walking very slowly whilst doing (initially) trial and error puzzles is indeed a very bad thing. It kills the flow and takes you out of it completely. It's hard to stay immersed when you're frustrated.





SIDE NOTE:
(I couldn't help but think this train was sponsored by FaZe) Oh and the title of the game is extremely clever. You'll work that out if you decide to play it.
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