Written by: Rik

Date posted: October 28, 2018

This chap was in a bad way. He doesn’t realise it’s even worse for him now.

It’s not the way it’s supposed to work, and it wouldn’t be possible at all without the loyal fans following things as they happen, but, like binge watching a TV show, there’s something weirdly satisfying about playing through a series of games one after another, without having to wait for work on the next one to be completed. It also helps to chart a series development more clearly, with every chapter played with the previous one fresh in the memory. So, as we continue our look through the Blackwell series, prepare yourself for a massively insightful review! [Or the usual rubbish? – FFG reader] Yes, or the usual rubbish.

Convergence is the third Blackwell game, following on from the slightly uneven opener, The Blackwell Legacy, and the unexpectedly effective prequel, Blackwell Unbound. As we discussed last time, Unbound was originally conceived as a flashback segment within this game, before being released as a separate title while work on Convergence continued. In a way, even though Unbound didn’t feature Rosa at all, by showing us the established back-and-forth between her Aunt Lauren and ghostly companion Joey, it prepared the way nicely for a return to the present day, with Rosa now obviously more settled into her role as a medium.

(Background such as this comes via the always-insightful developer commentary mode: although I did wonder exactly at what point the two stories were separated, how they would have threaded together and to what extent there are echoes of the larger planned game in the two smaller ones: would the opening scenes here, with Rosa and Joey at the tail-end of a case, have been juxtaposed with Lauren’s tetchy exchanges at the start of Unbound, perhaps?)

I’m not sure how many movie stars have a ponytail and wear what appears to be double-denim.

Anyway, Rosa and Joey are now into the swing of working together on ghost-saving business, and following the aforementioned opening prologue, which involves talking a ghost off a ledge (as is the Blackwell tradition, his living body fell some time ago but his spirit doesn’t seem to have realised), it’s into the game proper. A visit to an art gallery opening at the invitation of Rosa’s neighbour Nishanthi provides an unexpected lead after a fellow attendee suspects that a former movie star is haunting the location of his final performance. So you need to find this poor sod, convince him he’s dead, and follow where else this might lead.

As with Unbound, there’s a sense of the series being well into its stride with regard to the casework in this game. The characters are now more established in their roles, and can get straight into the business of solving mysteries and delving into the lives of these lost souls in order to help them move on. There are some memorable characters and situations on offer in Convergence: from the early interactions with Frank Lyons, the deceased movie star (I particularly liked the method by which you make him realise the gravity of his situation, which I won’t spoil here), to those with the double-act behind shady investment company The Meltzer Foundation.

But the strength of the writing is such that all of the minor characters also shine: the rather snooty film producer Monique, who introduces you to the Lyons case but soon comes to want nothing more to do with you, for example, or the art gallery duo of annoying, flighty owner Josie and sullen, pretentious artist Claude. As in previous Blackwell games, it’s notable that all of the characters are believable and well-rounded rather than being comic caricatures or one-dimensional obstacles to progression (or both).

Talking to the suit at The Meltzer Foundation.

We spend some more time with Rosa and Joey too, and beyond the progression of their relationship, we see Rosa grow in confidence as a person and as a medium. There are still opportunities for awkwardness though, such as the classic introvert’s dilemma Rosa faces after being invited to the gallery opening: leave early and immediately feel guilty, or stay and drink heavily in order to get through it, only to feel even worse in the morning.

As you might expect, there’s some crossover with Unbound in terms of the overarching story, with some characters returning in various forms. I do quite enjoy the way real life people and locations have been worked into these games, and it’s interesting to hear some of the background when playing with developers’ commentary on. However, I would say that I don’t find this to be the strongest part of Convergence: while the meat of the main investigation is solid (should meat be solid? Is that a recommendation, or just a terrible metaphor?), I personally found some of the more cosmic elements of the final stages, in which different elements from the two games are brought together, a bit too ‘out there’ and maybe not quite hitting the mark in the way that a finale shoule.

On the technical side, character portraits return from Unbound, and the visuals have been spruced up a bit overall, although they’re still in broadly the same style. The voice acting is great, as ever, with Rebecca Whittaker, as Rosa, in particular going from strength to strength. The notepad has been revised again, acting mainly as a list of things to potentially ask people about, with clue combination no longer a feature. Sometimes using the notepad will open up another question in the main dialogue options without necessarily flagging this to the player, but generally this works ok.

Uh-huh…

Taking a cue from The Shivah, there’s some more detailed interaction with the computer this time around: your own e-mail (Bmail) account provides some background, while the game’s events also require you to, um, access others’ accounts too. That element of noting key clues yourself to search for addresses and telephone numbers, which worked well in Unbound, is also re-tooled here with an internet search engine (just Oogle it) and is just as effective.

As with previous Blackwell games, Convergence is another relatively short one, so there’s a limited amount to say without giving too much away. Without it being a personal favourite, it’s another solid entry in the series, showing solid progression from Unbound and, in particular, Legacy. The main cases are as well-written and intriguing as ever, and although not all of the elements of the overarching story in this game come together as they might, there’s definitely a sense of the Blackwell saga as a whole taking shape and building momentum.