Blackwood Crossing is a first person story adventure game. In which players take on the role of Scarlett who wakes up on a moving train with her young brother Finn. Is Blackwood Crossing a Journey worth taking? Read our review below to find out…
Blackwood Crossing puts players in the shoes of fourteen year old Scarlett, inviting them to experience an emotionally charged, coming-of-age tale that is as whimsical and endearing as it is heartbreaking. Scarlett is on a journey by train with her mischievous ten year old brother, Finn. Finn behaves pretty much like any other unsupervised ten year old boy on a train would, pushing his sister to find his hiding spot, attempting to jump scare her, and dragging her reluctantly through a game of Simon Says. The childish games that Finn and Scarlett play are important, even though they seem simplistic, as they provide an opportunity to understand the relationship between the siblings, as well as serving as a means of exposition for their back story.
As Scarlett follows Finn’s lead through the train, playing games at the boy’s whim, she finds herself falling into an Alice in Wonderland like world, surrounded by strange people wearing masks that seem oddly familiar as the train itself warps into entirely different environments from Scarlett and Finn’s past. These surreal moments are subtle puzzles that the player must guide Scarlett through in order to unlock more of her past and to help her make sense of the current events in her life. None of these puzzles are particularly difficult, but they do require that the player pay attention to the dialogue between characters for hints.
PaperSeven makes a conscious effort with Blackwood Crossing to never tell the player how to feel about what they’re experiencing while in Scarlett’s shoes, and they pull this effort off exceptionally well. Blackwood Crossing is an emotional roller coaster but exactly what emotions the player experience are up to the actual player, right down to having the choice of the tone of voice Scarlett uses when speaking with Finn. Blackwood Crossing plays like a first person point and click adventure, with players interacting with people and objects in the world by hovering a white dot in the center of the screen until an interaction prompt appears, however if other characters in the game are speaking or a cinematic event is going on, Scarlett must wait until that ends for interactions to become available to her.
Blackwood Crossing’s whimsically haunting, Tim-Burtonesque style character models, smooth cinematics, subtle puzzles, and exceptional storytelling make it difficult to find anything to complain about. That said, it wasn’t entirely impossible. Upon reaching the end of Blackwood Crossing, it became apparent that I had missed some of the collectibles scattered throughout the game world. Blackwood Crossing does not include a chapter select option upon completing the campaign, so completion junkies will want to keep that in mind as they explore the game’s world looking for the numerous collectibles. Because players can not choose to replay select chapters, anybody looking to acquire all of the games collectible devices or trigger different endings will need to replay multiple times in order to do so. Fortunately, the game is so poignant and enjoyable that the multiple play throughs for collectibles is hardly a thing to be upset about.