The Black Mirror (not to be confused with the Netflix series of the same name) originally released in 2003 to much acclaim and is still one of the most loved point and click adventure series to this day. Now, in 2017 and under the watchful eye of German studio King-Art Games and THQ Nordic; the point and click, gothic adventure series returns to Black Mirror house, in a new Scottish themed, post World War One setting.
You play as David Gordan, the heir to the Gordan clan home of Sgathan Dubh/ Black Mirror house. After a short car journey which teaches you the very simple mechanics for the game, you arrive at the Gordan family home for the very first time after your family had you raised in India alongside your mother. You have travelled from the other side of the world to lay claim to your inheritance and to discover the truths of your father’s suicide. After receiving a letter from him, David believes there could be more than meets the eye to his father’s death after learning of his studies and beliefs of the occult as well as warnings from his mother that blood is not always thicker than water.
Once arriving at the house, you are met with a cold reception from your Grandmother – Lady Margaret Gordan, who pushes aside any talk of your father before briskly asking the family butler, Mr Mckinnen to see you to your room. After getting to your quarters, you are advised to not leave until the morning as “the ticking clocks are not the worst thing you can encounter.”
The story continues as David’s own beliefs and sanity are put to the test as visions or echoes of the past happenings at Sgathan Dubh help you along through a tale of murder, mystery, trust and the occult as you try to come to terms with the Gordan’s curse which has seen many generations of Scotland’s most dysfunctional family succumb to an early grave. In true detective fashion, you are joined by your beautiful and intelligent sidekick, (and candle holder) Doctor Leah Farber, who does her best to gain David’s trust to help him find answers to what has been happening past and present.
Black Mirrors presentation puts you in a third person perspective mainly based in and around the grounds of the family home; Solving puzzles, collecting clues and confronting others about their knowledge of what happened to your father and the weird goings on in the house. King Art studios have done an impressive job on the Unity engine by showcasing a lifelike interior to the house and putting across the characters in a very well presented way.The voice acting here is to a high standard, although there are a few moments which lines don’t run too smoothly, but not enough to really take away from the enjoyment of the game. Mixed with the fitting soundtrack and sometimes eerie background ambience overall you have a great looking and sounding title.
There are a few issues to the title, some screen tearing and jagged edges/pixelation which I did find quite prominent at times when exploring the family house playing on my original Xbox One console, but the biggest killer for me was the quite often and long loading screens. Each room in the house is its own scene and quite often you will need to walk through multiple rooms and passageways to get to where you need to be. This would not be a big problem in most games, but it takes a few seconds to walk through a room followed by a twenty to thirty-second long load screen to enter the next room, followed by yet another loading screen to the next and so on.
These bland and often loading screens break the immersion and flow of the experience quite badly, especially in some of the cut-scenes of the game where you are presented with about five seconds of dramatic story followed by yet another loading screen before the next action scene begins and ends in the same manner.
Completing the story takes roughly ten hours. Once completed, I found there was little reason to go back and play through any of the games five chapters as through my playthrough I had managed to obtain all collectables (pieces of old photographs) which unlock concept art and three jigsaw-like puzzles to complete.