Blackwood Crossing is a narrative drive first-person adventure game. I’m going to absolutely avoid all spoilers (except in the hidden ‘Triggers section), because it’s brilliance relies heavily on the emotional impact of its unfolding story and I think everyone should play it instead of reading of reading about it. Its poignant, reflective, skillfully made and artistically designed.

It’s a game that finally addresses many of my constant complaints about games – that the stories just aren’t as good as in other entertainment media – that the narrative is frequently interrupted by game mechanics that seem to be there just for the sake of adding game elements at regular intervals – that games have a tendency to have so much in common that much of the experience of playing is practising muscle memory ingrained over the years.

Blackwood Crossing is an original. It’s something different, something interesting, something extraordinarily well-made with a great eye for detail.

Product Information

Retailer: Steam +                   

Price: ± £12/$16/€16

About PaperSeven Ltd

PaperSeven is a small 14 person, Brighton based dev studio. They were set up in 2011 and have developed a wide range of titles for other companies on almost every platform. Blackwood Crossing is their first solo game and they’re working with Vision Games Publishing to get the title recognised.

Design

Blackwood Crossing takes around 3 hours to complete and follows a linear narrative path with some interesting puzzles that enrich its story.

The controls are simple, but frustratingly sluggish and imprecise. It bothered me at the start of the game, but by the middle I’d adapted to walking as if wading through water whilst waving a tiny dot cursor around until it magically hits the target that pop up the interaction cue. There is no remapping, even on PC. These issues makes it not the most accessible game for those with any dexterity issues.

The puzzles aren’t fiendishly difficult and the time or two where I didn’t get them instantly was when I was looking for too complex a solution. It’s all there, it’s all evident, it’s all short and straight forward – part of the game rather than boring errands to run that unlock the next part. Playing wasn’t a means to an end. The level of small, realistic details made each segment of the game come to life.

The characters feel ridiculously real. The objects associated with their lives were realistic and touching and it’s these tiny details that bring the game to life. The animation was expertly done, the voice acting realistic and because of a lack of dramatic intrigue, it does feel very life like.

Games offer up lives and many, many deaths, they circle extraordinary events sometimes of cataclysmic size. We become heroes and gods, facing the unimaginable, vanquishing and conquering whatever lies ahead. It’s great fun to play a great hero. It’s rare for a game to come along that plays like a chapter from an ordinary life at one pivotal moment where everything changes.

Blackwood Crossing does this brilliantly.

Trigger warning

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Environment & People

educationalBuild quality

Cost-Effective

At twelve pounds Blackwood Crossing is priced towards the upper end of an indie game with a play time of its length.

System Requirements

Electric plugs or hook-upinternet accesswifi access

 

Minimum specs:
OS: Windows 7 or later
Processor: Core i3-550 2.5ghz
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 460 or higher with 1GB of Memory
DirectX: Version 11
Network: Broadband Internet connection
Storage: 5 GB available space

Blackwood Crossing is also available on the PS4 and the Xbox One.

Verdict

I have a sick six year old who picked up a crayon when she was 11 months old and most of the time it feels like she never put it down. I live in a house filled with children’s art projects, including paper mache planets, cardboard theatres, shadow projection art, masks and alongside the art is a large soft toy continuously expanding zoo of well-loved animals. The landscape of Blackwood Crossing instantly appealed to me. Forget all the horror movies you’ve ever watched and start the game remembering instead what childhood was like.

The genius of Blackwood Crossing is in the details. I want to write them – but I’m not going to because they’re part of the game. It’s been a long time since I played a game that was fully immersive – the gameplay elements fit seamlessly into the plot and enhances the experience. There is no pointless running back and forth, no need to make allowances for things that simply doesn’t fit in and at 3 hours in length – every minute has been made to count. It’s a game with substance and purpose that has something important to say.

Make time. Play Blackwood Crossing. It’s excellent. Highly recommended.

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The review is based on the PC – Steam version of Blackwood Crossing kindly provided by PaperSeven. This article was first published on 12 April 2017.