Review – I Saw Black Clouds
I Saw Black Clouds is an interactive full motion video (FMV) experience, putting players in control of Kristina’s actions and dialogues as they essentially watch and shape a movie. Opening with a monologue that precedes the suicide of a girl named Emily, the deeply emotional narrative tone is set and what follows is a tale of mystery, revelations and supernatural happenings.
As there are hundreds of decisions for the player as Kristina, it is difficult to describe the story as it veers in several alternate directions based on the decisions made. To paint a picture of I Saw Black Clouds it is safe to say that Emily’s death has shaken Kristina and their mutual friend Charlotte. The majority of this interactive experience digs into the circumstances of Emily’s death via her diary and the subsequent quest for answers. How the story evolves from there is up to the player with decisions that have either minor or major implications in the direction it takes.
The inclusion of supernatural elements is interesting and the relevance to how this relates to Emily’s death is effective and fitting. The overall mood and tone is solemn, desperate and emotional, particularly in regards to how Kristina’s quest for answers evolves alongside the narrative.
Several moments are unsettling, tense and executed well, although there are more than a few scenes that feel like filler, padding the story and length out for no particular reason. Narration from Emily over the top of Kristina’s exploration add to the weight of Emily’s death and the impact it has had on Kristina. Emily’s emotional descent is revealed through her journal and therapy sessions that are tragic and disturbing to witness unfold. I Saw Black Clouds is undeniably Emily’s story told through the lens of Kristina and effectively so.
This form of interactive experience, essentially a playable movie, is likely to either satisfy or frustrate its players as the gameplay is literally just choosing between one to three actions or lines of dialogue, alternatively doing nothing at all is a viable option too. Genre fans will be prepared for this type of experience and will enjoy exploring alternate decisions in future playthroughs.
The only other gameplay feature is viewing a character card type screen which displays Kristina’s current emotional state, relationship with other characters and her own character stats, all based on the decisions made.
The live action scenes are well shot and I Saw Black Clouds genuinely feels like a legitimate cinematic experience. The acting from the handful of characters is respectable and for the most part translates well into this film/video game hybrid.
The sound design is effective, with creepy sound effects, an ominous score and unsettling jump scares. It’s difficult to fault the cinematic presentation with the singular exception of the sudden sound jumps between scenes that follow a decision. The sound can suddenly cut out and shift with the new scene in a disconnecting manner that dampens the immersion of the experience.
I Saw Black Clouds comes in at around an hour and a half, the average length of an actual film but the play time is significantly more for those who want to replay it and make alternate decisions to experience different versions of it and see the various endings. Previously observed scenes can be skipped in subsequent playthroughs for those only interested in seeing what they missed.
DAYNE for One More Game
6 – Above average – As stated, this game is above average. The game provides a solid experience while not delivering anything outstanding. It’s a game that fans of the series will definitely enjoy but one that others may want to wait for a sale.
Please click the link here for a full rundown of our rating scale.
I Saw Black Clouds was reviewed on an Xbox Series X and is also available on Xbox One/Series S, PlayStation 4/5, Nintendo Switch and PC.
This review can also be found at Games of DAYNE at the link here.