Thursday, March 13, 2008

Demo Review: Blackwell Convergence

Dave Gilbert has seen fit to tease the adventure-game-consuming public once again...with a 30-minute playable demo of the third Blackwell game.

Bastard.

Now I have to wait until "Mid 2008" (whatever that means) to continue. I remember this feeling. It was when I first read about S.T.A.L.K.E.R., back in 2003, and the same feeling lasted about four years. Mid 2008 is a lot less time, fortunately.

But enough about that. Convergence is going to be awesome, if the demo is any indication.

For starters, the chemistry between the leads has gelled even more than in Legacy. The change in voice actors, if anything, has only pushed Rosa's character forward; she sounds more confident, more mature, and seems to have picked up the slightest hint of her aunt's world-weariness (I suppose I would too if I was stuck with Joey for a lifetime). She's also starting to dish it out, as opposed to bowing to Joey's browbeating and misogyny. Joey's mellowed out just a smidgen, but otherwise, we all know Joey.

Graphical quality is on par with Legacy. The environment is lush; nothing looks unpolished or unfinished, and the rainscape and color scheme is quite evocative. As for the new sprite art, it's again on an equal footing.

And the dialogue...well, the humor level's ratcheted up a notch or three. The combination of laughs and human tragedy is concise and well-handled. Within 20 minutes, we experience exploration, exasperation, awkwardness, frustration, anger, self-pity, pithy barbs, and revelation. Pretty wide range of emotion for your average video game. Perhaps this is why Dave Gilbert's games work so well; the characters are very much real, human, and flawed, and seem to be getting deeper with each iteration. Three cheers!

Now for the long thumb-twiddling stage. Damned pre-release demos.

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