The GWJ Adventure Game Club - Game 7: Blackwell Unbound

Blackwell Unbound (2007)

IMAGE(https://steamcdn-a.akamaihd.net/steam/apps/80340/header.jpg)

This is another historical first, folks. From the second time in a row, one of my "picks" has been chosen, and it's the second game in the Blackwell saga. The sequel is actually a prequel. Instead of Rosangela Blackwell, the main character is her aunt, Lauren Blackwell. Taking place in the 70s, Lauren and Joey do what they do best, which is to guide lost spirits to their final rest. But New York is the city that never sleeps for a reason...

I'm thrilled that we get to play these back to back. I adored Rosa, but her aunt Lauren is also very likeable and relatable. Her deadpan, razor sharp wit will endear her to you, but you'll also find that she struggles with some very familiar issues. Everything that made Blackwell Legacy special is still there: the city of New York, a compelling story, great music, delightful pixel art... Unbound builds on everything that was already there, and sets the stage for even more in the series. It was actually supposed to be just a flashback in Convergence but it grew and grew until it became its own thing, and I'm very glad it did.

You can find the wikipedia page here, though the usual warning for spoilers should apply. How Long to Beat estimates about 3 hours to completion, which feels about right, even if you want to talk to everyone and see everything.
Available on Microsoft Windows, macOS, iOS, Linux and Android.

Please be mindful of your fellow goodjers and spoiler any discussion of plot points.

You can find the main thread over this way. We'll be playing Blackwell Unbound in May 2019, with an extra month for stragglers. Have at it!

Here's one of the theme songs for the game to give you folks the sense of how things shift in this game:

It’ll be interesting to see how much the game has changed/improved.

So, since I'm still ahead of the class (finished Blackwell 3 a week or two ago).. I really enjoyed this one, much more than Legacy. The voice acting felt like a big step up, and the puzzles were more difficult without being as arbitrary feeling

Want to play both this and the previous one. Looks pretty good.
But waiting for a sale I think. Maybe it is a summer game

Tanglebones wrote:

So, since I'm still ahead of the class (finished Blackwell 3 a week or two ago).. I really enjoyed this one, much more than Legacy. The voice acting felt like a big step up, and the puzzles were more difficult without being as arbitrary feeling

Dani Marco as Lauren Blackwell is just spectacular. I booted up the intro last night and she just nails Lauren, who she is, what she’s feeling.

Little challenge to everyone... try, just try to keep Lauren’s cigarette count down...... (yes, that is something the game keeps track of, though it’s for funsies)

So I started playing tonight on the iPad, and it handles pretty well, compared to Steam with a mouse and keyboard, at least in my opinion. Gosh, I'd forgotten a few things about this game, and it's great to see it set up a few things. I'm kinda bummed I'm not finding more videos with the soundtrack to post here, but the soundtrack is really great, I love it to bits. The jazzy tones really suit the mood.
And Lauren. *sigh* Lauren. I just want to wrap her up in a huge bear hug.
I'd say I'm already about halfway through, it's about the same length as the first game.

How's everyone else coming along, aside from Tangle who's already moved on to Deception, maybe?

Eleima wrote:

So I started playing tonight on the iPad, and it handles pretty well, compared to Steam with a mouse and keyboard, at least in my opinion. Gosh, I'd forgotten a few things about this game, and it's great to see it set up a few things. I'm kinda bummed I'm not finding more videos with the soundtrack to post here, but the soundtrack is really great, I love it to bits. The jazzy tones really suit the mood.
And Lauren. *sigh* Lauren. I just want to wrap her up in a huge bear hug.
I'd say I'm already about halfway through, it's about the same length as the first game.

How's everyone else coming along, aside from Tangle who's already moved on to Deception, maybe? ;)

I moved on to Kathy Rain instead

I’ve got it downloaded but haven’t started yet. I did go ahead and buy the rest of the series this time though.

I finished the game last night. It's a funny thing, because it felt both longer and shorter than I remembered. I got stuck a couple of times, so I'll spoiler bits and pieces of advice below (for those who really want to go in blind). It's still great, though. Really good.

Advice:

Spoiler:

Pick up anything that's not nailed down. Especially in your apartment.
Remember you can switch back and forth between Lauren and Joey. Have Joey look at everything if you get stuck.
When you ask people about stuff you've written down in your notebook, be sure to click several times if need be. Sometimes, you have to ask again to get extra information.

Also, I adore this song, and I had to upload it to YouTube because I couldn't find it anywhere:

I got started today. Working on my first two “quests.” Lauren’s another great protagonist. I like the ‘70s setting. More games should take place in the ‘70s.

I like how the game starts and the noir music sets the mood.

This isn't really a spoiler but...

Spoiler:

When Lauren goes out on the balcony for a cigarette and you are immediately prompted to move her by clicking elsewhere. I waited to let her have a few more drags on her cigarette as she'd only just lit it up (then she refused to move anyway.)

I found the first case pretty rough without the tips shared here (admittedly not helped by how I'm playing--iPad while on my bike trainer because weather hasn't been conducive to real biking, not the greatest setup). I really dislike repeating notes. But Lauren is prickly in a way I'm into, and it's compelling enough that I'm able to be forgiving considering the game's age. I do feel a bit bad she had to tank any chance with C--not that he's long term material, but I feel like she deserves to enjoy herself. It's the 70s, after all.

Yeah, I completely get that. Incidentally, don't forget that you don't have to focus on just one case. You can work on both at the same time. Which I find nice, because if you get stuck with the Roosevelt Island case, you can always head back to 53rd and Lex and try to figure things out there and so on and so forth.

Finished! Was stuck for a while before remembering to check out the phone book but then knocked out the rest of the game with just a couple hints.

Spoiler:

Man, the main thing I'm feeling now is heartbreak. I feel bad for C, for Lauren, for Joey, for the Countess... I really wanted to be able to apologize to C for dredging up all that pain, to try to explain that it's gonna help. Joey being jealous of C's advances is also an interesting dynamic.

Maybe it's easy to feel bad for Lauren because I know how her story ends. I just wish I could change it.

I know exactly what you mean, ActualDragon.

Also, don't forget to use the dictaphone in your inventory. There's some interesting stuff in there, with foreshadowing.

I finished the sax man case. Early hiccup caused by not realizing I could click/press on the sax itself.

Afterward, loved this dialog:

Spoiler:

”She was pretty spry for an old lady.”
“Spry, my foot. You couldn’t catch a one-legged turtle with those lungs.”

Heheheh. Well, he not wrong, you know.

Folks, don’t forget you can tackle both cases at the same time (I might have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating and also I’m on my phone, so posting and scrolling is cumbersome).

Yeah, I started both cases, but once I got rolling on the one, I focused on it.

I definitely like that you have the choice and can pursue both and go back and forth between them, though. Good design choice.

Done...and smoked 35 cigarettes? That doesn't sound right. Anyway, it was a good time, even if it felt a bit primitive at times.

What do you mean exactly by “primitive”? I’ll agree that the graphics were certainly rougher than I remembered.

Also, regarding the smoking, there are two achievements: one for smoking fewer than twenty cigarettes and one for smoking..... more than a hundred!! Yikes!!

Eleima wrote:

What do you mean exactly by “primitive”? I’ll agree that the graphics were certainly rougher than I remembered.

No, I really liked the aesthetic. I more meant things like the investigation and dialogue systems, the things that felt to me like they were pushing the boundaries of the point-and-click format, and would in the future be better sign-posted...or more hand-holdy, depending.

Finished up. Used several hints, maybe because I’m impatient and more interested to see the story proceed than in figuring things out. Overall, I liked the vibe, the setting and the voice acting and remained interested in the series. I enjoyed the stories of the two “cases” more than I did the Countess stuff that tied them together.

Edit: Oh! Joseph Mitchell was a real person. I have even read about him before, but didn't make the connection until I was reading something about the game a moment ago. Neat.

steinkrug wrote:

Edit: Oh! Joseph Mitchell was a real person. I have even read about him before, but didn't make the connection until I was reading something about the game a moment ago. Neat.

Oh wow! I never would have guessed or looked him up. That's neat!

Oh, Lauren's final cigarette count was 42... I did a lot of wandering around sussing out what to do next.

I'm about half way through the game. My modern video game 'it's relevant if it glows or has yellow paint, etc on it' training has let me down twice:

Spoiler:

I assumed the porta cabin at the building site was just part of the background scenery. I managed to interact with the ghostly saxophonist without once realising you could interact with his saxaphone.

Higgledy wrote:

I'm about half way through the game. My modern video game 'it's relevant if it glows or has yellow paint, etc on it' training has let me down twice:

Spoiler:

I assumed the porta cabin at the building site was just part of the background scenery. I managed to interact with the ghostly saxophonist without once realising you could interact with his saxaphone.

Spoiler:

The left/right click thing has been throwing me off - I looked at the sax a bunch, never occurred to me to try to interact with it.

Well, I've kinda finished. I can see the finish line but

Spoiler:

In the fight with the countess I can't select the cigarette from the inventory in order use it on the countess and escape her clutches. If I click on it I just get the stop watch. The cigarette never appears out side the inventory to allow me to use it. I've tried the left mouse button (and the right, just incase.) I've saved during the fight and have quit the game and come back in twice incase it reset the problem.

Edit: Internet to the rescue. My conviction that there is always someone who's had the same problem as you, no matter how uncommon, and has posted about it on some forum somewhere remains strong:

Back in 2013 a woman had the same problem. A dev posted that the issue had come up in testing six years earlier but hadn't resurfaced since then. The answer was to right click in an empty space somewhere in the scene which resets the inventory. It worked. Phew.

That’s such a weird bug! Glad you found a solution for it, Higgledy, because I was stumped when I read your post last night.

It's one of those where you have a nagging feeling you're doing something wrong even when you aren't.

It's one of those instances where you're glad we have the internet and don't to dial some super expensive 1-800 number, right?

Definitely!