Like most fans of Bioware, I’ve been playing Mass Effect: Andromeda almost non-stop since its release last month. (Despite the reviews) so I’ve got to say, it was nice to take a break and play something different. Blackwood Crossing is the first big release to come out of local studio PaperSeven, and I was lucky enough to interview them about their game last year.
Even from first impressions I was excited to report back that PaperSeven appeared to be delivering the kind of game we all love to experience when it comes to indie titles. Complex characters, personal and intimate stories and usually, a unique art style we haven’t seen before. Blackwood Crossing follows the story of Finn and Scarlett, orphans who appear to be on some kind of surreal journey, only later do players realise that this is more Scarlett’s journey than Finn’s. The gameplay runs through several dream like sequences, when it’s unclear to the player what’s real and what’s not. This in itself is representative of childhood, when situations are unclear, and a wonderful stylistic device that’s been employed with great accuracy. Scarlett and Finn’s relationship is convincing and honest to say the least, and it certainly provokes an emotional reaction. You find yourself considering your own sibling relationships. One of my own personal favourite moments was exploring the treehouse and bringing the butterflies to life. The treehouse was truly a beautiful hive for the magic found in their story. Though I only played a small amount of the game before it was finished, I was pleased to find that the game kept the eerie atmosphere that creeps up on the player from time to time. You can enjoy the magical and mystery behind every corner until suddenly things take a darker tone and you begin to wonder what’s really going on. It seems there is something more sinister afoot. I particularly liked the way the surrounding family members, were used to bring context to the story. Sometimes smaller games can leave too much unsaid and this is both a positive and a negative. It gives players the opportunity to speculate and discuss, but from a narrative point of view, leaving threads can sometimes appear messy and rushed. But when it comes to Blackwood Crossing I can safely say it concludes perfectly, with the player feeling satisfied, though a tad uneasy! When it comes to the story I must congratulate Oliver Reid-Smith on his excellent writing skills for this story, it’s poignant and touching.
I will say playing a huge AAA title like Mass Effect alongside this has certainly reminded me why we love games such as Blackwood Crossing. Video games are, in my humble opinion, a form of art and there is undoubtedly a lot to be said about a big ‘painting’, such as Mass Effect. There is lots of detail and many characters. You can analyse the artist’s ‘brush stroke’ and influences, man hours, until the cows come home. But sometimes I find it is the smaller ones, like Blackwood Crossing, the ones that you’ll find at the back of the Art Gallery, that will keep you going back and discovering new things. Like how the artist has used lighting to incite a particular tone, how impressive and in dept the areas are, or simply smaller details you didn’t notice before. I have to say, and I’m trying not to sound like a total fan girl here, that Blackwood Crossing is an excellent game and one you should all experience. I’m incredibly proud of this local studio, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
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