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Video Game / The Blackwell Series

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Rosa (left) and Joey (right). They lay the dead to rest

A series of independent Adventure Games created by one Dave Gilbert of Wadjet Eye Games, which features supernatural mystery solving and a unconventional inventory system. The series is technically a Continuity Reboot of a planned series of freeware games called Bestowers of Eternity, of which only part one was released.

The main characters are the introverted unwilling medium, Rosangela Blackwell, and her family's crotchety guide to the world beyond, Joey Mallone, a ghost with a Mysterious Past. Together they must help the restless and bodiless souls of New York City to move on to the next plane of existence, which is rarely an easy task, requiring interrogations, exploration, and not a small amount of breaking and entering. Meanwhile they uncover more about the Blackwell family's past, and the nature of mediums and spirit guides and other people like them who delve into the supernatural.


Games in the series:

  • The Blackwell Legacy (2006)
  • Blackwell Unbound (2007)
  • The Blackwell Convergence (2009)
  • The Blackwell Deception (2011)
  • The Blackwell Epiphany (2014)

Check them out here, on Steam or on There's also a couple promotional cartoons.

See also The Shivah and Unavowed which takes place in the same universe as this series.

The games use the following tropes:

  • Acceptable Targets: invoked Being New Yorkers, Joey and Rosa are not huge fans of New Jersey.
    Rosa: I'm wet, I'm filthy... and I'm in New Jersey.
    • In Epiphany, if you look at the right item in Lia's house Joey also takes a shot at Queens, New York.
      "A picture of New York's skyline, huh? Well, I guess if you live in Queens you need some reminder of civilization..."
  • Ambidextrous Sprite:
    • Averted with Lauren in Unbound, who has a strand of hair over one part of her face that doesn't show up if she's turned the other way.
    • Played straight with Maggie Fielding in Epiphany; her shoulder tattoo is always visible and changes orientation based on which side of her is visible.
  • An Aesop: Several of the ghosts' stories are about how things that may seem earth-shatteringly vital and important often don't matter as much as you believe they do, and that the consequences of giving into or not facing it are far greater than whatever you might fear. The lesson of Mavis' story for example is "don't shut yourself off from the world, otherwise you'll have nothing to show for your life."
    • Space Whale Aesop: Epiphany has the lesson "The journey is just as important as the destination, so don't skip the former to get to the latter more quickly, otherwise your soul will get ripped apart and eaten.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • Ghosts that have left the earthly plane but are unable to enter the next world somehow, remain stuck in the space between planes for the rest of eternity. This is the fate of Madeline, the Countess' former spirit guide, and happens to Joey as well before they both manage to return to Earth.
    • Aunt Lauren's fate could also qualify as this. After her breakdown, she was hospitalized and had to be sedated for twenty five years to prevent her from injuring herself. Doctor Quentin admits he isn't sure if that stopped the pain or not.
    • Joey, prior to meeting Rosangela, was stuck in the same hospital room as Aunt Lauren for those twenty-five years. He couldn't leave, couldn't sleep, couldn't be heard and couldn't be seen.
  • ...And That Little Girl Was Me: In the final game, gruff detective Sam Durkin reveals that part of the reason he's been helping Rosa is because of a case he worked twenty-odd years ago, when a woman went crazy and tore up her apartment, leaving a frightened little girl ... who was, of course, a very young Rosa. Durkin knew all along; Rosa had no idea.
  • Aborted Arc: Deception ended with Rosa declaring she were going to track down and fight the covert cabal of Emotion Eaters that Gavin was a part of. But that plotline is ignored in Epiphany and it only comes briefly into play again when Joey bumps into the ghost of Benjiro, a rogue member of Gavin's organization who played a factor in the game's underlying plot, and then it disappears completely again when Benjiro says Screw This, I'm Outta Here!, as he realizes what Madeline is up to.
    • The police commissioner, hinted at the end of Deception to be part of the conspiracy, was going to have a scene in Epiphany, but ended up being cut entirely as Dave Gilbert felt the scene didn't fit in the plot.
  • Ambiguously Bi: In Epiphany, it seems that Joey may fit this, as he was intentionally vague as to why he'd saved his assistant, Danny's, life by talking to members of the mob in his place.
  • Anger Born of Worry: At the end of Convergence, Joey calls Rosa out on risking her life to send The Countess to the afterlife and "save" him.
  • Artistic License – Geography: All shots of New York are accurate or at least mostly accurate to the era they're shown in, except one. In Unbound, the saxophone playing ghost is playing in a spot where the skyline of Manhattan is visible when it should not be. In the commentary, both the designer and the artist comment on it and claim artistic license that it looks nicer.
  • Art Shift: The graphic design changes quite a bit from game to game. Dave Gilbert has called it a Running Gag on the commentary track, and that told he especially likes the idea of giving the portal to the Realm of Infinity a new interpretation in every game.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Ghosts are supposed to go into the realm of Infinity when they die. Some kind of afterlife is presumed to lie beyond that.
  • Ax-Crazy: The Countess, a medium who lost her spirit guide, now spends her days killing people who she identifies as being "in pain."
  • Back from the Dead: Joey, at the end of Epiphany.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: Joey and Madeline. The latter eventually manages to move on in Epiphany's ending, but the former remains this way, even when the power of the universe is sending ALL unsent spirits. He is eventually resurrected by Rosa in her dying breath, in the hopes that he can finally move on when he passes away a second time.
  • Batman Cold Open: Convergence, Deception, and Epiphany.
  • Being Good Sucks: Being a medium means spending all your time with the dead and basically never having a life of your own. Being a spirit guide forces you to remain in the mortal world indefinitely, unsure if you'll ever be able to move on. Joey admits he thought saving lost souls would be fulfilling initially but isn't sure he feels that way anymore, we see in Unbound Lauren was numb to the whole process, and Rosa seems to be going the same way in Deception where Gavin is able to exploit her resentment toward the role to put the mind-whammy on her and make her reject Joey and the role entirely.
  • Big Applesauce: All games take place in New York City. Of course, this is subverted when you learn that the designer is a native New Yorker.
  • Big Bad: One for each game, with the last one having the bonus of being the Bigger Bad for the whole series. Lampshaded by Joey in Epiphany. "It always comes down to one guy, doesn't it?"
    • In Blackwell Legacy, The Deacon.
    • In Blackwell Unbound, The Countess.
    • In Blackwell Convergence, The Countess again with Charlie Meltzer controlling her.
    • In Blackwell Deception, Gavin.
    • In Blackwell Epiphany, Madeline.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Every game, as well as the individual stories of each ghost. In the commentary Gilbert mentions that he likes writing ghost stories for this reason, as while sad (they're dead, after all) there's also usually an element of hope.
    • The Blackwell Epiphany is this for the entire series: Madeline's plan to eradicate all spirits, both living and dead, has been stopped and all the restless spirits around the world have been saved simultaneously, except for Joey's for some reason. Just when it seems they're going to continue their ghost-saving job, the power of the universe becomes too much for Rosa, and she uses her last strength to bring Joey back to life before she dies.
  • Bland-Name Product: Oogle, Rel Day Books, MyPhone, etc.
  • Blow You Away: ...Sorta. Joey commands the power of light breezes. Evildoers beware.
  • Bookends: The first game begins with Rosa spreading her aunt's ashes off the Brooklyn Bridge. The final game ends with the now living Joey spreading Rosa's ashes at the same exact location.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Turns out that the person that kills Ostin in Epiphany is actually a possessed Father Michael, Madeline's "host" at the time.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Joey, after getting revived, notices that he can't see ghosts any more, and that he appears to be a normal person again.
  • But Now I Must Go: Getting a ghost to this point is the entire purpose of the Medium profession.
  • But Thou Must!: A medium who is cut off from their spirit guide or refuses to perform the task laid before them, will eventually go mad. Refusal of the Call causing madness is an assumption corrected in Epiphany.
  • Can't Hold Her Liquor: In Convergence, when you try to leave the Park Gallery after visiting it for the first time, Nishanti urges Rosa to stay for the party. If she complies, a slightly different set of dialogue will play out throughout the game that implies Rosa got very drunk that night at the gallery. Attempting to interact with liquor bottles in Deception has Rosa refuse because it didn't work out well last time.
  • Canon Welding: In Epiphany, Rosa is shown to have a subscription to The AbbotPost.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Upon seeing another ghost becoming aware of his or her death, Joey will often tell them that he's "so sorry."
    • As Rosa grows increasingly accepting of her role as a spirit medium and of Joey as a friend, hers becomes: "It's what we do." At first it's reluctant and begrudging, but by the end of Epiphany it's basically a Badass Creed.
  • Character Development: In the first game, Rosa suffers from intense social anxiety to the point where she hasn't spoken to any of her neighbors in five years at the same building, something Joey teases her about constantly. She also finds it difficult to make small talk or be in front of crowds, and she has a tendency to be defensive or snappish in conversation. It's likely a combination of childhood trauma and her foster home upbringing, plus whatever hereditary components might be involved. Over the course of the series she begins to push past this, not letting it stop her from interrogating dozens of complete strangers on the most bizarre topics, doing a thankless job that no living person is even aware she's doing.
  • Character Overlap: Sam Durkin first appeared in The Shivah, a game unrelated to the Blackwell series but confirmed by Word of God to take place in the same universe. Rosa, for her part, appears as a non-speaking extra in the remaster version of The Shivah at one point, and based on her description (looking into empty space), Joey is likely there as well.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Picking a locked door with a paper clip in Convergence.
    • Getting a person to remember their sense of self worth and defend themselves by insulting them, which first becomes important in a minor situation Convergence and then saves Rosa from Gavin's control in Deception.
    • By the time of Epiphany Rosa's mental control allows her to keep her balance on moving to the gate to infinity rather than falling over as she and her aunt always did in the past. This later allows her to withstand the effects of being linked to infinity much longer than her aunt or grandmother, letting her remain lucid and functional long enough to take down Madeline.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Joey is always willing to put on the charm, flirts with nearly every female ghost, constantly calls Rosangela "sweetheart", and is supremely annoyed that when he goes into a women's locker room it's currently empty. But he's always respectful when it really matters, and the one time he's propositioned he turns her down because she's unsure if she really wants to.
  • The Chosen One: The painter Claude Urdin in Convergence believes to be this, right before he gets killed.
  • Climax Boss: the countess's ghost. she is a major villain in both the 2nd and 3rd game and after she is stopped rosa learns more about the overall setting and plot points are set up for the last two games. .
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Tiffany Walters, who relentlessly pursued her boss into having an affair, and then when he ended it hounded him until he filed a restraining order against her. In her defense, she was psychically manipulated into it.
  • Clipboard of Authority: In Unbound, the crazy tenant ghost doesn't believe Joe to be an official of some sort, because he is not carrying a clipboard.
  • The Conspiracy: Gavin hints that there's a greater organization at work apart from him, and if The Stinger at the end of Deception is any indication, people in power may be involved.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: Rosa's apartment gradually fills up with mementos, clippings, and pictures referring to past events. By Epiphany there's stuff referring back to every previous game.
  • Continuity Nod: In Deception, you meet the son of Cecil Sharpe from Unbound, who now owns SFX company and had an affair with one of the ghosts. The photograph of the Cecil's old band the C-Sharpes that Lauren need to copy to complete the case is even hanging on the wall in his office, including Isaac Brown - the important ghost from Cecil's case. Likewise, the Seagram nursing home is named for Seagram Realty, who bought and tore down the home of Mavis Wilcox, one of the other ghosts in that game. Either of these might otherwise be considered too much of a coincidence by the protagonists, but they come to naught and Joey only comments on the former, if indirectly.
  • Creator Cameo: Dave Gilbert himself voices at least one or two characters in each game.
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option: A puzzle in Legacy involves poisoning a dog. Joey calls Rosa out on it, Rosa defends it as only mild poisoning, and in the commentary Gilbert regrets he couldn't think of anything better. In Epiphany Joey claims the dog has never been the same since.
    • In Deception, either Joey and Rosa have to insult the ghost Allen Reiken in order to either get him to stand up for himself (or discover he's a ghost by attempting suicide, depending on how you do it). In Deception, you have to do the same thing for Rosangela when Gavin takes control of her.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • Unbound is distinctly bleaker than the other games, even without knowing Lauren's fate. Lauren and Joey can barely stand each other, Lauren herself is suicidally depressed, both the ghosts' backstories are horrible and were both strangled to death, and you actually have to kill someone. Even the soundtrack is morose.
    • Epiphany has a number of ghosts' souls torn apart, for the first time you see the ghost of a little girl, you see the inside of an insane asylum, and a rogue ghost nearly kills all of New York.
  • Daylight Horror: Discussed in Legacy's commentary. Because the ghosts don't look quite as impressive during the day, Dave Gilbert decided to have every future game take place at night (or in overcast conditions).
  • Dead Artists Are Better: The antagonist of Convergence relies on this to make money.
  • Deader Than Dead: Souls normally can't return from the afterlife (excluding Joey, who was yanked out again after Contis locked away her guide), but the possibility remains unless the soul is completely torn apart.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Joey.
  • Dead Person Conversation
  • Dead to Begin With: The ghosts Rosangela encounters, obviously, most of which she has to make aware of that fact before they can move on.
  • Definitely Just a Cold: In Deception, Jeremy thinks he just came down with the flu when, in fact, he's dead and haunting his apartment.
  • Didn't Think This Through: In Epiphany, Joey has a good laugh at Madeline's expense when she finds she can't move beyond the range of her former host's dead body after taking possession of Rosa.
  • Discontinuity Nod: One character in Epiphany says about a TV show that she is watching, "They changed the main character's voice after the first episode."
  • Doomed by Canon: When Joey says that it's a bad idea for Lauren to get back in touch with her brother, he means it. This shifts the ending from Bittersweet closer to Downer.
  • Downer Ending: The Blackwell Epiphany, arguably. Yes, Joe has a new lease on life, and all the spirits who couldn't move on have been sent to the afterlife, but all the members of the Grace Group had their spirits destroyed, and Rosangela had to sacrifice herself to save New York. Joe also admits that his memory of being a ghost is fading, implying that he might eventually forget Rosangela, or at least, all the times they had together.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: The dreams Lauren recorded on her dictophone in Unbound refer to events in the previous game (which takes place around thirty years later). One or two of these dreams foreshadow a few twists in Convergence.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Legacy has Joann, Alli, and Susan, who resorted to this to escape the Deacon. The former two "succeeded", the latter is fortunately still alive.
    • Convergence has the ghost in the opening, found hanging out on a building ledge and threatening to jump. Turns out he decided not to go through with it, but slipped before he could go back inside.
  • Dummied Out: The scene in Epiphany where Rosa would've met the police commissioner, which can still be accessed through the developer's commentary.
  • DVD Commentary: Commentary Mode.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first game had you only controlling Rosa, even after Joey makes his appearance (the ability to switch between Rosa - Lauren in Unbound - and Joey wasn't introduced until the second game), is much shorter compared to the later games, and proportionately contains less investigation and more puzzles.
  • Electromagnetic Ghosts: All ghosts, including Joey, can interfere with radio-based devices simply by getting close to them. This is crucial to solving several puzzles throughout the games. Also Rosa notes that she had to install cable just so she could watch TV with Joey around.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: In Epiphany, Rosangela briefly gains full control over the Doorway to Infinity that forced its way into her mind. She uses it to stop Madeline's plan and resurrect Joey, before succumbing to Power Degeneration.
  • Emotion Eater: Gavin feeds on people's positive emotions, prolonging his own life and eventually causing his victims to die of aneurysms.
  • Episodic Game: The series are a borderline example. Each installment came about every year and a half and offers about 3-4 hours of gameplay. Epiphany is the odd one out, being 3 years in development and being substantially longer that the previous installments.
  • Everyone Has Standards: As abrasive as Joey can be, when faced with the ghost of a young girl, no older than 10 in Epiphany, he simply can't bring himself to tell her that she's dead.
  • Evil All Along: Madeline. Turns out freeing her from the void in Deception's climax was a bad idea, as she's abusing her powers to tear spirits apart and absorb their essence to become more powerful. She plans to tear a hole to the void and destroy all spirits (including the living) in New York in order to teach humanity to accept death with the added bonus of finally ending her own "life".
  • Evolving Title Screen: After finishing Epiphany, the title screen changes from Rosa and Joey looking away from the camera to a closeup of Joey's hat, which he leaves behind after being brought back to life by Rosa.
  • Fate Worse than Death:
    • What happened to the Countess. Not even death could free her from it.
    • What's worse than death? Dying and then having your ghost literally ripped apart. Rosangela and Joey are shocked and furious, respectively, for most of the game after seeing that.
  • Film Noir: The series has definite strokes of this: the investigation-based gameplay, jazzy score, Lauren's smoking, and Joey's entire shtick as a wisecracking 1930s rogue in a Nice Hat.
  • First-Episode Twist: In Legacy, the ghost appearing before Rosa finally revealing his identity: Joey. This only comes into play about a third of the way through the game, and can come as a huge shock to those not expecting it, however, it is nearly impossible to describe the series without spoiling it.
  • Flight: Joey can levitate high off the ground if he wishes. He rarely exploits this ability, however, since he has to stay within thirty feet of his medium at all times.
  • Friend on the Force: In Deception, Rosa meets police detective Sam Durkin. He intentionally refuses to ask what she does exactly, but her ability to solve mysterious problems (even if he never really learns what was happening) convinces him to hire her as an unofficial consultant and he provides her with some off-the-record assistance at times.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Alli Montego from Legacy. Despite animals getting very restless around ghosts, she's able to examine a dog without it reacting, while being a ghost.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Adrian and Alex from Legacy. This is important, as Alex's gender-neutral name means that Rosangela can pose as him and slip by a security guard.
  • The Ghost/No Name Given: Grandpa Blackwell. He is mentioned here and there, but he hasn't made an on-screen appearance or even been named in any of the games. Lauren is about to say his name at one point, but temporally interrupts herself for an unrelated reason, and the screen fades to black before the audience hears it.
  • Ghost Amnesia: As a sudden death is a pretty traumatic event, most ghosts don't realize they're dead, as they are subconsciously compelled to avoid thinking about things that reminds them of their death, and have to be reminded before they can move on.
  • Ghostly Chill: Joey's power over light breezes imitates this. When one ghost walked through someone it had the same effect, so other ghosts can do it too.
  • Ghostly Goals: Even ghosts who DO know they've died sometimes refuse to pass before they've accomplished something specific.
  • Go into the Light/Disappears into Light: There's a bright light in the realm of infinity. Rosangela invokes this trope to usher spirits into it.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Turns out that when The Countess sealed away Madeline, this happened to Madeline so thoroughly that she was also Maddened Into Misanthropy.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation:
    • The Countess. Sealing away your spirit guide and then letting the Infinity fill into your own skull can do that to you.
    • Ignoring the spirit guide, or refusing to help the ghosts everywhere drives a medium insane. It suggested that this what doomed Patricia and Lauren Blackwell. Turns out, it isn't.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Benjiro's "Epiphany Experiment" was meant to see if an Emotion Eater, like himself, could feed off people without killing them in the process, by increasing the victim's positive energies and skimming of the top instead of the usual method of just sucking energy until the victim died. The energy output from this method turned out to be so strong that Benjiro's mind couldn't take it, and his mind become more and more addled and he was eventually committed to psychiatric care.
  • Grand Theft Me: Madeline's ultimate goal in Epiphany. Her earlier attempts with Patricia and Lauren were... unsuccessful.
  • Hairpin Lockpick: Rosangela picks a door lock twice in Convergence.
  • The Hero Dies: Rosa at the end of Epiphany: She collapses under the weight infinity puts on her mind, but not before saving all the lost souls at once (if you count Joey being resurrected).
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Joey died protecting Danny Marconi from some gangsters who showed up at their shop.
  • Hero Insurance: Averted. When Rosa comes into contact with the police in Epiphany, it's mentioned that she has more than a dozen restraining orders, covering several of the last games' important locations.
  • Hikikomori:
    • Mavis Wilcox in Unbound. She never left her apartment for anything, even when it was condemned, and even in death, she still refuses to leave her apartment, even though the building had already been demolished.
    • Rosa in Legacy, to the point when some of her neighbors don't recognise her. She seems to get better in Convergence, but she still is pretty antisocial.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: A standard feature of every game in the series.
  • Historical Domain Character: Joseph Mitchell and Joe Gould, complete with the unusual specifics such as Joseph Mitchell never writing anything after the 60's and Joe Gould composing his oral history. The Deacon is one of the characters mentioned in Mitchell's book.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Heather Goffstein. Or rather, one half of her.
  • Hopeless with Tech: Joey spent the entirety of the 80's and 90's locked in a hospital room and has very little knowledge of technology as a result. He can operate a computer moose by blowing on it, but that's about it.
  • Hope Spot: In Epiphany Rosa and Joey have defeated Madeline, saved the city and sent EVERY ghost in the world into the beyond. Joey starts talking about how they can have a vacation until more ghosts appear, maybe travel and Rosa seems to like the idea. Then it's suddenly revealed Rosa is still connected to the universe and unable to bear the strain of the link any longer and she dies, using her last moments to restore Joey to life and ensure he never ends up like Madeline.
  • Iconic Outfit: Joey's hat and tie, with the latter being a physical representation of his bond with the Blackwell family. He loses both in the finale of Epiphany, when he is restored to life and thus freed from his job as a spirit guide.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: In Epiphany, Rosa asks an uncooperative Pastor Ullman if he knew a man named Michael. Ullman says he has never heard of him, but when Rosa presses a few clues he makes the mistake of telling her she'll have to "find Michael Cooper somewhere else," even though Rosa never actually told him Michael's last name. Amusingly, he still keeps up the act afterwards.
  • Info Dump: A massive one at the beginning of Legacy, involving extensive conversations with two characters and a bunch of letters. Gilbert laments this in the "Five Years Later" commentary, resolving after the game was made to never resort to this trope again.
  • Intangible Man: Common to all ghosts and used for several puzzles involving Joey.
  • Interface Spoiler: Several achievements spoil events in the games, particularly the confrontation with the Countess at the end of Convergence. One achievement in Legacy looks like a story-related one but it being followed by another one hints that it's possible to not save the Deacon.
  • Invisible to Normals: Only mediums, babies, and animals can see ghosts.
  • I See Dead People
  • I Should Write a Book About This: In Convergence, Rosa receives a rejection from Rel Day Books for her manuscript "The Devil and the Deacon"—presumably an account of the events in Legacy. In Deception, Rosa has a published (but wildly unsuccessful) manuscript called "The Actor and the Artist"—presumably an account of the events in Convergence.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Joey attempts this on the Deacon in Legacy. You can choose whether Rosa should intervene or have him go through with it.
  • Jacob Marley Apparel:
    • Not limited to the clothes. If a ghost was specially attached to an object while s/he lived, s/he will carry around a ghostly version of it. Sometimes the objects are still somewhat functional, such as saxophones, guns, and phones.
    • The Deacon's bottle (which he keeps drinking from despite being empty) hits closer to the Trope Namer's variant, as the devil chasing him says it literally contains his past sins. If Rosa destroys it, it will absolve the Deacon of his sins, giving the devil no more reason to come drag him to hell and granting him passage into the afterlife at last.
  • Justice Will Prevail: Rosa always expresses some degree of sympathy for every ghost she and Joey meet, due to the often quite sad circumstances of their deaths, and is driven to right or, seeing as she is dealing with the death after all, at least try to mend the wrongs they have suffered and bring them some sort of justice and comfort. Madeline notices that her attitude makes her quite different from Lauren, who approached the life as a medium as more of a reluctant Punch-Clock Hero.
  • Justified Tutorial: Convergence, Deception, and Epiphany open with the player restricted to a small area until they help a ghost pass on, using most of the skills they'll need in the game.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • It's possible to save Charles Meltzer in Convergence. None of the characters care if you don't, however. Bonus points as none of the sequels cuts the branches.
    • In Epiphany the Big Bad, Madeline, achieves her wish to move on through the light, even though none of the souls that she tore apart get to.
  • The Key Is Behind the Lock: In Deception, Rosangela has to fetch a key from inside a room at the nursing home.
  • Last-Name Basis/First-Name Basis: A funny back and forth takes place in Epiphany, where Rosa works together with the cop, Cory Palmer. Rosa insists on keeping addressing him as just "Cory", while he, rather annoyed, corrects her to "Officer Palmer" every single time.
  • Left Hanging: Because of the aforementioned Aborted Arc, The Stinger of Deception, which strongly implies that New York's police chief, Alex Silva, is a leading figure in Gavin's covert cabal of Emotion Eaters, is never resolved or even elaborated upon.
  • Literal Split Personality: Heather Goffstein was so insisting on ridding herself of her former life as a prostitute and starting a new life under the name Tanya Corsey, that when she died, her soul split up into two separate ghosts, Heather Goffstein, the young prostitute, and Tanya Corsey, the middle-aged talkshow host. In order to trigger her awareness of her death, Rosa and Joey must convince her to undergo a Split-Personality Merge.
  • Living Memory: The Countess has the memories of a homeless philosopher and a writer for the New Yorker dwelling with her own memory in a diner somewhere beyond Infinity. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Lying to Protect Your Feelings: Rosa banters with Joey about going on a vacation and seeing a movie before collapsing and revealing that she is already dying.
  • Madness Mantra: Look up Tomo on the Oogle web search.
  • Mind Rape: The Deacon is mentally tormenting the three girls Joann, Alli and Susan in Legacy. Hearing his voice non-stop drives two of them to commit suicide.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Rosa is a freelance writer by career.
  • Musical Spoiler: Most locations throughout the series don't change their background music throughout the game, or do so very few times. This means that sometimes you can tell if something serious is going to happen in a specific location later on if the BGM for it is particularly dramatic, or whether someone seemingly innocuous is more than they appear to be if the music around them is tense. This becomes noticeable as early as the first game, where the Dog Park's music goes from cheerful to dark before Joey even shows up, let alone you find out there's a ghost there.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Rosa develops a serious coffee addiction as the series goes on thanks to how often she's out chasing ghosts late at night.
  • Mysterious Past: A major part of Joey's character, and he keeps a tight reign on it. Rosa only learns how he died by accident, and she never learns why he became a spirit guide. The player learns about the latter in the last act of Epiphany, where it turns out to have been purely coincidence. The Anti-Climax is very much intentional on Gilbert's part.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The Countess has this realization towards the end of Convergence, having killed countless people in her career as soul guide.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: In Epiphany, Benjiro tells Joey that he's not like the other members of his species, such as Gavin from Deception, who kill people by sucking the positive life energy out of them in order to sustain themselves. Instead, Benjiro founded the Grace Group to increase people's positive energy, so he could skim off the top and thus survive without needing to kill anyone. Unfortunately, it had unintended consequences, which led to Benjiro being committed to an asylum and eventually dying there.
  • Mythology Gag: Gavin and his superiors refers to Rosa as a "Bestower of eternity", a reference to the original freeware game the series is based on.
    • Similarly, Joey refers to the business of saving ghosts as bestowing eternity at the end of Legacy.
  • Narrative Filigree: Each game is littered with things that aren't relevant to the plot or a puzzle, but examining them can provoke a funny comment or some interesting but superfluous information.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In Epiphany, we find out that Madeline, the ghost that Joey had freed, was behind the whole thing, and the spirits they'd brought to her were quickly made as sacrifices to boost her own power. And that she did so in order to successfully possess Rosa, after failing to do so with his previous two hosts. To say the least, this revelation does not sit well.
  • "No. Just... No" Reaction: Joey struggles to put up with Rosangela's lame jokes, alternating between this and Sarcasm Failure.
    Joey: "Ryan + June". I wonder who June could be.
    Rosa: Maybe Ryan really likes summer?
    Joey: No. Just... no.
  • Notice This: The paperclip on the ground in the opening scene of Convergence is sparkling to grab your attention.
  • The Not-Love Interest: Rosa and Joey.
  • NPC Amnesia: The dialogue puzzles usually involve choosing a right answer amongst several false ones, sometimes with a dialogue tree that requires a right answer at each step, and the player is given unlimited retries no matter how many times they get it wrong. It's at least justified with the ghosts, who aren't all there, but the security guard in Legacy and the artist in Convergence have no such excuse.
  • Obliviously Evil: The Countess. She strangles people she learns of through her "guide", thinking she saves them. It's only when the link is broken that she realizes what she's been doing all this time... and boy, is she not happy with it.
  • Oblivious to Love: Lauren does not at all recognize that Joey is in love with her (a fact which is confirmed by Word of God):
    "Loved? Loved by who?"
  • Occult Detective: Rosangela officially becomes one at the end of Convergence.
  • Oddball in the Series: Unbound is the only game without Rosa, is much bleaker than the others, the most advanced electronic gizmo available is a tape recorder (it's the seventies, after all), and it doesn't even have character portraits and dialogue boxes. An interview revealed that Unbound originally was just flashback-parts in Convergence and turned into it's own game via an unusual path.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: In the commentary of Unbound, the designer and the artist joke that this is probably the only way Lauren could get around New York so fast in one night. That, or a jetpack.
  • OOC Is Serious Business:
    • In every conversation with a ghost Joey has the option of bluntly telling them they're dead. However in Epiphany at one point Joey absolutely refuses to do so when dealing with the ghost of a 10-year-old child.
    • At the end of Epiphany Joey actually refers to Rosa by name, rather than "Red" or "Sweetheart".
    • Towards the end of Deception, Rosangela enters the Doorway to Infinity without collapsing on the ground. It's the first sign that she's been brainwashed.
  • Oral Fixation: Lauren Blackwell is a hardcore chain smoker to the point where she does not only have an ashtray in every room, but also for all of her everyday activities that require two hands. She's also often in denial about her habit, claiming that the cigarette she's currently on is her "last one of the night". There's an achievement for smoking less than twenty cigarettes in a playthrough, which is much harder than it sounds, and conversely an achievement for smoking 100 cigarettes.
    "During this game, Lauren smoked 38 cigarettes."
  • Ouija Board: They actually work. According to Joey, the results are always bad.
  • Parental Abandonment: Rosa's parents died in a car crash when she was only 5 years old. Her aunt Lauren took custody of her for a few years before she was driven insane and sent to a mental ward.
  • Phone Call from the Dead: Jeremy's phone call at the beginning of Deception turns out to be this.
  • Phoney Call: In the first of the game series 'Blackwell Legacy' , Rosa needs to communicate with her ghost partner Joey that she needs him to use one of his abilities while in the general area of someone who isn't supposed to know about Joey being a ghost. Rosa gets around this by supposably making a call to Joey, although no one is on the other side of the line, but it lets her voice her request without arousing suspicions.
  • Planning for the Future Before the End: In Epiphany, Rosa knows she can't survive her connection with the universe. At first, she hopes she can send Joey on before she dies so he'll never know. When that isn't possible, she jokes and makes plans for a vacation before breaking down and telling him the truth.
  • Please Wake Up: Heartbreakingly done in Epiphany, when Joey tries to hand his tie to Rosa after she'd restored him to life.
  • Police Are Useless: Naturally, when deaths start involving ghosts. It gets lampshaded a bit by Joey in Convergence when Rosa isn't charged with the murder of an artist despite the fact that she and the murdered were the only ones visibly present at the time. Also, Lauren apparently gets off scot-free for killing the Countess. Finally averted in Epiphany, where the NYPD finally realize that Rosa just happens to be nearby whenever someone dies, and react accordingly.
  • Posthumous Character: The ghosts, obviously. More traditionally, Lauren "Auntie" Blackwell, though she's the main character in Unbound and shows up as a ghost at the end of Epiphany.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Joked about by Abe Goldfarb, Joey's voice actor, in one of the commentary nodes in Epiphany, noting that because Joey can only blow on things, fellating the living is his power. He thus declares as canon that "Joey sucks a mean dick".
  • Prequel: Blackwell Unbound.
    • Word of God later said in an interview, that the Lauren-parts were planned to be in Convergence, then cut as that game became too large, then collected from the cutting room floor to make ends meet (money running out, convergence too far from release).
  • Psychic Powers: Mediums don't get any of the flashy abilities associated with some psychics, but they can interact with ghosts in ways that are impossible for most people. And some have other kinds of powers.
  • Put on a Bus: Nishanthi goes abroad some time after Convergence. She emails Rosa about her travels from time to time, but otherwise plays no role in the plot. In the commentary for Epiphany, Dave Gilbert says that he had a broader arc planned for Nishanti, but he concluded that it wasn't very good (he outright refuses to say what it was), and dropped it, leading to this trope.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Dave Gilbert mentions in the commentary for Convergence that Joe Gould's portrait at the Minetta Tavern was taken down shortly after the release of the game. In Epiphany, Rosa now has said portrait in her apartment, implying that she bought it from the tavern.
  • Reality Ensues: As with many adventure games, Rosa must pick up many objects owned by other people and she must often sneak her way into private establishments and residences. This results in her getting a lot of restraining orders.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Gavin, and possibly Benjiro. Madeline has been around for centuries, but being a ghost might disqualify her.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Plentiful. Whenever a spirit refuses to listen to reason or encouragement, the option to give one of these appears in the dialogue tree. And it's usually the best course of action. Rosangela can use one on Alan to snap him out of his depression, and Joey uses multiple in a row to save Rosangela from her brainwashing.
  • Refusal of the Call: Rosangela's grandmother Patricia refused to ever acknowledge Joey, and Lauren gave up the ghost-saving duty to care for her niece. It's implied this was the cause of their psychotic episodes. Though this is not the case.
  • Running Gag:
    • Simply telling a confused lost soul they are dead is always possible (with one exception), but never, ever works. Lampshaded in Epiphany where a positively ancient spirit guide is asked if it has ever worked, pauses, then concedes it hasn't.
    • Joey's inability to understand modern technology. Amongst other things, he mistakes a fax machine for a telephone and a gaming controller for "some kind of neck brace".
    • Rosa falling on her face every time she crosses the portal into Nodespace. Ended up becoming an Overused Running Gag, hence Dave Gilbert decided to phase it out come Epiphany.
  • Sanity Has Advantages: This being an adventure game series, out-thinking the neurotic spiritual (or spiritually neurotic) villains is what earns the Blackwell mediums their victories in every game thus far.
  • Screen Shake:
    • The screen goes through some shaking twice in Convergence when you pick up the spirit from the oven.
    • Similarly in Epiphany when Madeline is gathering energy to unleash the vortex upon New York.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Once the ghost of Benjiro realizes what Madeline is up to, he decides that he'd better get the get the hell out of dodge before she manages to finish what she started.
  • Self-Deprecation: An entire Easter Egg in Epiphany is devoted to Abe Goldfarb, via Joey, mocking other characters that he's voiced.
    Joey: Some hack actor. Nice tie, though.
  • Sequel Hook: Every game except Unbound (being a prequel) and Epiphany.
  • Serial Escalation: With every new episode, the games get progressively longer, with The Blackwell Epiphany being the longest game in the entire series.
  • Serial Killer Baiting: Lauren tells the journalist cursed with his interview suspects becoming the targets of a crazy woman to write an article about herself in order to get the attention of the serial killer.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Rosa publishes her exploits as fiction, just like a certain writer from New Orleans. Unfortunately, it doesn't work out so well for her, since there's not much of a market for Ghost stories.
    • An Easter Egg in Unbound has Lauren call a character from The Shivah.
    • In Deception there's mention of an author named Robert Ashbless, who wrote a book called Anubis at the Gates. William Ashbless is a fictional poet invented by authors Tim Powers and James P. Blaylock, and he plays an important role in Powers' novel The Anubis Gates.
  • Socially Awkward Hero: Rosa. Helping ghosts move on to the afterlife? Easy. Interacting with the living? Not so much. Especially in the first game. She refuses to approach Nashanti while she's playing her flute in public, and her dialogue choices throughout often end up as a choice between "mean", "passive-aggressive", or "awkward/tell an awkward joke."
  • Sorry, I'm Gay: Rosa tries to get past a security guard by flirting with him. In the most awkward manner possible. The guard quickly excuses himself with the trope name.
  • Spirit Advisor: All mediums have one of these.
  • Still Got It: After Joey gets Jamie to return to her dorm room, during which she passionately kisses him twice, the achievement description reads "Not bad, for a dead guy."
  • Take Your Time: Standard in all the games, with one exception. At the end of Convergence, if you don't save Meltzer in time The Countess will kill him.
    • Two exceptions: But the end of Legacy gives you so much more time and so much fewer alternatives, saving the Deacon looks like the default solution.
  • Taught by Experience: Joey, Lauren, and Rosa. Dialogue with another spirit guide (the only one besides Joey you ever encounter) suggests that, normally, mediums and spirit guides get a formal education from more experienced people, living and dead. Without a teacher and with nothing but instinct to go on, Joey has apparently developed some... unconventional talents as a spirit guide.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: The opening theme gets remixed into a gym's workout track in Epiphany.
  • Title Drop:
    Joey: Think of me as the Blackwell legacy, darling.
  • Unfinished Business: The games operate under standard ghost rules, except for the fact that while you fulfill some ghosts' unfinished business to make them notice their death and thus saveable, others need to be made aware of how pointless their goal is to be able to move on.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: A woman named Jocelyn Contis performed a single act of unthinking selfishness which not only destroyed her own life ( and death, for that matter), but the lives of around a dozen other people, the main characters included.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Joey, Rosa and Father Michael in Blackwell Epiphany, as they help Madeline furthering her scheme.
  • Updated Re-release: Deception had an update in 2013 where the character portraits was changed to a more realistic style over the original comic-style portraits to fit more with the other games in the series.
  • Urban Fantasy
  • The 'Verse: This series and The Shivah share some elements. Rosangela contacted Rabbi Zelig, presumably for an obituary. Sam Durkin makes appearances in Unbound when he's at college and Convergence and Epiphany as a hard-boiled detective. Sharming Fashion is mentioned in Convergence. All the present-day games have spam e-mails by Tomo. In Deception it turns out that Rajshree Lauder contacted Rosa to see if her husband's ghost was still around. Rosangela's neighbor Nishanthi and Rajshree share the same maiden name, Sharma. And in The Shivah, in the pub there's a certain redhead talking to someone who "isn't there".
  • Video Game Caring Potential: You can save the Deacon from Joey's "persuasion" and the Demon, save Meltzer from The Countess' wrath, and convince a ghost to move on by giving him hope... or by convincing him to kill himself again, which produces a What the Hell, Player? reaction from Joey.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: In Deception, you can make Joey phase through a closed door while he's being followed around by a baby, causing the little tyke to slam face-first into it. This actually earns you an achievement.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Rosa and Joey. Lauren and Joey try for this at times, but it's far more resentful.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Turns out that Madeline doesn't. Epiphany shows that after a few centuries or more of thankless, ceaseless duty helping other spirits cross over, she's pretty much fed up with the whole affair and is willing to take drastic measures to end it all.
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us?: Joey doesn't see the appeal of a TV show about a guy solving people's problems with the help of a shorter guy no-one can see or hear, and states "it's a little far-fetched".
  • Who You Gonna Call?: Rosangela decides to set up an Occult Detective business at the end of Convergence and continues it in Deception, complete with business cards and newspaper advertisement.
  • Why We Can't Have Nice Things: A real-life example. On Halloween 2013, Wadjet Eye Games did a special free giveaway of one of the Blackwell games to encourage people to buy their games. Even though several goofs on behalf of their download fulfillment partner BMT Micro were rectified for the most part, a large amount of the freely-distributed Steam keys were still found to be hoarded (through spambots and IP blockers) for resale, forcing WEG to abort the giveaway and have Valve delete all still-unused keys, possibly including several that were gained legitimately.
  • World Building: Each game reveals something important about mediums and the supernatural, and hints at much more.
  • World-Healing Wave: At the end of Epiphany, Rosa uses the power of the Universe to save every single ghost on the planet. Except Joey.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: Oogle and Bmail.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Joey always calls Rosa nicknames until she dies in a Heroic Sacrifice when performin a Please Wake Up moment.
  • You're Insane!: Joey says so to Madeline, calling her a "raving lunatic" for being the culprit behind Patrica and Lauren Blackwell's madness, the Fate Worse than Death she brought upon the entire Grace Group, and for taking control of Rosa's body.
    • Shut Up, Kirk!: Madeline's only retort is a self-righteous rant about how the fate she suffered through made her justified in doing all of those things.

Alternative Title(s): Blackwell Unbound


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