Black Mirror - The Review
Way back in the early 2000’s, PC gamers were treated to a trilogy of games known as Black Mirror. Proving popular, the Gothic Horror series, has now been rebooted for current generation platforms, and is named Black Mirror, without any suﬃx or number. Can King Art Games latest title recapture the atmospheric tension, and will the game live up to its predecessors? Only one way to ﬁnd out. Let’s read on.
Set in the early 1900’s, protagonist David Gordon is contacted, requesting him to return home from India, to a remote Scottish castle known as Sgathan Dubh. For those who are unaware, this is a Gaelic name. His father has passed away, and David is to inherit this magniﬁcent home, which is also home to Lady Margaret, Angus McKinnon and several other important characters you will meet along the way. Lady Margaret is a stern, cold woman who obviously has no time for niceties, while Mr McKinnon as he prefers to be called, is ever the professional as the castles Butler. Upon meeting this pair, you will be escorted to your room upstairs, and kindly advised to not go wandering. Cue the camera locating itself across the landing as you head towards your room. A sinister being awaits? That’s not for you to ﬁnd out yet. Once in your room, and alone, you gain control of David Gordon, and it quickly becomes apparent that sleep is far from on your mind. Time to go and explore the building, and ﬁnd out what exactly is happening inside this cursed walls. Grab your candle, and leave your room.
The ﬁrst thing I noticed, was just how dark and sinister Sgathan Dubh was. Lifeless and eerily quiet, with the sound of your footsteps and candle light being all that stand out at ﬁrst. Exploration is key to advancement of the story, and the game will never allow you to wander oﬀ into sections of the game that aren’t meant for you just yet. Your quest log will give you direction of your next objective, but it’s up to you to discover everything before you. The game world isn’t huge, and it’s not hard to ﬁnd your way around after some exploration. But one thing that killed the immersion for me pretty quickly, was the long loading screens between each room. This was especially annoying when all it did was load up a small corridor that connects the larger areas of the castle. This aside, Sgathan Dubh is a creepy place, that always left me wondering if there was a jump scare around the next corner.
As it’s been tagged as a Gothic Horror, there is no real horror as such. But the tension and atmosphere generated by the narrative, and exceptional voice acting are convincing for each of the cast of characters who are all unique in this small and disturbing world of Black Mirror. Rory, who is the gardener and general maintenance man, was certainly an intriguing individual, that I completely misjudged throughout, along with almost everyone else thinking about it. The story delves deep into the history of the curse of the Black Mirror and of course, the people associated with Sgathan Dubh, namely the Gordon family. I felt involved from start to end, unraveling the mystery and learning about the agendas of each NPC I met.
There is an issue with some screen tearing inside the main hall of the building, which isn’t a massive criticism, as the developer is a small team. But along with a slight lack of emotional expression, and characters eyes not looking in the direction of other character from time to time, the game is an enjoyable experience, and if you can forgive these small issues, like me you will feel satisﬁed having invested your time into the game. The other problem I encountered, was the master key, and putting it to use. It has pieces that can be rotated to ﬁt any lock, and adjusting this is awkward in the menu, as you can’t just select a piece, rather you need to move the key about on screen until the piece you need to adjust is highlighted. Once you ﬁnd the other pieces to attach to it, this is made even more awkward.
Full of tension and mystery, Black Mirror has a fantastic story that fans of the point and click genre will enjoy. Set in a dark game world, lighting plays a key part throughout. Once outside in the garden, and down by the lake the game has a beautiful presence to show oﬀ, with the lakeside and the old dilapidated chapel up on the hill. Thankfully movement around these areas isn’t slow, as David picks up the pace whenever outside of Sgathan Dubh.
During the story, you will encounter various visions of the past, whereby you must interact with the spirit forms of family members to solve situations, discover items, and in turn advance the story. Get it wrong though, and you’ll have to try again. They’re not hard when you know what to do, and she’s some light on your grandfather, who Lady Margaret sees only in a good light, and will sing his praises whenever she can. Certainly a delusional and sharp tongued old woman. The whole cast though, always seems to know more than they care to let on, which constantly left me wondering what they were hiding, and what their ultimate purpose was. You will unravel their story as you advance, and if you ﬁgure them out early on, then I tip my hat to you, as it wasn’t until the ﬁnal chapters that I would discover exactly what everyone was really like.
The audio is left mostly to the ambient eﬀects throughout, with voice acting providing most of the audio that you’ll encounter during your play through. The end credits score though, is exceptional, and like most gamers, I usually skip this section. But for Black Mirror, you would do well to listen to it in its entirety.
Gameplay is easy to pick up, but the camera can be awkward at times. Not fully ﬁxed in place like the old Resident Evil game, you have a degree of control over it, although it seems to have a mind of its own at times, and doesn’t focus fully on David. Not the worst camera control, but not the way either.
For those who like to hunt achievements, Black Mirror has a list that will see you unlock almost all through natural progression. One of them has a requirement that could be missed if you choose to speak with Mr McKinnon instead of solving it another way. Other than that, play the game, and you should see them all if you pay attention to calming David down, and eating everything at breakfast.
Overall, Black Mirror is a fantastic game brought back into the modern day. Sure there is some polish still needed, and a wonky camera that needs attention, but look past these issues, and there is a deep, engaging story to involve yourself in, along with voice acting that brings each character to life. A worthy addition to your collection, especially if the point and click genre interests you. Would I like to see more from the developer and the series? The answer is a deﬁnite yes. But some last minute polish is a must.
Overall Score 8/10 Developer: King Art Games Publisher: THQNordic Release Date: 28th November 2017 Price: £29.99 (Available as a digital download and physical release) File Size: 10.86GB
Xbox One copy provided for review purposes
Available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 & PC