Blackwood Crossing Review
I sit here at my desk with the second draft of this review because I’m unable to put the words down that will accurately describe my experience with Blackwood Crossing. I can’t quantify the worth of this game by deciding if it matches its monetary value. I can say that Blackwood Crossing is a shining example of using a video game to tell an emotionally deep story. I was expecting horror, but what I got could barely be considered unnerving or ominous. Instead of horror, I got a short, fulfilling story about the unwavering love of family.
I know that the ESRB has Blackwood Crossing listed as a game for everyone but there are some dark tones present. It’s a tale about coping with grief and loss at a very young age. I’m not the person to decide whether it’s appropriate for children, but I would take a step back to genuinely consider it. It simply won’t resonate the same way for a person who hasn’t already faced their own demons.
You are awakened on a train as Scarlett by your younger brother, Finn. No destination, no reason. The cars are unnervingly empty as you begin your inception-like walk through endless railcars. Soon you discover the two siblings are not alone as you are approached by some sort of rabbit-boy with an otherworldly voice. You find your brother, Finn, being swallowed by a strange black substance and your quest for answers begins.
“It’s a game that defies explanation but has deeply emotional implications.”
It’s difficult to explain Blackwood Crossing and not feel like anything I mention could be construed as spoiler material. I can’t do you (my enamored reader) justice by discussing it because any point I make will take something out of your experience. I went in completely blind and I think that is the best way to approach this style of game. Your questions will be answered…more or less. There is a level of interpretation in the game left to the player. I think anyone who plays it will take a slightly different perspective and walk away with a unique experience. There is also a level of unknown left over. There are still burning questions I have. Maybe I’m not supposed to know and that makes the story all the more enriching. We don’t always find the answers we seek in life and that fact is present here.
There’s a scene about halfway through that takes place in the treehouse the children shared. It’s a sweet moment between the two siblings that takes a dark turn when Finn feels his sister is abandoning him. It’s a memorable moment that seems to reflect the alone time between a brother and sister growing up.
The train you are riding throughout the story is distinct, often presenting some surreal moments and scenery. At one point one of the cabins transforms into a greenhouse in the middle of nowhere. Likewise, all characters that appear on the train are wearing masks. It’s a slightly unsettling visual aspect even after you learn why.
The game is a very quick play through. My final time was no more than three hours. The “puzzles” are easy once you grasp what is required. There are prompts for interactions and determining what to do with them is up to you.
The game had very minor issues to me. One is the first-person movement of Scarlett. Her steps seemed over-exaggerated and clunky. The other is some delayed interaction prompts which can make for confusing moments trying to figure out what to do. Neither of these are deal breakers in the slightest bit.
Blackwood Crossing is a game I highly recommend experiencing. It’s a game that defies explanation but has deeply emotional implications. If you’re as fascinated as I am by the emerging trend of games that portray real feels then Blackwood Crossing is a no-brainer.
*** Xbox One code provided by the publisher ***
- Engaging story
- Fresh puzzles
- Quick play through
- Surreal moments
- Jarring first person movement
- Slow interaction prompts