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Based on prolific horror author John Saul's serialized account of Oliver Metcalf's brush with the supernatural while trapped inside the Blackstone Asylum, this adaptation enhances the adventure by offering additional insight into what happened prior to the novel's setting. Red Orb Entertainment, in collaboration with Saul, rekindles the adventurous, intuitive gameplay that was so prominent in Legend Entertainment's successful format from the late '80s and early '90s.
John Saul's Blackstone Chronicles' two-CD set uses a combination of cinematic sequences, onscreen hotspots, and puzzles, as you explore the forbidding mansion the town of Blackstone is renovating to be the Museum of Psychiatric History. Employing a "smart" cursor that changes as objects become attached, you manipulate inventory items and interact with the creepy environment or other objects as you strive to keep Oliver alive and solve mysteries. As in many adventure horror games, conversations with the inhabitants of the haunted locale — in this case, past victims of the asylum — play an important role in advancing the story.
Gameplay centers on collecting clues, holding conversations, exploring, managing inventory, and solving puzzles, some of which are timed. Failure to solve the timed puzzles results in Oliver's death, but three options provide resurrection and hope: return to a point in the adventure right before the puzzle is encountered, accept a clue, or ask for the solution. In this way, impatient gamers need not be stymied any longer than desired, while hardcore sleuths have the option to solve the puzzle without any help. ~ Michael L. House, All Game Guide