What is Black Mirror?
Black Mirror is a murder mystery point and click adventure set in the grounds of a crumbling Scottish mansion. Following his father's suspicious death, the heir to the estate, David Gordon, comes to clean up the paperwork, but soon finds everything isn't quite as it seems. With staff running the gamut from terrified to actively hostile, and everyone having a secret to hide, David decides to take matters into his own hands, and investigate the trail of clues left by his late, and supposedly 'insane' father. Soon, he discovers a web of intrigue involving curses, the occult and all kinds of strange goings on, as he digs deeper into the strange visions and madness that have plagued his family for generations.
How do you play Black Mirror?
A fairly traditional point and click adventure, you'll take direct control of David as you explore the elaborate house and its grounds, searching for clues, chatting with the staff, and solving puzzles in an effort to uncover the mystery surrounding your father's death. By interacting with your surroundings, deciphering the trail of clues left by your father and making good use of the things that you find, Womble-style, Black Mirror's story will slowly unfold, as one thing soon leads to another. Notes and letters hide hints and secret codes to open locked cabinets, while the items you pick up along the way always come in handy later on down the line - perhaps some alcohol to make a makeshift flamethrower to fry some spiders, or a long wire to pick a lock - and it's up to you to pair the right items with the right problems in order to progress.
Some puzzles are a bit more involved than the creative use of everyday items, though - like one that asks you find your way into the secret compartments hidden in a desk. The first compartment requires a bit of light code-breaking, making use of the series of symbols and formulae on two notes your father left you; with a bit of basic algebra, or even just trial and error, you can figure out what the four digit code is by matching up the symbols on the desk with your pieces of paper. The second compartment is a bit more involved, as you'll need to carefully examine the desk itself for the buttons hidden in its intricately-carved exterior, while the third involves pressing a pair of buttons in the correct order to match the coloured stripes on the snake carved along the edge of the desk.
How easy is Black Mirror to pick up and play?
Like most point and click games, Black Mirror can be a bit tricky for newcomers, as games like these often require a very specific type of logic to figure out the puzzles. On the whole, the puzzles here aren't too obscure, but they do require a fair bit of thinking, some basic maths and tricky problem solving that can take some persistence. With little in the way of hints, you're largely on your own when it comes to solving the puzzles, and figuring out what to do next. A QuestLog does give you a vague hint of your current objective, but it's not very specific - one prompt tells you you need to figure out what the maid knows, but what you actually need to do is to head down into the cellar and help her deal with a spider problem first. Needless to say, an appetite for experimentation is required.
Black Mirror's controls can be a bit tricky at times, too - particularly when examining important items in your inventory. Letting you flip and rotate the items in question, each has a number of highlighted 'points of interest' you can interact with to get some more information, but it does take a little bit of trial and error to position the item in such a way it will let you interact with a particular point. Likewise, while exploring, it can equally be a bit tricky to get David into the right position to interact with the scenery.
Most of Black Mirror is fully subtitled, and fully voiced, although the puzzles themselves do often require you to read notes left by your father, or pick out other written clues, which aren't voiced. As such, it's the kind of game you could do with being a confident reader for.
- "Find a way to open the desk in the library."
- "Or are these the first step towards the same madness that father succumbed to..."
- "Press white button"
As a dark murder mystery, Black Mirror does weigh in fairly heavily on the mature content front, although not so much because of bad language or overt sexual content, of which there's neither. Instead, frequent scenes of bloody violence and some occult-ish rituals make it a bit of a disturbing tale, with characters choked to death, impaled in the stomach and stabbed in the neck to name but a few. Large blood stains are shown in some areas, and on some bodies, while in one scene a bound man is stabbed in the heart on an altar, with his blood spurting and pooling underneath, while another shows a corpse slumped over a bowl of animal blood. The castle's cellar also features a strung up deer, hanging over a container of its blood.
Format Reviewed: Playstation 4