The Blackwell Legacy

Procedural quest: Why there are so few police procedurals in gaming

Wes Fenlon at

Flip through the channels on cable TV for more than a minute, and there's a good chance the weathered face of Detective Lennie Briscoe or the salt-and-pepper shag of Jack McCoy will fill your screen. Law & Order reruns will be around forever; the original series ran for 456 episodes over 20 years. Throw in spin-offs and there are more than 1000 episodes. CSI and NCIS have run for hundreds of episodes. The popularity of procedural shows never wanes: day-in, day-out, the formula never changes, but we keep watching. Procedurals like Law & Order and CSI are the reliable backbone of entertainment: sturdy, consistent, always there to give you what you need without doing anything too new or exciting. We love procedurals. So why, if the genre is so enormously, enduringly popular, on TV and in books and even movies, are there so few police procedural video games?

Predictable-but-entertaining detective stories and courtroom dramas have dominated primetime for 60 years, but you can count the successful, well-known procedural games on a couple hands with fingers to spare. When HBO's True Detective did something bold and new with the formula, it became the most talked-about TV show in years. It also made me realize that police procedural games are practically nonexistent. I couldn't figure out why, so I decided to talk to game writers and designers, from the creator of Police Quest to the writer behind Spec Ops: The Line, to answer that question.


Blackwell Epiphany review

Phil Savage at

It's fitting that, in the year the old guard of adventure game creators return with Broken Age, Broken Sword and Jane Jensen's Moebius, the Blackwell series reaches its conclusion. Across four previous games (and The Shivah before them), Wadjet Eye's paranormal investigations have quietly provided a confident variation on the classic point-and-click.