And so it is here, Blackwell 5: Epiphany.
After a lengthy battle with a corrupt app store request, it is finally here in my hands. After the past four episodes, I’m really expecting this one to do wonders.
The game opens up with Rosa, and Joey, stood outside a beaten, derelict building. Rosa is rocking a long dark trenchcoat finished with some headphones. Her attitude seems more juvenile and certainly way more confident than she has been in the past three episodes. Joey still seems the same, although the way of which both characters now talk to each other kind of suggests they are at least, fully comfortable with each other now.
“…every emotion shines through the voices, every dramatic pause is powerful, and the characters feel personal to me, I’ve watched them grow, I’ve seen them overcome tough choices, and shun petty arguments.”
Rosa is hanging around waiting for Detective Durkin, but he stands her up, so it’s up to her and Joey to explore the building alone. A locked door stands in the way, which is obviously no match for Joey. When Joey goes through, he explores the building, but finds nothing until he sees a ghost wandering off into another room. An attempt to chase after her fails as Joey states that he is too far from Rosa to continue.
Interestingly I came across the latest feature to Blackwell, the option to switch between characters and do their own things in different rooms. Previous episodes would make sure you’d be in the same room, or just outside the doorway, but Blackwell 5: Epiphany gives you some more freedom, allowing each character to work on their own situations. Also, instead of travelling through the rooms previously visited to return to whomever, you can now call one another, which essentially teleports them.
After solving the first ghost’s past and setting her free into the Infinity, Rosa and Joey leave the building to be faced up against a masked man who pulls out a pistol, fires a few rounds, and from the right enters the man he shot. This suddenly goes from a simple investigation to a “warning message”. At least that’s how I saw it at the time.
After some digging, Rosa and Joey are led to the home of a police officer, and…well it gets suddenly darker. In fact, out of all the episodes, this is certainly the darkest. A child’s ghost appears. Joey and Rosa struggle to come to terms with it, flaunting a mixture of emotions.
After figuring out how to get Kendra to talk to you through the interest of a game, you end up coming across her Mother, hidden in the basement…where we learn Kendra’s dead body is in hiding with her. Grim. Her Mother gets you to save her daughters soul first, and starts talking about something bigger at play. Then shortly afterwards puts her faith in Rosa to save her soul…and shoots herself. Christ.
This game just keeps throwing twenty thousand curveballs at you.
There is also a moment where we are thrown back in time to when Madeleine is with her host, and currently on an assignment. They come across Joey, who’s working in a store, he’s a ghost and going through the normal procedure of not accepting his fate. This moment gets revisited later on, but I won’t spoil it for you.
Blackwell 5: Epiphany brings back the note comparisons. The feature seemed to have vanished in the past few episodes, this one brings it back strongly with so many notes to link up, it’s a daunting task, but really puts your noggin to work.
Blackwell has toyed with my emotions throughout the series, but this episode is by far the most heartstring tugging, eye watering, impossible to put down, instalment.
The travel system works is different and does work, but the lack of location names – unless you held the screen – meant that you were spending some time trying to remember what image represented which area. As for the updated “MyPhone” system, the search system works nicely still with a nice keyboard UI upgrade, although it is indeed still slow in terms of responsiveness. Phone calling becomes a small function, but still not used hugely, it’s just a feature that’s there for a bit but serves no actual role into the storyline.
The characters voice acting is all incredible in this episode, every emotion shines through the voices, every dramatic pause is powerful, and the characters feel personal to me, I’ve watched them grow, I’ve seen them overcome tough choices, and shun petty arguments. They’ve been through so much and even if they grew frustrated with each other, they’ve not wanted to be left alone, because they know that they’d be exactly that, alone. Like they were before. The connection I now have with the characters is weirdly strong, and that’s thanks to the brilliant writing and acting.
One of the things I don’t like about the IOS version of Blackwell 5: Epiphany, is that skipping dialogue only takes a single tap, and when
you’re unsure if the silence is a pause or an invitation to continue playing, you accidentally skip it rather annoyingly. Also, if you accidentally hit the exit area of a level, there’s no way to cancel that action, and you have to wait until Rosa or Joey have wandered their way to the exit, back to the other area or location map, to make your way back again.
As always, the soundtrack to this is beautifully composed to the tone of the episode, and as each episode has gotten darker, this certainly compliments it. Especially using powerful instrumental swells to highlight emotional and dramatic moments that sent shivers down my spine.
I really don’t want to spoil the ending of Blackwell 5: Epiphany, too much, but it becomes a whole array of throwbacks to the past episodes, names are mentioned, people are brought back, fights are fought, scenes are revisited in similar ways. it’s emotional. It’s almost like a beautiful homage to the past few episodes, a nice celebration to the successful series,