Black Mirror Review - Long Intervals of Horrible Sanity
The acclaimed Black Mirror series had a memorable run from 2003 to 2011, which is why the announcement of a new Black Mirror game came as a surprise to many fans of the gothic horror trilogy. Developer KING Art Games and publisher THQ Nordic have recently released a modern reboot of Black Mirror, allowing fans of the original series to revisit a new chapter in the Gordon family saga.
The new Black Mirror (not to be confused with the television series), centers around a new protagonist named David Gordon, who is on his way to Scotland to visit Black Mirror castle, which has belonged to his family for generations. With little more than a cryptic note left behind by his father, David must uncover the mysteries of the Black Mirror castle and learn more about the supposed curse on his family.
Black Mirror relies heavily on atmosphere and storytelling to convey its compelling narrative. The setting itself is quite dark, leaving plenty to the imagination as you walk through the halls of Black Mirror castle. Impressive sound design and minor jump scares add to the thrills as you try to figure out what mysteries lurk in the shadows.
The dark setting helps create an eerie atmosphere that is both mysterious yet intriguing. However, sometimes the shadowy corners and crevices can become a little too dark, making it difficult to fully appreciate the game’s gothic design elements.
While the voice acting in Black Mirror is superb and well-acted, the facial animations could use a bit of work. The stiff expressions on the character’s faces only bring down the dialogue and tarnish what are otherwise solid vocal performances.
As a modern take on the classic point-and-click horror adventure, one would think that fluid character controls and animations would be standard, considering the limited movement in these sorts of games. Walk somewhere, examine something, solve a puzzle, speak to a character, watch a cut-scene. This is at the very least what you should expect from the gameplay of basic point-and-click adventures.
While Black Mirror fulfills this basic gameplay loop, don’t expect much by way of the controls. Unintuitive camera movements and clunky controls get in the way of each task, making certain situations more frustrating than compelling. Simple activities like navigating through the halls from one room to the next or aligning properly with button prompts can often become arduous tasks, making this reboot feel ironically outdated, at least in terms of functionality.
The other horrific aspect of Black Mirror (beyond the intended thrills of the narrative) are its egregiously long load times between rooms. Moving from one area to the next prompts a black loading screen, which can last up to eight seconds at times. This doesn’t sound like much, but when a majority of the gameplay is spent exploring a room-filled castle and navigating back and forth between said rooms, these long load times can interfere with the game's pacing and become increasingly frustrating.
Black Mirror redeems itself somewhat through its puzzle design. Although there weren’t as many puzzles as I’d like, the puzzles that were in the game presented a decent challenge while remaining relatively doable. For players that enjoy the puzzle aspect of point-and-clicks, the ones in Black Mirror may be enough to compensate for the game’s various control issues and bugs.
Black Mirror is a decent horror adventure that happens to be marred by unfortunate gameplay problems. The long loading screens, clunky controls, and lackluster character animations drag down the game’s positive aspects, such as its well-designed atmosphere and thrilling horror elements. If you’re willing to overcome Black Mirror’s various issues, you’ll be left with both an intriguing horror story and some satisfying puzzles to boot.
- - Eerie atmosphere
- - Great voice acting
- - Intriguing narrative with decent plot twists
- - Challenging yet doable puzzles
- - Clunky controls and camera
- - Extra long loading screens between rooms
- - Dated, lackluster graphical animations
- - Several glitches and bugs