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The Black Tar is a mind control substance used by the Reapers that is pumped into water supply lines and water towers. The Black Tar is produced by Sasha, and is one of the powers granted to her by the Ray Sphere.
The Black Tar is transported via trucks, which are part of the side missions called Mobile Poison to destroy. There are two other missions in which you must stop black tar from spreading.
One is the story mission Nemesis Revealed, in which you must destroy machines that pump tar into the water towers.
In a side mission, called Dark Water, you must do the same thing, but only once. It is revealed in one of John White's Dead Drops that Sasha was experimenting on a form of the tar when she worked in the First Sons possibly indicating she had powers before The Blast, or at least, was aware of them.The Reapers apply the Tar to citizens by kidnapping them and locking them in cages located in their hideout within the Jackson Tunnel. The Reapers then use a machine to coat the innocent civilians in the Black Tar until Sasha's mind control kicks in and are given the Reaper uniform and weapons. Sasha also has a machine that sucks the Black Tar from her and transfers it to the machine that sprays it on the civilians.
The Tar can also be turned into a gas as shown when Kessler and the First Sons kidnap Sasha and drain the Tar from her. The pedestrians throw rocks, head butt, and do anything they can to hurt Cole. Cole manages to take down the balloons delivering the gas to the citizens, thus preventing the First Sons from turning the entire city against him.
Near the end of the game there is a news broadcast stating that a cure has been found for the Tar. The reporter also stated that because of this, the lockdown should end in a couple of weeks. Although if Cole is evil, he does not hear this broadcast.
Side effects of Black Tar immersion include hallucinations, sickness, and a mental link with Sasha. Prolonged exposure can lead to death or mental control. Reapers will often throw up a black substance when fighting, likely the Tar. This may mean that it multiplies within their bodies after prolonged exposure, or that continuous doses must be given to ensure continued mind control. Cole has shown more resistance to the tar than anyone else, most likely due to his abilities.
- When you overload the tar kegs in the side mission of Dark Water, you can create certain areas full of infected people.
- The Voice of Survival makes a reference to your actions on destroying the Tar pumpers, claiming you are destroying the water supply.
- Black Tar is likely a reference to another game produced by Sucker Punch, Sly Cooper: Honor Among Thieves. On the first map of the game, Venice, the boss infects several water supplies with black tar, even though it is not as fatal.