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iPad  header logo

Blackwell 2: Unbound


For: iPad   Also on: Android, iPhone, Steam

Seventies spectre

Product: Blackwell 2: Unbound | Developer: Wadjet Eye Games | Format: iPad | Genre: Adventure | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
Blackwell 2: Unbound iPad, thumbnail 1
Blackwell 1: Legacy introduced us to Rosa Blackwell.

She was an interesting character. An isolated and introverted girl thrust into uncomfortable social situations by her job as a newspaper reporter, and her newfound ability to talk to ghosts.

But this sequel takes a strange turn, jumping back in time to 1973. This time we play as Rosa's chain-smoking aunt Lauren.

It's an interesting bit of backstory to add to Rosa's character. Lauren is incredibly important to the present-day Rosa, and she has a very different personality to her niece - she's confident, confrontational, and used to her new gig.

But this prequel arguably comes too early in the series for you to really care. We need to know more about Rosa before we dig into her distant past. And while Joey appears again, we barely learn anything new about him.

Boo

Despite playing as a different Blackwell, the gameplay is much the same. This is a point-and-click adventure where Lauren and Joey must help the recently deceased come to terms with their demise and move on.

We get two cases to take on. There's a woman who didn't want to leave her apartment when the construction crew came, and an old jazz player who spooks the living with his late-night sax sessions.

These cases involve more puzzles and less conversation than Legacy, making for a more active and nimble game.

And, for the most part, you can solve the two cases simultaneously - jumping back and forth between parallel puzzles if you get stuck on one investigation.

Paranormal activity

You can also jump between Joey and Lauren to solve puzzles, and the first game's notebook system has been augmented with a phone book so you can look up people and places.

Sometimes you need to play with actual physical notes by your side, so you can jot down names you might want to look up later.

It makes you feel involved in the investigation, but it does defeat the purpose of the in-game notebook. And it's pretty frustrating when you realise that Lauren hasn't been keeping adequate notes.

While the puzzles are better in Unbound, the graphics take an unfortunate step back from Legacy. These scrappy backdrops and simple characters reveal the game as an obviously amateur undertaking.

Unlike the other games, Unbound wouldn't be mistaken for some relic from the early 90s.

Spooks you, sir

As a standalone game, Blackwell 2: Unbound is interesting and engrossing. The puzzles are well designed, the sax player's story is touching, and the two cases smash up against one another in a surprising and satisfying way.

Which means, despite its faults, this is a game worth playing. But it doesn't work so well as part of the wider Blackwell series, as we should be getting to know Rosa - not her family.
 
Blackwell 2: Unbound
Reviewer photo
Mark Brown | 15 July 2014
This oddly-placed prequel is a scrappy game with some frustrating puzzles, but it's still an absorbing little ghost story
 
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