Blackwood Crossing on PS4
As games have moved away from their action-first roots more and more in recent years, we’re seeing a whole new breed of game really take shape. Following in the footsteps of the likes of Gone Home, Blackwood Crossing is a story-focused adventure that shows us slices of the lives of its protagonists, the orphaned siblings Scarlett and Finn. Players, in the role of the freckle-spattered Scarlett, must chase the mischievous younger brother through whimsical, dream-like scenes and solve bizarre puzzles to piece together the game’s somber story.
The game’s opening scene, aboard a train rolling through the countryside, lets players get acquainted with the characters and controls. From the start, there are a few pieces where things aren’t very well spelled out — players will have to use a keen eye to catch the details of what’s needed to move on. This can get tiresome, if not only for the minute nature of some of these hints, but because of Scarlett’s slow, plodding pace as she moves. This makes winding your way from one end of an area to the other a laborious chore, and detracts a bit from the few scenes painted with real urgency; Blackwood Crossing may have done well to add a run feature, but it’s not so bad as to completely drag the game down.
The benefit to this slow proceeding, in fact, is that players will have ample time to drink in the gorgeous scenery. When one of the train’s cars erupts into blooming flowers and thick grass, it is only a taste of things to come. Later scenes in the childhood treehouse that Finn and Scarlett used to play in, and a brilliantly vibrant island that may be nothing more than a construct of Finn’s wild imagination are rife with bright colors and beautiful set pieces. The dreamy quality of these places and the winding Alice in Wonderland style narrative give plentiful chances to simply bask in the game’s finely crafted world.
As the primary focus of Blackwood Crossing, I can’t very well ignore the story itself. It takes a little bit to begin putting together, given the disjointed narrative that befits its young characters. Once things begin to take form, though, there’s not a lot of deeply surprising twists. That said, even when the oncoming truckload of emotions is clearly visible as it careens toward you, the impact is not lessened by awareness. This is a tale filled with a morose pining, well told and reflected through innocent eyes that yearn for hope despite the looming pressure of reality. The world, the voice acting, and the details of the story itself all still weave together to form an impactful whole that may actually be more emotional due to the clarity with which you can see it coming.
Blackwood Crossing is not a universal recommendation. There are those among us who prefer fast-paced action or daring adventures to the calm and introspective nature of this kind of game. However, for those of us who appreciate getting lost in a good story and taking in gorgeous scenery, it’s a no-brainer. If it sounds like the kind of thing that’s up your alley, you can pick Blackwood Crossing up for the fair price of $15.99 over at the PlayStation Store, Microsoft Store, or Steam.
Score: 3/5 – Fair