Game Review - by StormDaemon
Master storyteller John Saul has created a vision into psychological terror in his collaboration with Legend Entertainment for the game John Saul's Blackstone Chronicles. In the classic tradition of Myst and Riven, you'll take on the role of a person who must explore a world that is filled with mysteries and puzzles. In Blackstone, though, you'll take on the role of a father who must save his son from his own dead father who has returned to take vengeance on the people that would take away his asylum.
The story is an adventure in psychological terror, as you, Oliver Metcalf, the son of the last superintendent of Blackstone Asylum, must race against time in order to find where your dead father had taken to your son. Both he and other spirits will guide you along your way, unfolding the story of the asylum and bringing up old mysteries. Many puzzles and mysteries will stand before you as you try to save your son, so you'll have to act quickly and decisively in order to re-secure him before sunset, which is the fated hour in which your dead father will take your son away forever.
Blackstone features a very simple point and click interface that will get you through the entire game without having to do anything else. Conversations, item handling, and puzzle solving are all handled by point and click, with no typing or keyboard input involved. Blackstone also has an average menu system that loads, saves, and does just about everything else expected with no bells or whistles. The graphics and sound effects are some of the better features of the game because of the detail involved in both. Even though the movement scenes are movies and look not so great, the still graphics look really good. The game has a large amount of sound effects, most of which are the voices of the characters involved in the game. As for the plot of the game, there are lots of deep mysteries involving varying degrees of terror and puzzles, so that would be the main attraction of the game.
Anyone who has played a game of Myst or a Myst clone will quickly grasp how to play Blackstone because of the similarity of gameplay style. A point and click interface, still graphics of rooms to interact with, mysteries, and lots of puzzles are all the features of Blackstone and many other Myst-like games. This game does have a few differences though, and the main one is the use of terror as a game subject, and also the use of the movies for movement. Creating terror within a computer game is a very hard job indeed, but with author John Saul at the helm of the design, Blackstone managed to truly have terror woven masterfully into the storyline. Playing the game in generally requires a lot of patience and a good mind for mysteries.
The graphics used in this game were generally nice and accomplished the job of recreating the story, but in the overall picture, the switching to a movie whenever movement of an event occurred detracted from the game because of the decreased quality of the picture. While the movies certainly looked exactly like the place they were occurring in, they were of lower resolution, and the switching from a high to low resolution constantly looked really weird. After a while, you get used to it, but it still isn't that great.
Other than the movies, and the movement graphics, everything else was nicely drawn and looked great. The majority of things that were within the world were 3D, and if they were not, they fit nicely into the area that they were placed, making the rooms look believable and fitting. The animations of the various things around the asylum worked just fine and looked decent with not complaints at all. The only problem with the graphics would have to be movement scenes that used the movies.
Blackstone involved a huge number of sounds, music, voices, and other effects which needed to sound good in order to truly bring about a sense of involvement within the storyline. Even though the graphics were average, the sounds did make up for those because of how good they sounded. The voices of the characters were very believable and did not sound out-of-place or badly acted. The rest of the sounds were recorded well and were well placed, and they actually sounded authentic. The music was good because it gave the feel of the type of the game this was and just sounded good.
Overall, Blackstone Chronicles was a decent game that had nice still graphics and nice sound effects. The gameplay was simple and easy, and the puzzles were challenging, as were the mysteries that had to be solved. Quite simply, this is the same type of game as Myst, Riven, and the rest of the clones out on the et, so if a person has enjoyed those types of games and enjoys terror, then they'll enjoy this game. As for anyone else, it might hold your interest for a little while, unless you truly enjoyed this type of puzzle and mystery game.