Here in the fourth entry the Blackwell series takes two steps forward, one step back. The backgrounds go from hand drawn pixel art to 3d renders, which makes the game look a bit dreary compared to the third game. On a positive note the walking and movement animations are still done in 2d, and improve dramatically. Movement finally looks smooth. The resolution for the UI and text are doubled, and the general feel of the game is much slicker than earlier entries.
The story continues in a similar style to earlier entries, which makes it feel formulaic. Not bad or anything, it just starts to make sense why it’s the second to last entry. You couldn’t do this for much longer without eroding the goodwill of the audience. As it is, the series is of an appropriate length.
The puzzles go for a higher level of difficulty here than earlier entries, and unfortunately I didn’t like many of them. When puzzles hit a certain level of time investment, I feel they distance me from the characters and the story. It becomes more of an abstract puzzle solving game than a story. I only felt this to a mild degree, mostly just in comparison to the first three games. I was still enjoying myself, still itching to see what happens next. But just in the distance I could hear it, the voice in my head saying “why am I doing this, what is my life, what’s the point”. You know, the things you constantly hear in your head whenever you play a MMORPG.
Having one entry be slightly weaker than the others is fine. I expected it to be the first one, not the fourth. But whatever! It’s not a biggie. This is still fine. The ending was really good, so that left me on a positive high that blots out the memory of the times it made me scratch my head or facepalm in frustration.