Originally released in 2003, The Black Mirror was a third-person point and click horror game. A very successful game, it would get two sequels before being rebooted at the end of 2017. The reboot would drop the point and click style of gameplay in favour of a more ‘free-roaming’ adventure style.
Set in 1926, players take on the role of David Gordon as he heads home to Scotland and the Gordon family home. David hasn’t ever stepped foot on the land his family own but with the recent suicide of his father, he has no choice but to go there and take up his position as owner.
What family does remain are cold to him and unwelcoming. Him begin something of an outsider. Not only that but they are unwilling to answer questions about the events surrounding his father’s death making David suspicious.
Discovering that his father was into the Occult, David realises the Gordon family are hiding secrets and the house and nearby castle might hold all the answers.
The story in Black Mirror is the games strength, a gothic tale mixed with occult themes and good old fashioned horror. Told over several acts and chapters, it feels like a novel. Just an interactive one where solving puzzles and working out where to go next is the crux of gameplay.
There’s variety in the aforementioned puzzles too but be warned, this is an old-school kind of adventure. Where a couple of these puzzles are hair-pulling in their deviousness. Still, they’re interesting and that sense of satisfaction that occurs when you overcome one is worth the stress.
The words ‘old school’ come up a lot while playing Black Mirror because of how it plays. However it is encased in a modern shell. Visually it is flawed with jagged edges, screen tearing and just ugly looking textures. However, the gothic locations are nice looking and the use of light during night time wanders really enhances the chill factor. Made all the better thanks to the sound effects and subtle music.
The control are another issue. Not being point and click you have to move David to an item or location to interact with it and it just doesn’t always work. Partially because the camera loves to move and position itself in the opposite direction that you’re going.
That becomes a real problem when you accidentally walk out the door you just came in and have to wait out another excruciating long load time. Black Mirror has a lot of loading and they’re all really, really long. It’s not made any better by a myriad of technical issues that just make the whole experience less fun.
Putting up with these problems is almost worth it because the story is so engaging. However, it is let down by a pretty lacklustre ending. As well as a finale that comes down to quick time events and button mashing.
Flawed. Black Mirror is flawed and that makes it hard to recommend to anyone but fans of old-school adventure puzzle games. The story, puzzles, voice-acting and locations will grab the attention but as it goes on, the issues start to pile up.