Have You Played… Black Closet?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Black Closet [official site] is set in an girls boarding school, in which you play as a class president with an unlikely amount of power to interrogate, search and apprehend fellow students who pose a threat to the reputation of your school. But whether that setting appeals or not hardly matters: it is a procedural detective game better than any other.

There are scripted events. For example, perhaps a student has been selected to display a painting at a coming social event for the school’s wealthy families. Perhaps there is a rumour that this student has painted something inappropriate, something that would cause a stir, and the painter is refusing to show the piece to anyone ahead of time.

But the details of the case will be different each time, and it’s your job to convince that student to show you the painting ahead of time. You do so by directing your minions – fellow students and student council members – to follow, intimidate, search and question the suspect or their friends. Gather enough information in time and you may avoid disaster.

Or you may fail and become a scapegoat for the disrepute brought upon the school. Either way, the journey is the fun more than the outcome, both in the relationships you form with your fellow students and the stats you develop through the completion of each case.

Black Closet is a smart, well-written, choice-and-consequences game that deserves more attention.

20 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Lexx87 says:

    This sounds good, but i’m going to try the available demo before splurging 20 dollars on it I think!

    Quick Graham fix the “an girls” before ‘they’ arrive…

  2. Matt_W says:

    Emily Short just yesterday put up a long review of this game. She seemed to like it quite a bit.

    Black Closet is a funny, charming, massively Bechdel-passing game whose main verbs are social actions. It models friendship, community, and romance, with characters who reveal more depth the longer you spend with them. It honors and ramifies your choices, and it provides both small-scale and large-scale interesting decisions throughout.

    • Zelos says:

      Referencing the Bechdel test in a review should be grounds for your opinion being dismissed entirely.

      That said, I did think the game was pretty good.

      • FrumiousBandersnatch says:

        Saying that referencing the Bechdel test in a review should be grounds for its opinion being dismissed entirely should be grounds for dismissing your opinion entirely.
        But apart from that, it was pretty good.

      • Matt_W says:

        Obviously you’re free to accept or not accept someone else’s opinion based on whatever criteria you dream up. I’m not sure how Bechdel could possibly be a negative, given that it’s basically shorthand for “has women who interact with each other” but I don’t understand the ways of dudebros.

        • Zelos says:

          The problem is that doesn’t actually mean anything. Passing or failing is a matter of female characters being in the game. Which is largely irrelevant to matters of sexism, or anything else.

          So to reference a game’s pass/fail status of this “test” in either a positive or negative light is absolutely absurd. The writer is demonstrating that they are judging a game based on insignificant and meaningless metrics.

          The only time it might be relevant is if a game is absolutely filled with women and manages to fail. But I can’t imagine that happening outside of a harem VN.

          • Matt_W says:

            Passing is a matter of multiple women being in the game and interacting with each other about something other than men. It’s significant precisely because it’s astonishingly uncommon for games/movies to pass. For instance, Ant-man, Fantastic Four, and Sicario all fail, despite all having a woman as a major character. Also Ms. Short’s review is quite length and includes the Bechdel test in a single sentence near the end, so it’s not like she’s using a single criteria for judging the game, like you are of her review.

          • Zelos says:

            Being uncommon isn’t enough to make it significant. This is particularly true of video games. We’re not going to fault Tetris or Duck Hunt for failing, are we?

            It would have to actually mean something, and even in incredibly long games filled with dialogue, it absolutely doesn’t. The Bechdel test tells a person nothing other than whether something passes the Bechdel test.

            You’re right that I’m nitpicking though. I haven’t read any of her review beyond that single blurb. But I’d absolutely wager that there’s more wrong there than just that single line. The whole point is that it’s indicative of having the wrong mindset.

            On top of that, the game in question is actually fairly sexist. There are some real problems with the writing and characters. I would’ve assumed it was made by a man if I didn’t know that to not be the case. So to tout the test as if it proves the game is fair to women is flat out wrong.

          • DoktorV says:

            The Bechdel test is only relevant to pieces which include social interaction, so applying it to puzzle games or something like a flight simulator or reflex-challenge game with no dialogue would be meaningless. It also doesn’t really serve as an indication of whether a piece is sexist or not. Hunie Pop passes even in male-protagonist mode, barely, but is arguably deeply sexist in its theme of women as prizes to be won. Hunt for Red October fails, because it has no inter-women dialogue, but it isn’t sexist because it’s intended to be vaguely-plausible military fiction. To this end, the story depicts mostly-military men doing mostly-military things, mostly aboard submarines, whose relevant authorities deem should be crewed only by men. Whether the social framework that created this situation is sexist is a separate question.
            Is the Bechdel test useless? It provides a very simple metric for bringing awareness to the possibility that there is a problem, either with a particular piece or the social-cultural framework that the creator(s) were working in when they made the piece. The test is reasonable in this sense, though it is perhaps easy to use improperly.

      • mouton says:

        Oh noez, ze feminists are coming

      • HERP DERP NANOMACHINES says:

        Freedom of speech is great unless you talk about women, then you need to be censored at all costs.

    • Monggerel says:

      I wonder what Emily Short would say about Crusader Kings II.
      Wait, I know.

      “Funny, charming, massively Bechdel-passing game whose main verbs are social actions. It models friendship, community, and romance, with characters who reveal more depth the longer you spend with them. It honors and ramifies your choices, and it provides both small-scale and large-scale interesting decisions throughout.”

      • SuddenSight says:

        Does Crusader Kings II pass the Bechdel Test though? Sure, there are a lot of named women, many of whom die unmarried, but typically the only ones that matter are the ones who marry monarchs. You can (with some effort) get a female monarch, but even then most the council positions are male-only and so are most of the other rulers. Setting up a conversation between females where marriage isn’t the primary topic is possible, but difficult.

        • Guzzleguts says:

          It really depends on whether you’re playing as a Buddhist, Cathar or stupendously lucky Basque.

  3. Innocent Dave says:

    I bought it after reading about it on this very website, grew attached to the characters, lost about halfway through, and now can’t go back. It sits on my desktop, taunting me, but resetting those characters and their lives just doesn’t feel right somehow.

    I’m really hoping I get over that sometime though, because it was awesome and I’d love to play it again.

    • X_kot says:

      I hope that you do make it through, because the ending is pretty satisfying if you’re invested in what happens to the main characters. Plus there’s all of the CG to unlock!

      Note that the end-game difficulty ramps up a lot, and you’ll need a lot of good items and highly-specialized minions.

      • Gormongous says:

        Yeah, the majority of the game makes you feel like having a few jack-of-all-trades characters is okay, but for the endgame you need to have at least a couple of highly specialized ones and the items to boost them even higher… That’s maybe the only unpleasant thing about this amazing game, to me.

  4. Oakreef says:

    I didn’t realise this was out.

  5. Llewyn says:

    Thanks for the reminder, I’d forgotten all about this one.

  6. Rince says:

    I love the game. The intrigue, the setting, the ambience, the music, and the plus of having yuri.

    Shame that I’m not extactly secret service material as I managed to lose every single time that I tried.
    I manage to do okay at first. But then my failures start to pile up and I’m doomed.

    Maybe I should try to play in easy mode the next one.