Black Mirror (PC) Review – Reflection of Boredom
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One
Developer: King Art Games
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Release: 28th November 2017
Black Mirror, a name associated with many things, like the point´n click games that were released years ago or more commonly the quite great Netflix series. So THQ Nordic´s attempt to revive this long forgotten game series may surprise many but the outcome is certainly nothing to be too excited about nor something you should pay too much attention to.
Black Mirror centres about David Gordon who visits his family house for the first time after his father died, as he is now invited to inherit the giant villa with all its employees. A solid base to tell a classic gothic story, around mysterious staff, deaths and many more supernatural things. THQ Nordic and King Art often referenced Lovecraft as a big influence on their setting and Black Mirror in general.
In its 4 hours short campaign it actually manages to tell a decent story, doing everything you would expect but avoids at being too obvious. I mean, you know there is a mystery and that a murder will happen, while the staff knows more about the situation than you, but while all those things are true, the plot beneath is never predictable to a point where every it would become uninteresting. Unfortunately, the pacing and climax curve are the real problems of the writing and delivery.
There´s never any real tension or build-up to the twists, the whole thing simply feels like an endless even way. At one point a murder might happen or an important secret is discovered but instead of focusing on this big event, the game decides to rush through it as fast as possible. Between the set-up and resolution of every obstacle are often only a few minutes till have an hour at max. Additionally, the game even manages to lose track of some things, resulting in situations where I didn´t know what my goal was or why this is happening.
If anybody now hoped the gameplay could improve this rather short experience, is bitterly mislead. Playing almost identical to any Telltale or console point´n click game, David explores the mansion or occasionally other areas, hoping to find things to interact with and try to figure out what he´s supposed to do. Really, most of the time Black Mirror does such an awful job at explaining your goals, that I often didn´t have the slightest clue.
Surely you could argue how it´s necessary to explore the area but the game simply doesn´t work like that. First of all, even on PC loading times are long and performance is bad. Every room and area is separated by dark walls and seconds of loading, once a room is entered my fps regularly dropped by 10-30 because there were some slight lighting effects and at the end, I still didn´t find anything useful. The fact David controls like a modern tank doesn´t help the fun either. Black Mirror feels so unresponsive and sluggish when you´re forced to change rooms quickly, that exploring becomes more of a nuisance than a fun experience.
However, I´m not done without speaking about the “puzzles”, excuses to deliver a handful unchallenging little riddles. From collecting a few items, to stand in the right spot or att he very max use some brain to decipher an obvious code. Only once in the entire game did one of them challenge me, simply because I didn´t know the camera could be moved while zooming in on an object, yes, it was the first one. Otherwise, they are simple, easy and far from point´n click-worthy.
Black Mirror is really nothing special, despite its potential and name. Offering a way too short 4 hours story mode, infused with boring puzzles, flawed design and a sometimes horrible performance. At the end, it´s practically nothing more than a Telltale game but for more money, while having less content. A shame, honestly.
[A Review Code was provided by THQ Nordic]