Black Mirror Review
Here's one mirror you won't want to stare into too long.
Review by Tracy Bosworth
Published 24th August 2004
- Developer: Future Games
- Publisher: GMX Media
- Release Date: 30th April 2004
It's funny how my once most loved genre of game, point and clicks have rapidly descended into my most hated! Slow and uninspiring gameplay, tedious expectations (click on everything until you find something useful) but 9 times out of 10, a good story line which keeps players going with the thought of unravelling whatever it is they are investigating.
Black Mirror calls itself a horror adventure and let’s be honest there is no shortage of these around! Nevertheless the game sounded promising and after watching a long cut scene explaining previous events I found myself in the age old position of placing the mouse over everything just in case it happened to be important.
The story line behind Black Mirror is at least a good one and follows a certain Samuel Gordon who, after 12 years away has returned home to his old English Estate, Black Mirror castle following the rather suspicious death of his grandfather William. Despite the rather familiar feel of the place it becomes obvious that all is not as it seems at the estate and Samuel takes it upon himself to investigate what really happened.
The game begins with Samuel inside Black Mirror Castle and from here you must guide him through the estate, gathering information and clues from conversations and actions such as diary reading. The first problem I encountered was actually talking to people, from a distance they seem human, entice them to speak and it soon becomes apparent that the residents of Black Mirror Castle are indeed robots with annoyingly posh English accents and extremely slow and boring dialect. I don’t know if the problem lies with the voice acting or what the characters actually have to say but considering some of these conversations drag on for quite a while, usually with pointless comments thrown in for good measure it’s safe to say that conversation is the first obstacle you will have to battle if you intend to play this game through to the end.
The second problem lies with the games puzzles and overall gameplay style of the game. When standing in a room placing the mouse over a door will bring up a comment telling you where that door leads which is a nice touch, trouble is the game involves so much backtracking that you would probably get an accurate picture of the layout of the place within an hour of playing anyway!
Puzzles in the game are highly infuriating requiring you to do things in a specific order such as collecting equipment needed to complete the puzzle which is where all the backtracking lies, things which may seem obvious to you will remain unusable until you have certain other things, despite the fact that you need to use them all for the same puzzle anyway! Apart from this the game seems to assume that all players have psychic powers and will instinctively know what the games developers were thinking, truth is many of the puzzles don’t make sense and are far too difficult and tedious to actually enjoy.
Despite the rather linear gameplay, Black Mirror takes place in an excellently detailed and atmospheric environment. The estate itself definitely has an ‘old’ feeling to it helping to create the perfect setting for what should have been a good horror adventure. Character models are rather plastic looking however, with no emotion or real human features and when talking to these characters you are constantly reminded that you are talking to a computer generated image rather than an actual human character. Also spoiling the games characters is the voice acting which is just poor. Slow paced and over the top period drama style English accents mixed with boring and uninteresting dialogue is a recipe for disaster at the best of times!
Overall there isn’t much here for the casual or hardcore gamer, the heart of a point and click adventure is its puzzles and Black Mirror does this badly forcing players to go backwards and forwards in seemingly pointless treks and it all adds up to a feeling that you are simply playing a role in a very boring movie, you don’t control your character, just guide him through the motions.
On the plus side the game features a good story line and the setting is excellent, if you have a lot of patience and are a hardcore fan of this genre, then Black Mirror might just be worth a go.
Review Score: 5.2/10
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