With October right around the corner, horror games are coming out of the woodwork. One of my favorite types of horror games include heavy story line psychological horror. This is why The Black Widow really peaked my interest. Developed and published by Flux, this game tells the story of Australia’s first female serial killer and her trial and eventual execution. The voice lines read throughout the game are pulled directly from court files which is haunting on every level. While it isn’t your typical video game, it definitely has an interacting story.
I was hoping that The Black Widow would be a more visually engaging game. The trailer we saw had images of graveyards and I was almost expecting this would be more of a walking sim or flashback cut scenes. However the only scene we are treated to throughout the game is the card with the alphabet and the face of the woman. When you type in a word, you are able to access memories and listen for key words that will open up more information. I wish we would have been able to see some of the scenarios play out in a cut scene. I also wouldn’t have mind a change of scenery while playing instead of always looking at the same screen.
The Black Widow only seems to have one real mechanic, typing in words to find more voice lines. While the lines are playing you need to pick out words and phrases that might draw out more answers. This makes the game a little less engaging as you are just constantly trying to listen for something. Most words bring about answers so trying to solve it like a puzzle is very easy. Because the game follows this mechanic, the story bounces back and forth and can become a bit confusing if you are not paying complete attention to what is being said and going on. There is a way to look back at what words you have asked, but there is no transcript for the answers you have already gotten to check back into. This would have made remembering different facts easier as well.
The biggest draw into The Black Widow is the story line itself. The idea that you are listening to someone who has passed and that this is pulled from the archives of an actual court case really draws you in. Trying to sift through the story to pick out a good path to move down and decide if what she is saying is true is the most engaging part of the game. Being able to learn more about an iconic piece of history is interesting but it feels more like a school assignment. I really think this type of game would work well in that aspect. Solve the problem and learn through an interactive atmosphere.
I really loved the story line and what we learn during The Black Widow however I did not like how we got it. After being told that this would be an interactive murder mystery I was a bit disappointed in how underwhelming the game play is. I feel it might work better on mobile but on PC it is just very underwhelming. If you are interested in history or this type of story but want something a bit more interactive than just reading about it, I suggest this game. If you are looking for a murder mystery type game that will give you a good fright, then this would be a hard pass.