‘Blackwood Crossing’ Review: Emotional Trainwreck

Blackwood Crossing is a new indie game from U.K. developer PaperSeven. A first person, story-based adventure game, Blackwood Crossing puts players directly into a deeply emotional, beautifully made, interactive tale. Seen and played through the eyes of a teenage girl named Scarlet, players must piece character conversations together correctly or solve other various puzzles to progress. What looks like a cartoony game quickly revealed a thought provoking, touching, and well-written tale.

Told in a first person perspective, Blackwood Crossing looks like a Disney cartoon to some degree at first, the cartoon graphics and simple gameplay seem to be made for children. What unfolds though is a great story, nothing “for adults only” but there is definitely some concepts that younger children wouldn’t understand. Dealing with loss, growing up, and the importance of family. Be sure to keep the tissue handy if you get choked up easily.

Scarlet starts out on a train and is quickly introduced to her younger brother, Finn. Finn is a bit of a troublemaker and likes to play games with his sister. Walking around, Scarlet can collect items to use, interact with some of the environment, and slowly, a little too slowly at times, traverse the train. You quickly realize something just isn’t quite right. You find Scarlet’s grandparents sitting on the train, but they are wearing these strange masks and flickering like they are not syncing with the rest of the world. Further along the trains cars, the rest of your family shows up, along with some family friends. All wearing these same strange masks, either representations of their actual face or an animal of some kind. The door is blocked by some odd power of black goop. Scarlet must talk to each of the other passengers in a particular order, as the conversations are built, the characters will disappear in a rush of leaves. When done correctly, the doorways or next scene will open.

As Scarlet progresses she will acquire some interesting abilities. These are all used to the further the story as players must figure out where to use them to open the path. Nothing overly complicated, Blackwood Crossing seems to only include these “puzzles” or situations to solve to actually make it a game instead of just an interactive story. Essentially that is what is: An interactive short story. Unfortunately it’s rather too short some might complain. At about two hours to complete, the tale, while incredibly well done, is over very quickly. Some players will like that there are many easy-to-get trophies, including a platinum, so there is that.

My review will also be quick as I do not want to spoil any of the story in Blackwood Crossing for players, that is really the heart of the game. What PaperSeven and its small team managed to create is a great story, great visuals, good voice acting, and even the soundtrack is well done. But, it is over too quickly, and some players may not be sure what they are getting for their $15.99 in the PlayStation store. If you are a fan of story-driven, interesting, and innovative indie games, and want to support the industry, I highly recommend picking up Blackwood Crossing. It brings an emotional element not seen in many games, so be sure to pick up some tissues as well.

Blackwood Crossing is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. This review is based on a PS4 copy provided for that purpose.

out of 5

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