Unless you’ve been living under a rock on Mars, you’ll probably be aware that the whole games industry is at a crossroads. Problem is, no matter which direction it takes, we simply do not know what lies ahead.
It’s the first time in my life that I don’t know where the games industry is headed. In the UK, AAA games developers feel like an endangered species: Lionhead, Studio Liverpool and Free Radical have all gone the way of the dodo over the past few years. I hate to go full on UKIP over here, but out of all the indie games I’ve played over the past few years, so few of them were developed in the UK.
Indie games have gotten bigger and better since 2010. No more are they niche titles that appeal to a limited audience, they’re the games that frequently top the Steam sales charts. The UK will catch up to the indie gaming revolution, and UK developers are making small steps in the right direction. One such step is Paperseven’s Blackwood Crossing.
Blackwood Crossing is a first person adventure game (FPA). The early version I played was centred around two siblings, Scarlett and younger brother Finn, travelling on a train when the mischievous Finn decides to run off.
The train, it would seem, has more to it than just being a regular train: it changes shape and becomes more than a mere sum of its parts. You’ll find grass, treehouses, and even grandad’s greenhouse and then we begin to encounter people that belong to both protagonists’ pasts. Each person is wearing a strange mask and speak in fragments about the lives of the siblings. Soon we’re learning all about the background history of the family and things aren’t all that they seem. Finn isn’t the happy mischief-y chap that you think he is and things begin to unravel on the train as the happy fantasy world begins to burn before your eyes.
Blackwood has a lot of potential. It’s a beta, so there’s still work to do, but the game looks solid thus far. The puzzles are standard adventure game fare, although they’re well put together and are often rather artistic – my favourite so far is one about finding some photos and then working out the order of story that is told through them. Blackwood very much reminded me of another FPA game (I’m trying to use that instead of walking simulator, is it working yet?) called Virginia, which I recently reviewed. Much like Virginia, Blackwood Crossing similar non-linear story telling devices that build the world the game lives in.
Blackwood Crossing is a very beautiful game. Its artistic approach to the walking simulator (dammit!), though these games do usually look beautiful and it helps really draw you into the world. Blackwood is wonderfully surreal and blends styles and settings seemingly without issue. Fans of Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter are the ones who are most likely to enjoy Blackwood Crossing, it is definitely a game to keep an eye on when it’s released next February.
Blackwood Crossing is being released on Xbox One, PS4, and PC (Steam).