By Al Giovetti, 04/25/97
Developer: Take 2 Interactive Software
Website: www.take2games.com
Lead Artist:
Publisher: Mindscape
Website: www.mindscape.com

Black Dahlia


Dont confuse this game with the Black Dahlia novel by James Elway, Black Dahlia music, Seattle's Black Dahlia Lounge, or anything else you know as the Black Dahlia, save the one victem of an historical serial killer. In 1947, Elizabeth Short, an actress with a penchant for black which earned her the name of the Black Dahlia, was murdered. The Black Dahlia plot is based upon the historical events surrounding America's first serial killer.

There are three major historical phenomena that form the basis for the Black Dahlia story line. The first of these is the reign of terror carried out in the city of Cleveland by Americaís first modern serial killer. This cunning psychopath, known as the "Torso Killer," can be linked to dozens of slayings. Many of his victims were found dismembered and neatly wrapped in newspaper along a stretch of industrial wasteland called Kingsbury Run. He was never apprehended despite an intense and sometimes bizarre manhunt carried out by some of the dayís top law enforcement officers, including the famous "Untouchable" Eliot Ness. The killerís activities mysteriously ceased just before the outbreak of the Second World War, which, incidentally, is the next major historical event that plays a role in our story.

The rise of Fascism in Europe and the incomprehensible defeat of both Poland and France at the hands of Nazi Germany caused many to speculate that the Germans had more than a tactical military advantage over its opponents. To some this led to a conviction that a network of spies and traitors must have played a significant role in Hitlerís victories; to others, it pointed to supernatural aid. There can be little doubt that many members of the Fuhrerís inner circle were fascinated by mysticism, astrology, Norse myth and pagan Germanic ritual. Most notorious of these men was Heinrich Himmler, who created a dark pseudo-religion for his fanatical SS troopers. Its ceremonies involved death magic, satanic elements and strong links to prehistoric pagan rituals. There are many who claim that Hitler himself was a potent sorcerer. He is said to have drawn physical and ideological parallels between himself and Landulph II, a ninth century tyrant who was known to his contemporaries as the worldís most powerful black magician. It is an indisputable fact that both Hitler and Landulph chose the swastika to be their heraldic symbol. Many of these Nazi philosophies can be linked to the credo of a nationalist cabal who called themselves the Thule Society. This organization, which was instrumental in Hitlerís early political survival, was later banished by him in what some say may have been an effort to rid the Reich of rival mages.

Finally, the third, and in some ways most tragic, piece of history that has inspired our story is the murder of a young actress in Los Angeles, California. Elizabeth Short, a stunningly beautiful girl who was struggling to make a name for herself in the "Babylon" of Hollywood, never seemed to be able to escape a curse of unbelievably bad fortune which pursued her throughout her brief life. Having lost two fiancees in the war, it is said that she turned to drinking and promiscuity in a desperate effort to shelter her broken heart from overwhelming grief. It was in January, 1947, that police found her tortured and dismembered body in a vacant lot. A reporter covering this sensational crime immortalized the unfortunate Elizabeth Short with the nickname "Black Dahlia."

That year, many who were familiar with prior events in Cleveland were convinced the Torso Killer had struck again. Like the perpetrator of the Torso killings, the slayer of Elizabeth Short was never apprehended. He may in fact still be alive today.

Whatever motives these various historical figures may have had, it is not difficult to draw parallels between them. In fact, it was surprisingly easy to fabricate the connections that form our plot. A story that leads from the barbarous madness of the Torso Killer and the murderer of Elizabeth Short to the architects of the Holocaust who nearly succeeded in plunging our world into a new Dark Age. Wherever possible we did our best to remain true to the facts while at the same time balancing practicality and game play. Indeed many of the historical characters and events we unearthed in our research were literally too bizarre to be believed within the context of our game. It is sadly and frighteningly correct to say that, in many cases "truth is stranger" (and more gruesome) "than fiction."

The Black Dahlia design team examined countless sources during hundreds of hours of exhaustive research. The following links will offer a brief glimpse at some of the material investigated during the gameís development. It will also provide a list of supplementary information for those interested in searching out additional facts. We hope this sparks your curiosity and enhances your enjoyment of the game. We will continue to update the current links and add new ones as the release date nears.

Company Line

The Story: It is November, 1941. The world is rife with upheaval, misery and warfare. In both Europe and Asia the Axis forces, propelled by Hitler's Nazi stormtroopers, seem on the brink of ultimate military victory. Meanwhile, in the United States, political turmoil rages as the country wrestles with its conscience and clings desperately to its tattered neutrality. Each night stories of battle and bloodshed inundate the evening radio broadcasts. Each morning rumors of impending conflict fill the daily press. No fortress seems strong enough, no strategy clever enough, to withstand the approaching German juggernaut.

As images of holocaust and destruction abroad fix themselves indelibly into the consciousness of the nation, yet another evil has captured imaginations in Americaís heartland. Stalking the industrial ghettos of Cleveland and claiming victims far out into the surrounding countryside is the nationís first true serial killer. He is known in the press as "The Torso Killer" and "The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run" a cold and vicious murderer who carries on his trade seemingly unhindered by the best efforts of the dayís most prominent lawmen. This serial killer gains a reputation for ritualistically beheading his victims and then dismembering them with chilling precision.

Could it be that these brutal and inhuman murders are but the final sacrifices meant to fulfill an ancient black magic prophecy? A prophecy spun in the distant past which has now been taken up by Nazi fanatics who gloat over the smoking ruins of the old world and plot to enslave the new? From pre-war Cleveland to war-torn Europe to a Los Angeles flush with victory, Black Dahlia leads the player through an eerie landscape of death, deception, and occult mystery.

The game begins in the autumn of 1941. Your character is Jim Pearson, a young agent for the newly formed Office of the Coordinator of Information (a precursor to the Office of Strategic Services and later, the Central Intelligence Agency), who is investigating the activities of potential Nazi spies and subversives in Americaís Midwest. Before you are finished, you will have become an unwitting participant in an ancient supernatural saga which threatens to unleash unspeakable terror on an unsuspecting world. As the tides of dark deceit threaten to engulf you, the borders begin to blur between reality and illusion, fact and fiction. You must unravel the mysteries behind the torso killings and the murder of Elizabeth Short, known as the "Black Dahlia," in time to prevent humanityís greatest nightmare from becoming a chilling reality.

This is the premise for the new graphic adventure from Take 2 Interactive Software. Building on the success of our popular game Ripper, we plan to break new ground with the Black Dahlia project. Rather than returning once again to the familiar arena of a "Cyber Punk" future, we have decided to set our newest game in the war-torn world of 1941-1947. Instead of limiting ourselves to game play in just one city over a period of a few days or weeks, we will now provide the player with an opportunity to explore multiple locations through years of events.

The era that we have chosen for our tale is rich in bizarre historical facts and ripe for potential adventure. It has allowed us a unique opportunity to fill our game with real characters and documented occurrences. Black Dahlia has truly been inspired by actual events.

BLACK DAHLIA, due out in early Fall 1997, stars thriller veteran Dennis Hopper and Hollywood sweetheart, Teri Garr. Hopper contributed his talents to BLACK DAHLIA's cinematic video segments late in May in Los Angeles. Garr, a newcomer to multimedia CD-ROM titles, stepped into her role as a quirky psychic medium last month in Pittsburgh, PA. The industry buzz has already begun about the title's other stars: the more than 70 plot-related puzzles ranging from the cerebral to the graphical, filling an estimated 60 hours of suspense-filled gameplay, as well as some of the most dazzling environments seen to date in an adventure title.

Covering an estimated 6 CDs, BLACK DAHLIA features an unprecedented freedom of movement throughout 80-plus locations, all supported by a rich and researched historically-based story. Set in the 1940s in the US and Europe and intertwining the famed Torso Slayings of Cleveland with the unsolved "Black Dahlia" murder of Los Angeles, the title plunges the player into a world of horror and intrigue as the quest to prevent powerful magic from falling into the wrong hands ensues.

Game Play

In the game you explore over 60 locations which you explore and gather clues. The plot will involve 75 puzzles which relate directly to the plotline, the puzzles will involve the normal puzzles and what to do in real time combat sequences.


You play Jim Pearson, a young agent in Cleveland who investigates a pro-German organization for a new federal agency, the Office of Informaiton. The routine investigation turns into the hunt for Americas first serial killer, tagged by the media as "the Torso Slayer."



There are three hours of cinematic film which are overlayed with computer generated background. Like the Ripper game, the Black Dahlia will feature Hollywood actors and actresses cast in the parts played in the game. The cinematic sequences should be smoother than the Ripper with new proprietary technology Take 2 has developed for the game.

Voice Actors

Dennis Hopper and Teri Garr

Music Score

Sound Effects


Multi-player Features

Cheats, Hints, Walkthrough



Black Dahlia Web Site at Take 2

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