Ah, Curse of Blackmoor Manor. This was the first game I remember swapping puzzle tips with my mom growing up, so it houses many fond memories.
Linda, the daughter of Nancy’s next-door neighbor, recently moved to London and married Hugh Penvellyn, a successful ambassador. The couple recently moved into historic Blackmoor Manor, the Penvellyn estate that is full of mystery and home to intrigue and suspicion. Soon after moving to the beautiful and historically rich manor, Linda was taken by a strange illness. Nancy has been sent by her neighbor to investigate and help in whatever way she can.
Mrs. Petrov and Hugh Penvellyn, despite both asking Nancy to come and help out with Linda, are both unseen characters. Linda’s mom is at home in the States, while Hugh is off being an ambassador.
Linda (Petrov) Penvellyn is the most mysterious character in the game and the impetus for the entire story. Shortly after moving into Blackmoor Manor, she became ill with symptoms she doesn’t like to discuss. She refuses to be seen, and the few conversations she’s willing to have take place behind a thick bed curtain. She’s convinced she’s not ill, but cursed. Could she really be transforming into the legendary Beast of Blackmoor?
Jane Penvellyn is Hugh’s daughter from his previous marriage. She’s bright and loves to play games when she’s not in her studies, but her loneliness is obvious. Being schooled at the manor keeps her separated from her peers, her father is often out of the country, her mother lives in Paris, and Linda is completely occupied with her illness. The only real interaction she has with anyone besides Nancy is with Ethel, her tutor.
Ethel Bossiny tutors Jane, as the Bossinys have tutored the Penvellyns for centuries. She’s not particularly talkative, since most of her time at the manor is spent in lessons with Jane, then she leaves. But she does show up occasionally, and always in places you wouldn’t expect. Pair that with her odd lesson focuses, and you’ve got quite the suspicious character.
Mrs. Drake is Hugh’s aunt, who has been living in the manor for years. She doesn’t believe in the dark tales surrounding the manor, and thinks you would do well to ignore such nonsense as well, thank you very much. She is slightly worried about Linda, but thinks she’s just being overdramatic, so her sympathy is limited. Instead, most of her warmth is reserved for her large collection of exotic plants.
Nigel Mookerjee is a writer who’s determined to spread the as-yet untold story of the Penvellyn family. Mrs. Drake has allowed him full reign of the library for his research, but he seems much more interested in rumor and scandal than true family history. He is particularly interested in the Penvellyn family treasure and may just be clever enough to sicken Linda in order to chase the family off the property.
LouLou is a parrot that has been in the Penvellyn family for a long time. She’s old and clever, and is a great resource for hints and information about the castle and its secrets. Plus she’s really cute.
CoBM continues the strong gameplay mechanics of Secret of Shadow Ranch, which is definitely a plus. Nancy still has her semi-smart phone, her notebook with tasks and observations, and a subdivided inventory screen. All the features continue to “just work” without getting in the way of the game.
The atmospheric manor makes a great backdrop for a game, and it’s a grand time exploring all its various nooks and crannies. I became occasionally frustrated by the amount of running back and forth required to do a lot of the puzzles, but since everything takes place within the manor, it never took very long.
Going purely on gut feelings and no real facts at all, CoBM is the longest game of the series so far. Towards the end of the game, I was certainly ready for it to be over so I could move on, as the manor was becoming all-too familiar.
What Makes This One Special
No new features are present in CoBM, but that’s ok. Secret of Shadow Ranch revolutionized the way the series is presented, and having two games to settle into those features works well.
Definitely give Curse of Blackmoor Manor a spin if you haven’t already. It’s a great game with excellent puzzles, and only mildly frustrating travel mechanics (I’m still not quite over Danger on Deception Island yet). Perfect for those who are familiar with the point-and-click mystery genre, but also a great hook for those who haven’t yet experienced such games.