“All that we see or seem, is but a dream within a dream.”
Are you a fan of Edgar Allan Poe and H.P Lovecraft? Then listen closely. THQ Nordic have resurrected the old classic Black Mirror for a new and improved version. Admittedly, I have not played the original, so this remake was my first experience with Black Mirror. Let me just clarify this right away for those who might visit the thought; this game is unrelated to the Netflix series!
The story takes place in Scotland, year 1926. Following the death of his father, our protagonist David Gordon visits the home of his ancestors for the first time. But upon taking our first steps onto the property, we quickly discover that the Black Mirror mansion is filled with dark secrets that play with the sanity of those who wish to learn the truth.
David believes that his father killed himself. However, that theory is quickly debunked when you discover that it’s never that simple. The family has a history of deaths at a young age, and as you get deeper into the Gordon family history, one unwillingly ventures into the more supernatural elements that dwell inside the walls of the gigantic mansion. The more we learn about the history of the Black Mirror house, the more we delve deeper into David’s sanity.
Storywise, you are immediately thrown into a mystery that feels like one Agatha Christie would enjoy. Having clear inspirational sources from the legendary gothic horror writers Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft, the universe include elements of the gothic, romanticism, and the uncanny. As Gordon explores the many rooms of the Black Mirror house, he often quotes the previously mentioned authors. As a big fan of this genre, this alone made the game seem worth playing. What helps fulfill the gothic horror fantasy, even more, is the fact that there are not only living human beings you can interact with and receive help from; you also have to interact and talk to spectral apparitions of the people who died there a long time ago.
On our arrival to the Black Mirror house, one doesn’t have to have watched several horror movies to understand that the tingling coming from your spine means that there is definitely something weird going on. The staff immediately put up a cold front, obviously not telling you everything about the history of the house. The residents of Black Mirror mansion are quick to establish that their relationship with Gordon (our protagonist) is one to be had at arm’s length. Why? Some of the first advice I get is to not leave my room in the late hours, because “ticking clocks are not the worst things I may encounter in the house at night.” You feel that it’s them against you. That you’re the invader. I feel like I entered a very hostile environment.
The artstyle and the graphics clearly show that the game originates from an older generation. The camera is locked in a traditional style, forcing our protagonist to move in a given way; which is fairly understandable, considering it’s a point-and-click adventure game. Gordon is a little bit hard to navigate, most likely because of the locked camera. I encountered some glitches here and there, that frankly, should not exist in a remastered game. While the cutscenes are beautiful, I can’t help but still feel annoyed at the bugs I encountered, requiring me to restart the game several times. I was also forced to Google some of the puzzles because I thought I couldn’t solve them on my own – but it turns out that the puzzles were bugged!
With that said, the puzzles are initially fairly complicated and well thought out. You have to search the environment closely and find clues to solve the mystery. The game is pretty fast-paced, depending on how quickly you can solve the puzzles (and if you manage to stay clear of the mentioned bugs). Considering the puzzle and narrative heavy game that Black Mirror is, what was unpredictable was the fact that, if you failed some of the puzzles, the results could prove fatal.
Originally a trilogy, Black Mirror is a point-and-click adventure carrying an atmosphere of madness and psychological distress. It is puzzle-heavy with detailed narrative elements. Even though it has good voice-acting and an interesting enough storyline, the game sadly falls short when it comes to the gameplay. And since this is a remake, gameplay is something that should have received more focus than it did.