I Saw Black Clouds begins with a warning that tells you that the game features graphic depictions of suicide and then about four seconds later someone commits suicide. The deceased is a troubled girl named Emily and we move swiftly on to her funeral where we're introduced to Kristina and Charlotte who are determined to get to the bottom of why she did it. We play as Kristina, who is either English or Scottish depending on what scene you're in.
This is a live action interactive psychological thriller in which real actors do real acting just like in a real movie, only you control the action by making the decisions. In terms of writing, acting, and special effects, I Saw Black Clouds isn't on a level with something you'd see in the cinema, or even late night on Channel 5, feeling more on a par with an elaborate end of year school play. If you think that's scant praise then you clearly never came to one of our school plays.
The whole thing has a low budget feel to it, and not just because of the aforementioned acting or special effects. There's an awkward pause every time you have a decision to make which is totally understandable due to the nature of the title, but also inescapably distracting. The editing, too, could do with some work, as whenever you make choices the background music or conversations jarringly transition because you won't necessarily be watching the scenes in the order they were filmed.
The story pans out differently depending on choices that you make, and it's actually quite impressive how wildly different the plot paths can be. While you're always going to be funnelled into one of a handful of endings, how you get there can be totally different. We played it three times and while two runs were pretty similar, one was roughly half-comprised of footage we'd never seen before, and the narrative went in a totally different direction.
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.