Wednesday 28 February 2024

Game 140: Black Sect (1993) - Introduction

 By Ilmari

I have no idea why this game was made.

Well that sounded a bit harsh, especially as I haven’t even played the game yet. It just seems a curious choice for Lankhor to remake and upgrade a low budget text adventure, which by all indications had no particular fan base and was old-fashioned even when it was published.

An even more curious creative choice is that the new game was never published in English. Mobygames tells me that an English translation was at least partially made and hidden somewhere within the game files – why see all that effort and not use it? Well, at least the existing translation has helped fans later in making an English version of the game. I’ll still aim for the most authentic experience and so will play the original French version.

Checking the manual, the framing story hasn’t changed a bit: a spellbook protecting a village from demonic forces  has disappeared and your task is to find it. The manual is still of interest, since it contains a long essay on the sociology of sects. Well, you might have to take the essay with a grain of the salt. One of its two sources was authored by a Catholic priest who thought that New Age movements were a Jewish conspiracy for world domination, while the other was written by a sensational journalist, who just lumped wildly different ideologies like Scientology (oppressively totalitarian hierarchy invented by a failed scifi novelist turned into a money grubbing fraud) and Hare Krishna -movement (bunch of vegan, Hindu-loving hippies who like to sing) into the same category of sects.

For some reason, the copy of the game I’ve picked starts without the intro animation. I checked it on Youtube: basically, it just shows a blackrobed person killing someone and stealing a book, so nothing new there. I am also not hearing any music or sound effects, although there should be such, but I guess I’ll have to listen to them from Youtube later.

I can already say that the graphics have made a great leap forward from the original. Text parser has also had to make way for an icon-based interface. There’s no less than sixteen actions (found within the clapboard on the right side) I could do:

  • Look
  • Take
  • Drop
  • Lift
  • Press
  • Break
  • Open
  • Close
  • Turn
  • Speak
  • Give/show
  • Use
  • Search
  • Pull
  • Put
  • Hide

This seems a bit unwieldy. To make things worse, you can’t really use some of these actions (like use, put and give), unless you hold some object in your hand. Since I haven’t picked anything yet, I really don’t know how that works in practice, just like I have no idea about the whole inventory system.

It will be interesting to see whether having played Le Secte Noire will in any manner help me in solving Black Sect. Well, at least if I get stuck, I can use the hint system (the lifebuoy), which seems as helpful as in the original text adventure (“search and you’ll find” it tells me in the first room of the game). There’s also a time limit - after three days of waiting the sect runs away with the spell book. This seems a bit anticlimactic: I thought the spellbook was required for protecting the village from the cult and then they just go away. Oh well, I guess any motivation is good motivation. Let the game begin!


  1. This doesn't really seem like a true, inspired classic. I'll guess 40.

  2. Let's go just a little more than the last game and say 30.

  3. Well, as we already have a 30 and a 40, I'll guess 35.

  4. The game looks tough to guess a rating from first glance. Nice enough presentation but an odd dated interface and I don't expect it will leave a strong impression. I'll guess it scores a little higher than Maupiti Island and say 44.

  5. I'll guess 45. Might play along, I was always interesting in this one, but I never got around to playing it.

  6. Drat I was aiming for mid forties, but let's shoot high with 50, the graphics my yet charm.

    You could also argue that the writer was mildly successful as a sci-fi writer before he lost his marbles, he did publish quite a bit of pulp and had some good reviews when he was still writing sci-fi as sci-fi.

  7. Never heard about this one, and it is tough to guess a score since the only image of the game is of its inventory (that, by the way, has too many different verbs). Blind guess: 39

    1. Sorry, not about its inventory, i meant verbs icons

  8. Kickstarter for a collector's edition of Broken Sword: The shadow of the Templars - Reforged:

  9. Hi friends,
    I've just discovered this blog and it is quite as impressive and useful as crpgaddict ! Thanks for this work.
    I don't know if this would be of any reference for you but I've compiled a database of every - and I mean EVERY - French adventure game ever released from the fall of King Louis XVI up to Life if Strange.

    Obviously, very few of them, from the current blog date of 1993, have been translated into English as required by the rules of the blog, but adventure was by far the main and most popular genre of the French 80's industry. I might dive and look for a few translated titles for the suggestion spreadsheet !

    1. While not my thing, that's a great, detailed list. While not appropriate as a mainline game, perhaps someone could play one or two as a missed classic, as the rules are a little less strict for those (we have a Japanese one being played right now). If you or anyone you know would like to tackle one of them, it's a corner of the world we haven't really explored here much yet.

    2. I'm assuming this is supposed to be a resource of just graphic adventures, since there are quite a few text adventures missing. Its also missing Galactic Empire, which, like Azrael's Tear, is an adventure game pretending to be a FPS. Didn't realize those Dracula titles were French either.
      That said, that's a great resource either way. Its hard to find early graphic adventures just by searching for them. I'd take advantage of it myself if I didn't let my French slip and I wasn't otherwise occupied language-wise.