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|8.7/10 - 3 votes
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|Old School Games, Cult Classic Games
It's A Well-Known Fact That Dear old Adolf Hitler had a bit of an interest in esoteric matters relating to black magic and the occult. He was so messed up in the head that he believed the fabled Spear Of Destiny - the big pointy stick responsible for piercing Christ's side while he hung from the cross -would help him win World War II. Who knows what happened there, then - perhaps its batteries were low? Still, it's an interesting enough subject to ensure we won't switch off a BBC2 documentary entitled Hitler's Interest In The Occult, even if we accidentally tuned into it while searching for post-watershed sauciness.
It's also a well-known fact that interactive movies are, by and large, about as entertaining as a flannel hanging from a drainpipe. Past examples of the genre have fallen flat on their ugly arses, and deservedly so. Therefore the question we are left with is: would an interactive movie relating to a subject as engrossing as Hitler's interest in the occult be a good thing, or a bad thing?
Good or bad?
Set in 1941, just before the USA got itself involved in WWII, Block Dahlia fits you out in the prerequisite trilby and trenchcoat of a fledgling FBI agent investigating a series of brutal murders - a background that alleges to be "inspired by actual events". Of course, as is the nature with these things, the murders are but the filthy scum atop a cup of rancid conspiracy coffee. It isn't long before your investigations have lead you halfway around the world to the war-torn streets of central Europe and the heart of the Nazi Reich.
Fascist or communist?
Via an interface that's as user-friendly as it is unoriginal, Black Dahlia drags you - in true, prerendered, 360-degree-o-vision - through a plot with more twists and puzzles than you'd have any right to expect. Naturally, being an interactive movie and everything, there are plenty of 'real' people populating the game, including Dennis Hopper (Blue Velvet, Speed}, who puts in a lengthy cameo appearance.
While much of the game is rather linear, the entire thing is well acted and slickly enough produced so that most of the time you barely notice that this is 'yet another tedious interactive movie'.
Freak or unique?
There are some 60 puzzles in Black Dahlia, which require anything from sorting through newspaper clippings and piecing together evidence, to dealing with tricky combination locks and the like. While you can appreciate that they had to be there for this to qualify as a 'game', we'd have been just as happy to kick back and let the entire thing play itself out. Like olives stuffed with anchovies, or sex utilising a variety of 'bells and whistles', interactive movies are an acquired taste, and by now you'll probably already have made your mind up whether to buy Black Dahlia or not. But if you're still undecided whether to leap head-first into that whole genre pool, you could do a lot worse than testing the water with this baby.