Talking to the dead is a rare skill. In fact, it’s generally reserved to mediums, necromancers and a handful of movie and novel protagonists. Shame really, because it would provide us a unique view into the past. So, we’ll just have to make do with games like The Black Widow, developed by Richard Fox of Flux. The Black Widow gives you the ability to speak to Louisa Collins, Australias first convicted serial killer and determine if she was as guilty as they believed at the time.
Black Widow puts you in charge of a Ouija Board with an open spirit-world connection straight to Louisa Collins, a woman hanged in Australia in 1889 for the murder of her two husbands, Michael and Charles.
The game itself has a very simple premise, you listen to the disembodied head of Louisa Collins as she talks about herself, her life and the trial. Using the Ouija board, you would then enter keywords into the board, these keywords may have one or more recordings associated with them. Listening to those recording’s will not only provide more information on Louisa and her life but will also offer possible new keywords that can be searched for. For example, listening to the recordings for ‘Guilty’, gives you (amongst other things) the name of her first husband Charles, using Charles as your next keyword gives you 9 more recordings to listen to, one of the keywords within those nine recordings is the name of her second husband (Michael) and a couple of her children.
It’s not linear so you can attempt any keyword at any time, you can also just try adding random ones to see if they have any recordings. Once you get into the story you’ll find that you have no shortage of keywords. Thankfully there are ways to make your path just that little bit easier. Firstly, you can push one button above ‘Yes’ on the left that shows you all the keywords you’ve found that had videos on them, secondly and far more importantly you can turn subtitles on and off or include hints. These are found by way of a button above No on the right.
All that’s required of The Black Widow is to keep trying keywords and then to listen to more recordings. Ultimately, building up a picture that will help you understand if Louisa was truly guilty of murder.
There are over 100 different videos to watch in total, and with the various accents it’s easy to misunderstand the spelling of a word. They don’t go out of their way to tell you about these functions, except for a line or so in the help file, though it’s worth hunting them down.
Everything about The Black Widow is fairly simplistic, the premise, the control method, graphically it’s certainly only above average but nothing to write home about. However, where this game truly comes in to its own is that spooky, eerie feeling you get as you listen to a voice from the past talking, and reading the original court records and letters from over 100 years ago. Louisa is brilliantly voiced, by Amber Cunliffe, and she brings a real authenticity to Louisa, that can bring chills to your spine.
How you receive this game will all boil down to your love of history, it’s closer to an audio-novel than an actual game, so those with less of a fondness may find that Black Widow is sadly lacking in playability.
The Black Widow is available on PC’s, Smartphones and tablets.