Now Playing: Black Mirror (PS4 – 2017 version)

This is another game where I should have known better, but dammit it was on sale! Black Mirror is a remake of the 2003 point and click adventure game of the same name, but this version is clearly going for some kind of modern Frogwares Sherlock Holmes type of consolized adventure experience. It can’t even seem to do that right though. For all their questionable streamlining changes to gameplay, at least the modern Sherlock Holmes games try to spice things up by throwing in a bunch of puzzles and investigative mini-games. Black Mirror instead just throws you into what’s essentially just a walking simulator where you press X to win that’s just pretending to be a point and click adventure.

This is how the game starts out and it doesn’t get much better than this:

Black Mirror seems to take great joy in taking all the worst elements of the original game and making them even more painful here. Much like the original, the game starts you off in the mansion, trying to figure out the circumstances of your father’s mysterious death and the strange secret of the family curse that everyone around you keeps dancing around. This involves searching the mansion over and over again looking for items or conversation trees that’ll trigger an event that’ll let you continue your investigation, which always seems to be getting forcibly halted by a locked door or an annoying interruption from one of the asshole characters.

Like I said, the original started out much the same way, but at least that one had the decency to have minimal load times and an option to double click to make your character move more quickly or even fast-travel right into the next room. Here you’re stuck moving at a pace that’s already uncomfortably slow, but is made excruciating by the facts that this version of the mansion is much larger thanks to the game now being 3rd person 3D and that there are horrendous fucking load times between each of the dozen or so rooms in this damned building. This makes searching the mansion the first time a tedious chore, and you can bet that it makes searching it the 2nd and 3rd times really fucking annoying.

You don’t have a choice. The plot persists in pulling you away from the progress you’re making in order to force the beginning of the next chapter, which basically starts you from scratch each time because you’re still locked out of that place you know you need to go and all you can do is run around all the same rooms again literally looking for some item or person that either wasn’t usable or wasn’t there at all the last time you checked.

Sometimes I felt like the game was just plain trolling me too, like when you’re directly told that you need to go to the cellar to investigate a murder scene, but of course the door is locked. The game flat out tells you that the butler has the key to the door, so naturally I go looking all over the damn mansion again for the butler, who isn’t in any of the last several places he was before. In fact, he’s not anywhere at all because it turns out that you can’t get the key, you were supposed to have picked up a knife in the kitchen that wasn’t obtainable before and stick your buddy in the dumbwaiter to send her down there, even though that wasn’t usable before. What fun!

I got down there and proceeded to walk into a forced vision scene where some ghosts popped up with interactive prompts, but every time I tried to interact with them one of the ghosts got mad and bit my neck out, killing me. There was no indication at all of what I was doing wrong, no possible options at all other than to press X on the ghosts, and not even any way to leave. I tried waiting until they played out this little scene they were doing and pressing X at each of 3 different phases where the X appeared, but just got eaten by the ghost every time. Turns out you’re supposed to run up, press X, then run away into some unknown safe zone until the lights stop dimming, then run back and do it again until all 3 X’s have been clicked.

I just gave up at this point, even though I was already more than halfway through, because it was all just so badly designed and unpleasant that the handful of hours I had spent on the game felt wasted and I just didn’t want to waste any more time plodding through this mess just to find out how this new version has no doubt butchered the ending (looked it up just in case though, and yep, they totally did).

If you’re into dated and glitchy graphics, really questionable animations, bugs and bad design, a bunch of Insidious-style cheap jump scares instead of a good plot, and very little interactivity, then this might be the game for you, but it sure isn’t for me. If you’re interested in this kind of thing just go play the originals.

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