The Black Mirror franchise returns with a reinterpretation of the classic trilogy of graphic adventures, which takes us into the mystery of a huge Scottish mansion and the secrets hidden by the family that inhabits it. We analyze the new proposal, will it be up to the original work?
It may be one of the most unknown sagas of the graphic adventure, but the truth is that Black Mirror has been accompanying us since 2004 with three deliveries until 2011. The game we have now at hand is not just another installment, but a reinterpretation of the franchise, so it is important to note that you do not have to play any of the previous titles to venture into the present.
They are related, indeed, because Black Mirror continues to delve into the mystery of the mysterious Scottish home and the family heritage of the Gordon family, but its history and development and that of the game mechanics are completely different. Even the old house becomes something more coherent with traditional architecture than we found in the original work, more sinister and, by all accounts, fantastic.
History puts us in the shoes of David Gordon, who returns to the family farm after the death of his father in strange circumstances. Surrounded by our suspicious family, we will have to unravel the mystery surrounding the death of our father and our own ancestors, to the point of unearthing a greater and even darker mystery.
There is no doubt that Black Mirror, to tell its gothic story, contains a strong inspiration in the literature of Poe’s dark romanticism and Lovecraft’s terror, just like the original trilogy did. His story is followed with interest, but awkwardly in some dialogues and moments that do not finish shining. It does not help a mediocre translation, able to skip entire lines of dialogue and greatly simplify the most elegant phrases, to the point that, at a given moment of the adventure, we have preferred to change the texts to English to be able to follow the narrative well.
Same house, new foundations
The change with the original trilogy is substantial. From the classic point-and-click adventure, there is nothing left but an automatic inventory, since the development of this new delivery simplifies all actions to the point of turning it into a more exploration- centered story, in which simply by approaching each point of interest, this will be examined and, if you have the right object, the option to use it automatically will appear.
Thus, Black Mirror tries to modernize, which would be nothing negative if it were not because the exploration is quite slow and cumbersome. Going through the different rooms of this mansion can be a more than tedious task considering that the control of our protagonist, David, is coarse and prone to get stuck with any obstacle that gets in our way. Further desperate the constant interruptions of the game loads that, while not overly long, are abundant to happen every time we enter and leave a room, repeatedly cutting the rhythm.
If we add that (at least in the version of PS4 to which we have had access) the game behaves irregularly, with numerous pulls and slumps in the frame rate, the cocktail is quite explosive. It may be due to the unlocked frame rate that the title enjoys, but in any case, it seems quite annoying when it comes to browsing the mansion. THQ Nordic has already warned that they are working on a patch that will fix some bugs, but at the moment the operation of the game is not ideal.
Back to the classic puzzle
With the change to the exploration, practically all the puzzles that have to do with the interaction with the scenario and combination of objects are eliminated. In Black Mirror it is difficult to get lost and go around more than necessary unless you do not find a specific object for not approaching it too much. But once you have it in your power, the interface will automatically take care of using it at the right time. It is missing some time in all these actions, to the point that sometimes we have collected objects out of sight of the player without David himself making any comment about what it is, having to open the inventory to know what we have collected exactly.
Therefore, the moments where we will most have to squeeze the brain is in the most classic puzzles, where solve riddles, passwords, and riddles to open secret compartments and similar, based on examining either an object in the inventory or a portion of the stage itself. The puzzles are interesting and definitely the backbone of Black Mirror when it comes to presenting its mechanics. If you like these types of puzzles, you already have a good part of the way traveled.
Another cornerstone is the investigation of the past. Gordon has certain visions of events and people who once lived in the mansion and through these pieces is how much of the story unfolds, one that remains interesting at almost every moment, but that is weighed down by a technical section that in some Sometimes he can not give his characters a full life.
In general, the recreation of the house and its multiple rooms is well done, as well as the dark lighting by candlelight. King Art has created an engine here for the game, but everything that has to do with the characters that inhabit it leaves a lot to be desired, in its modeling (even that of the protagonist) and especially in some very poor animations in both the cinematic scenes as when interacting with David himself.
It has a strong inspiration in the literature of Poe’s dark romanticism and Lovecraft’s terror.
In short, we expected a lot more from Black Mirror. We do not care so much about his conversion from the classic point-and-click to a more modern adventure, we understand it perfectly. But the execution here is quite poor, with many failures that constantly interrupt the action or, rather, the exploration. It is noted that it is the first incursion of KING Art to a new technical scale because, with his work in other more classical works such as The Book of Unwritten Tales or The Raven, we had already shown that they perfectly mastered the art of making adventures and tell stories.
With The Black Mirror, however, we feel that it has not hit the key, because of these adventures more modern and, in principle, more accessible, require more technical work in terms of modeling, animation, and staging. In many moments, reaching these standards has ended up to the detriment of fluency, exploration, and puzzles. Its history, nevertheless, follows with interest and some puzzles are very obtained, although in other moments it can get to be something forced. Thanks to an ambiance also achieved, for some, it may be enough.
Black Mirror returns with a reinterpretation of the classic trilogy of graphic adventures, this time with a completely independent story, which can be played without having done it to the originals. Although it still contains good puzzles and a good setting, unfortunately, numerous technical failures greatly impede the flow of the adventure and especially the exploration, while many actions have been simplified enough, offering little challenge.
- Some puzzles, very fun to decipher
- The setting and some parts of the story are very successful
- Technical problems in the framerate and animations of the characters
- Failures in the translation, which distorts and simplifies the original script
- Exploration of the rough and somewhat slow scenario
- Abundant charges between scenarios