My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet by heaven, I think my love as rare,
As any she belied with false compare.
–from Sonnet 130, William Shakespeare
Shakespeare’s sonnets 127-154 describe a love for a mysterious woman, named the Dark Lady by literary historians. These scholars have speculated about the identity of this woman for 400 years. In Black Sonata, available now on Kickstarter from Side Room Games, players are given the opportunity to explore this historical mystery themselves and seek out the true name of Shakespeare’s Dark Lady.
Black Sonata is a game of “solitaire hidden movement and deduction” for 1 player, aged 14+, and takes 30 minutes to play. The setting is London, England, during the time of William Shakespeare, where the solo player will be pursuing the shadowy Dark Lady across a map of the city. Her movements are controlled by a stealth deck, which is arranged during setup according to sequences that can yield 56 possible paths, providing plenty of variability and replayability. Using unique keyhole cards to investigate the locations you suspect she’s been to, you’ll begin to glimpse traits and characteristics that allow you to home in on the true identity of the Dark Lady.
The game has garnered high praise already, with a number of positive reviews linked on the Kickstarter page, and was even nominated for a 2017 Golden Geek Award in the Print & Play category. The campaign runs through July 1, 2018, and still has a number of stretch goals waiting to be unlocked.
It’s a great time to be a solo gamer! With the rise of solo modes supported in multiplayer games, and a proliferation of quality solo-only games, like Black Sonata, the options are extensive and exciting.
Random factoid: a handful of scholars don’t believe that Shakespeare actually wrote his works solo, but argue that he was part of a group of writers that collectively produced the oeuvre attributed to Shakespeare.