I Saw Black Clouds
Top Critic Average
Ultimately, how much you enjoy I Saw Black Clouds is going to hinge on your appreciation level for schlocky horror and low-budget psychological thrillers. It's an amusing enough diversion, but the story may leave you unsatisfied depending on your route through the game, and there's nothing here that you haven't already seen in a dozen straight to DVD clangers starring Stephen Baldwin or Tara Reid.
Though technically something of a wreck, I still enjoyed I Saw Black Clouds' narrative audacity. The choices the game makes aren't necessarily good, but they are often bold. Even through the rough editing and sound issues, the game still delivers some surprises and suspense. Holler at the screen and throw popcorn with your buddies, and you just might enjoy this one.
I Saw Black Clouds has very little to redeem it. The characters are unrealistic and the plot twists and turns in an incoherent manner that introduces continuity issues. Player choices occasionally make a difference but are often ignored and sometimes even dubbed incorrect. Endings are mixed up and player relationships are pointless, plus the game can be buggy too. The irony is that Shropshire has its fair share of ghost stories and it even claims to be the most haunted county in the UK. Maybe the game would have been better telling one of those stories instead.
I Saw Black Clouds has some bold ideas, but the execution on a structural and technical level is a total failure. Even if the writing, acting, and scene editing were immaculate - which they are not - it would not forgive how all of the decisions the player makes carry no weight. Decisions only have consequences in vague, indirect, unpredictable ways, and it's extremely unsatisfying to have so little control over a story that isn't overly engaging in the first place. The best decision you can make is to just not play I Saw Black Clouds.
As a player, I often felt appeased I Saw Black Clouds, like a child pretending to play their older siblings console. The controller is off and they're really in charge but I certainly feel like I've done something. I Saw Black Clouds isn't worth perpetuating that facade for. Sometimes, you're just better off putting the controller down and walking away.
Unfortunately, the shotty editing and hap-hazard final act leave something to be desired. It's a benefit to know that it can be completed in a single sitting, which might make for a fun, suspense-filled evening activity. Be prepared, though: it's going to be a bumpy ride.
Bringing together all the main techniques of the FMV genre, I Saw Black Clouds is a title that focuses on sensitive topics in a perspective of terror and tension that offers an acceptable gaming experience within its own limitations. Allowing the plot decisions to be made by the player, the main objective is to tell a story of friendship and personal overcoming that can be understood from different points of view causing impacts and emotions at specific moments, but that do not take the game to another level.
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It’s rough around the edges, but if you’re after a fairly easy-going adventure game (albeit with dark subject matter) to play through in an evening, you could do quite a bit worse than I Saw Black Clouds. There are undoubtedly better FMV games available right now, but this one still has the capacity to entertain. Just temper your expectations and you’ll enjoy the rollercoaster ride that it sends you on.
I'm legitimately upset that I didn't enjoy I Saw Black Clouds more. It seemed to have so much promise. There were glimmers of hope – I really enjoyed the classic ghost story until that was yanked into another direction, one that I still don't think makes a whole lot of sense. Unfortunately, the entire story seems too far-fetched, minus the supernatural aspect of all things. As far as I can tell, there's only one general direction it ever takes in the end, although I remain hopeful for those other endings. The biggest problem with the game is that choices are literally the entirety of gameplay but they don't seem to matter half the time anyway, so the entire thing feels like an exercise in futility. And all that nonsense and non-decisions really dragged it down.
For the developer’s first dabble into the interactive FMV adventure genre, I Saw Black Clouds delivered a dark, spooky, and immersive experience, enhanced by the interesting narrative and multiple diverse story pathways. The acting and cinematography were great, pulling you into the story as it puts you in the seat of the director, choosing what to say and how to react to certain situations. There were a few continuity issues and missing emotions, but they may have been intentional due to the multi-pathway aspect of the game. If you like psychological thriller movies and FMV interactive experiences, you’ll love trying to discover all the secrets within I Saw Black Clouds.