Blackwood Crossing Wants You to Feel Like You’re Caught in a Dream

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Blackwood Crossing Wants You to Feel Like You’re Caught in a Dream

The rules and logic of our universe don't apply to the strange world of Blackwood Crossing, coming to PS4 on April 4.

At its heart, Blackwood Crossing is a game that tells a story. And when we started telling it, one thing became clear very quickly: it was going to be driven by rules and logic that did not apply to the real world.

As a team, we created our own set of rules that applied to our world and our universe. And we figured that as long as we continually referenced them, our audience would make sense of them and go with the flow.

It’s an illogical logic that exists because we say it does. And this is what helps to give Blackwood Crossing its unique character.

The word “surreal” is used a lot when talking about the game. So we wanted to share some of our thought processes behind this surreal magic so you can see what we’re pushing to achieve.

We’re not looking to create any kind of surrealist symbolism from the art itself. But what we are saying is that this game — its characters, its story — is surreal and madly creative, and we’re bringing you along for the ride.

This surrealism helps us to frame some of the more interesting art and style choices such as the game’s juxtaposed locations and the mysterious characters seen wearing masks.

It also, quite deliberately, helps with the story pacing. Having a surreal flavor to our narrative makes everything flow naturally, without us having to ask the player to go somewhere else or go somewhere different and break the magic and the illusion.

Our primary goal is to confound and delight!

Take the train, for example. It’s something that the player is going to become very familiar with. But trains are pretty… samey. They’re basically corridors on wheels. But we thought about them differently.

We really liked the idea of the player going into a carriage and things not being exactly as they seemed. We played around with childhood game ideas being played out within these carriages. And we introduce surrealist elements in small, bite-sized chunks. That way, when the player walks into the carriage and there’s a tree growing out of it, they don’t get spooked. It becomes the new normal, and you freely climb up the tree.

But we’re not deliberately trying to be avant-garde about this. The surrealism comes from the magic and the fantasy. Weirdness for weirdness sake doesn’t make for a great experience. That’s why internally we talk about dream logic.

The thing about dreams is that, when you’re in them, they make perfect sense. But outside of that state of consciousness, it’s a different matter.

What we want to do in our world, in Blackwood Crossing, is to keep you in that dream state so that everything hangs together. We want to help the player engage by confounding their expectations.

As part of our dev process, we interviewed people after they’d played through Chapter 1. We asked them to describe what happened and every tester would start explaining it and get halfway through before reasoning, “No, that sounds crazy! It all seemed to make sense to me at the time. But now that I’m reflecting back and trying to describe it to someone else…”

Surrealism deliberately doesn’t make sense. But our game experience does when you’re engaged and in the moment. And that was something that we worked very hard to deliver on.

See for yourself when Blackwood Crossing launches April 4 on PS4.

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11 Comments

6 Author Replies

  • I’m kinda confused here (was it intentional?). :)

    Is this an adventure game? Platformer?

    Thanks!

    • Looks like yet another walking simulator. Fine if you like those, but personally I’d like to see more “adventure” games with actual puzzle solving that requires thought and effort, not just walking around and finding dialogue.

    • Hey zingakun, we like to intrigue ha! Yep it’s a story-driven adventure game. You’re led through the story via a series of puzzles, which we’ve worked hard to keep contextual to the story, and not feel mechanical. The story is at its heart!

    • I couldn’t disagree more, bh. This game looks intriguing and is story-driven. Leave the terrible moniker of walking simulator to games that actually deserve it, like everybody’s going to the rapture, or proteus.

  • Feel like this is what a blog post should be! A game that wasn’t on my radar but I’m definitely intrigued after reading this and seeing it’s only a few weeks away. Any news on a price point as well? Silly question here too – platinum?

    • Glad you enjoyed it Foxx! Hope you do decide to download and play the game. It’s a $15.99 price point, and is available to preorder in the European stores. Maybe the US store too?

  • Looks great! This game is definitely on my radar. Some say “walking simulator” like it’s a bad thing, but I love the genre. Fire watch, Gone Home, That Dragon Cancer, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture… this game has fine company!

    • Hey glassmusic, great to hear! And yes, there are some brilliant games on that list. We’ve aimed to produce a compelling story along with interesting puzzles. And the inclusion of a cast of characters hopefully adds another layer on top for you all to enjoy!

  • Is this a digital only game?

  • I’m buying it…. I hope it’s more than a walking sim. Yet to find adventure games as good as say Legend of Kyrandia. Why can’t they make a game like that with modern graphics? Some have come close…. Book of Unwritten Tales for example. But that’s still a side-scroller.

    • Hey ElektroDragon, great stuff! There are definitely some cool puzzles in Blackwood Crossing, so I hope you’ll like them :)

  • I’ll buy it for sure, maybe its a digital game.

  • I’m definitely intrigued by Blackwood Crossing, especially the tidbit about the development process. It sounds like Bioware could have benefited from that kind of feedback since the writing in Mass Effect Andromeda is atrocious.

    I decided to look for some trailers since they were none here. What I watched whetted my appetite even further! You should post or link to the trailers you have on Youtube.

  • Looks fantastic! Lots of great adventure games coming out on PS4 in the last few months.

    It seems like its color scheme and darker scenes would really pop in HDR — will it support HDR on release? 4K on PS4 Pro? Any use of the touch pad, light bar, or motion controls?

  • Can’t wait for this and What Remains of Edith Finch!

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