Blackwood Crossing – Xbox One Review

When it comes to next-gen gaming, there are so many games that push the medium to the limit — multiple ways of killing enemies, vast open worlds full of collectibles and multiple ways to approach missions… and on, and on.

As much as I enjoy those sorts of games, I do have a soft spot for games that solely exist to give the player an experience by telling a story through visuals, sound, and limited interaction.

Blackwood Crossing is one such a ‘game’. You won’t find any complex game mechanics or deaths here — they want you to experience the story.

I really enjoyed Blackwood Crossing, a first-person puzzle adventure. The mix of production design, music, and voice acting worked together perfectly to weave together a story that didn’t result in full-on tears, but nonetheless tugged on my heart strings towards the end.

Often creepy, but never frightening. I loved the dream-like nature of the game, and the gradual reveal of the orphaned siblings, Scarlett and Finn’s story. I recognised elements from my own dreams and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, if that’s not giving too much away.

Be warned though, the experience isn’t completely pleasurable. Several of the ‘puzzles’ are extremely abstract with little guidance, and the pace at which your character (Scarlett) wanders around the world is frustratingly slow. Being a very short game, I assume the developers set this walking speed to prevent rushing through, but personally I found traversing the environment just a little too slow to make solving the puzzles completley enjoyable. Coupled with needing pin-point accuracy when targeting items of interest (you have to be spot-on when interacting with or collecting objects) I found the interface marred the overall experience.

Nonetheless, I was entertained. I don’t have a problem with games that are intended to guide you through a story with minimal interaction. Some of my best moments in gaming have been when the light and the music have hit that ‘sweet spot’ to really immerse me in the game’s world and story.

Would I recommend it? Hell yeah! So it’s a couple of hour’s entertainment, and maybe not the sort of game you’ll return to over and over, but by supporting games like this, you’re showing developers that there is a place for interactive storytelling games — and hopefully longer ones, that are more refined.

I can’t say Blackwood Crossing hit me in the same way that ‘Life is Strange’ did, but I’ll certainly remember it.

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