Throughout this past year, a reoccurring theme in my life has been self-reflection. I would typically hold these moments close to me in the form of journaling or sitting with my legs tucked under me while staring out into oblivion. I would never expect to find such introspection from an immersive experience, but Blackheart Collective’s RITUAL coaxed me into unpacking the personal baggage I kept hidden in the attic of my mind.
Blackheart Collective is an extreme immersive horror experience that has been making quite the name for themselves in the past year. Joshua Simon-Lake, the creative mastermind behind Blackheart Collective, and his remarkable team have managed to create a world within the limited confines of a virtual experience. With a couple online shows under their belts, they have managed to refine and expand their escapades to a wider audience.
RITUAL is a 9-day experience that took place entirely over the chat platform Discord. Since it features intense themes, manipulative tactics, and can be highly triggering, it is not recommended for everyone.
Participants were encouraged by a cast of eclectic characters and inciting tasks to share insights into their own dark pasts. The characters were extremely well thought out, and I enjoyed seeing their own growth within those 9 days. The interactions between them and the other participants seemed genuine and contributed well to the overall experience. There was a universal camaraderie that united both characters and participants, which was a welcomed surprise.
The tasks and insights in RITUAL fueled quite a bit of the interactions in the Discord. While many chose to bare themselves in the chat portion, I preferred the more intimate medium found within the tasks. They were poised as inquisitive questions to be answered in various formats. By allowing individuals to share at their own pace, participants were able to progress along different paths.
RITUAL boasts intricate characters and a loose storyline that allowed for participant interaction. While the depth regarding characters was admirable, it was difficult to follow the events occurring throughout the experience. In order stay up to speed and aware of the story as it progressed, participants had to catch up on messages in the Discord and be present for moments of story progression. This proved to be a bit difficult for me since I had quite a bit going on in my outside life. Despite that minor setback, I enjoyed the overall camaraderie, new friendships, and the accomplishment of digging deeper into my own identity that Blackheart Collective’s RITUAL provided me.