Albeit with a few exceptions, PaperSeven's Blackwood Crossing is part of a genre that includes games like Life is Strange, where deep messages are explored through young characters via an engaging narrative. To give a bit of context for the story, it's a first-person adventure where you play as a teenage girl named Scarlett, who awakens suddenly aboard a moving train, accompanied by her brother, Finn.
After the appearance of a mysterious figure (a child with a rabbit's head) this trip turns into an introspective journey made up of memories, also serving as a way for Scarlett to rediscover her relationship with Finn, who she has drifted apart from after previously being very close to him. Through an evocative and sometimes distressing journey, Scarlett tries to understand how much her gradual movement away has influenced Finn's emotional state, leaving her brother anxious, angry and frightened, taking us into a real nightmare.
Blackwood Crossing is a fairy tale in the sense that it mixes the dark and eery with the weird and outlandish. Abandonment, fear, the hard road to adolescence, death, and sorrow are all themes that are explored in PaperSeven's game, offering an at times painful experience that aims to let the player reflect on these themes during what's actually a relatively short gaming experience.
Gameplay-wise, Blackwood Crossing is focused exclusively on solving small puzzles, with the ultimate aim being to put together the various pieces of the story and allow the player to understand the complex relationship between the two Blackwood siblings, and it's abundantly clear that the primary objective in PaperSeven's game is entirely focused on its narrative aspect.
Suspended in a world somewhere between reality and fiction, Blackwood Crossing is an ambitious game, but unfortunately stumbles technically, including some rather annoying glitches. Also, with regard to the character animations, despite the lovely art style these can sometimes look unnaturally and therefore clash with the emotional story being presented to you.
Another aspect we didn't like in Blackwood Crossing is the dialogue system with its multiple choices, some of which are often out of context with respect to what's happening in the game; quite often we found what was being said simply didn't match what was going on. That being said, the performances of the actors are still excellent, and even the soundtrack is pretty good, offering a dreamlike quality throughout.
Blackwood Crossing is a pretty good game, which tells a difficult, painful, but also very exciting story. In some respects, we would have appreciated a bit more care and attention from the development team when it comes to certain aspects (for example, the technical side), and perhaps an even more in-depth analysis of the complex relationship between the Blackwood siblings. The brevity of the game (three hours in total) doesn't allow us to deeply explore this relationship, leaving many things unsaid or even open to the interpretation of the player.
It's clear that PaperSeven's main aim was to touch these issues in a deliberately superficial way and encourage individual interpretations, but this means that the game ended up feeling a bit rushed in its conclusion. In short, Blackwood Crossing is a very interesting title, and it shows some exceptional qualities, but this should be seen as a starting point to build upon.