Black Mirror review: next-gen intrigue for the Gordon family

It seems that the Gordon family has no respite within the walls of Sgathan Dubh, the fearsome mansion known as the Black Mirror that holds ancient and dangerous secrets

Already in the distant past 2003 a certain Samuel Gordon had had a good deal to do with curses of all sorts and now, in 2017, the tremendous legacy seems to have passed on to David Gordon.

THQ Nordic revives on the new generation systems a great classic, which has so fascinated the lovers of point and click "old school". But we are quite sure that the reboot Black Mirror did it hit the mark?

David Gordon

At first glance I don't like that place. Already outside the house that sense of restlessness and heaviness begins to disturb me, making me shiver more and more as I approach the large entrance door. Ancient legends and family stories tell that Sgathan Dubh is a dangerous and sinister place, a home that has hosted tragic events in its gloomy rooms. In the corridors of the castle, known to most as Black Mirror, strange presences flutter and people are shy and unwilling to make friends.

It's 1926. It's dark, very dark. The sky promises storm and here I am, embroiled in dramatic family affairs. Black Mirror is home to the Gordons, blood of my blood, but I'm not sure I know this place. Or maybe yes? I don't remember ever being there before, but the sensations I experience seem as familiar as they are disturbing. The welcome is not the best and the flickering shadow of the candle draws strange compositions on the walls of the castle, while the butler takes me to my room.

I'm David Gordon and here at Black Mirror I will find out the truth about my father's death. At any cost.

Black Mirror review: next-gen intrigue for the Gordon family

Black Mirror: The curse that plagues the Gordon family seems to have no end

I am sure that among our readers there are some gamers who love titles point & click and puzzle game. That's right yes, you know those "old school"? That they made us damn so much with those particularly difficult puzzles, which required a lot of reflection before being resolved and, once the solution was found, gave us immense satisfaction.

B it presents itself precisely as a point & click video game, topped off with a good dose of riddles and puzzles. Precisely for this reason it can be classified as a point & click puzzle game, as it ensures everything a game of this genre has to offer. The name Black Mirror, to you lovers of graphic adventures, will take you back in time to the distant 2003, in the company of a certain Samuel Gordon. Because yes, B, developed by King Art Games and published by THQ Nordic, and the reboot of the Future Games game of the same name released on PC in the early 2000s. Reboot in the truest sense of the word, since this Black Mirror next-gen is a new beginning: in fact, we are leaving for a new disturbing adventure in the company of another member of the Gordon family, that is David Gordon.

It seems to me that I have already experienced this scene ...

B di THQ Nordic presents it same narrative incipit from the 2003 Future Games game of the same name: a father who disappeared under strange circumstances, a son who wants to discover the truth, a curse, family intrigues and a creepy mansion. Set in 1926 in Scotland, the game begins with a heart-pounding scene upon which the entire narrative of the game is based. In fact, all the secrets of Black Mirror start from the initial scene, whose presence will be recurring throughout the adventure. Our every action will be aimed at discovering the truth, to find the reason for that terrible fact that gave life to everything.

Impersonating David Gordon we will make our entrance into the dark abode of Black Mirror, which in Gaelic means dark mirror and hence the name B. The castle has belonged to the Gordon family for generations and we will soon discover that it has been the backdrop to many unpleasant events in which David himself will be entangled.

Black Mirror review: next-gen intrigue for the Gordon family

The atmosphere that the game conveys is fabulous and is presented to the player in an excellent way. Although Black Mirror is a point & click game, it does manage to create one unique narrative power and immediately you will be captivated by the game world. In reality not so much for the scenarios, (which certainly contribute a lot, but unfortunately have some technical flaws that we will see later) but above all for the proposed plot and the way it is developed.

The plot of Black Mirror is engaging and relentlessly narrated, immediately immersing the player in the intrigues of the Gordon family

The narrative component of B is the strong point of the game. From the very first game sequences you will be literally entangled among the intrigues of the Gordon family, with a history that there presses constantly and keeps you on a razor's edge. Very often we tend (erroneously) to think that the graphic adventures, especially the recent ones, are quite "simpleton" games, but this is absolutely not the case and Black Mirror is proof of this. The story is interesting and disturbing at the same time, seasoned with just the right amount of mystery and horror elements.

Playing at B of THQ Nordic you will go on a journey within one gothic / horror scenery, masterfully created by a well-articulated plot in which reference is also made to ghosts, spirits and paranormal events of all sorts. However, they are not inserted at random, but have a very specific logic that makes them appear well blended with the context. Let's take ghosts, for example. In Black Mirror there are many, but they are not taken for granted or thrown at random in the plot as you might think. Their presence has a reason and, especially, is necessary to discover all the secrets and intrigues of the Gordon family. That is to say, without them Black Mirror would make no sense.

Black Mirror review: next-gen intrigue for the Gordon family

An excellent point & click with gothic hues, with a good dose of psychological horror. What a match!

Le gothic / horror tints that create the atmosphere of Black Mirror are precisely given by the strength of the narrative sector, but also the scenarios and settings play a fundamental role. As a great lover of castles and ancient residences, I really enjoyed the representation of Black Mirror, or B, With its gloomy and claustrophobic environments. The castle's architecture is in typical Gothic style, adorned with paintings that observe every movement, creaking wood and fine antiques. The light does not seem to know the home of Sgathan Dubh and one of the few light radiations that will accompany us during the adventure will be the dim candlelight.

I admit to being a fairly emotional gamer, but I assure you that several times during the game you will feel "observed", hunted by a dark force that hovers in the abode of the Gordons. I don't know if I can talk about jumpscare, but I confess that I got scared several times during some gaming sessions.

We can talk about B like a horror with some "Heart in throat scene", but more than anything else we can define it almost a psychological horror, which manages to disturb through the atmosphere and above all the narrative component.

Explore, the solution to all ills

In B we will have to to help David Gordon uncover the truth about his father's death, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances a few weeks earlier. To get to the bottom of the mystery we will therefore have to explore the home of Sgathan Dubh, trying to access all the rooms of the castle. By questioning the other residents (who are none other than our relatives) and the members of the servants we will have to find out as much information as possible about our father, about the castle of B curse of the Gordons.

We will find scattered around the various game locations clues of all kinds, divided between period objects, ancient documents, old handwritten letters and mysterious artifacts. Traveling between past and present in the company of paranormal events, confused visions and distant family members, we will have to put together all the information to solve the mystery of the death of David's father and dark secrets di Black Mirror.

Black Mirror review: next-gen intrigue for the Gordon family

Black Mirror and classic puzzles: it has always been known that the "old school" teaches masterfully

To achieve our goal, however, not only clues are enough, but we will also have to strive to overcome some challenges. As a good point & click self-respecting puzzle game, Black Mirror will put us in front of several puzzles to solve. Together with the narrative sector, puzzles are another strong point of the title of THQ Nordic, making it an unmissable classic for lovers of this type of games.

The puzzles deployed for Sgathan Dubh will be numerous and very diversified from each other, so you certainly won't have time to get bored. The mold of them will remind you of those from the first Black Mirror and other flagship titles of the genre, so you won't be disappointed. It's a kind of back to the origins which is very "old school", so you will have to reason to cope with the intelligence challenges. The difficulty is not very high, but the puzzles are not to be taken lightly: several times I had to think a lot to find the solution, also doing tests by writing the enigma on a sheet with the dear and old paper and pen. The latter two, trust me, are the traditional and timeless methods to solve any type of problem.

An excellent narrative is the background to a poor technical sector

Storytelling power and old-school puzzles make Black Mirror a great point & click title, which sadly makes one serious drop to the bottom in terms of gameplay and technical aspects. The graphics of the game are not bad and meet the standards of this type of games. It certainly does not scream a miracle, but overall it is pleasant, always thinking that it is a graphic adventure.

Black Mirror review: next-gen intrigue for the Gordon family

Woody controls and inaccurate camera are among the most frustrating issues in the game

Le issues (and frustration) find their beginning with i game controls joined the camera. Very often David's movements do not respond to our commands, resulting very woody and not fluid at all. Several times I happened to stay wedged between the objects of the scenario and in this situation the camera does not help. Besides the fact that some locations are really too dark so that you can't see anything, camera movement is confusing and imprecise: on several occasions David has literally disappeared from the screen, so much so that I thought he had jumped out of it and ran away who knows where. By fiddling with the controller a little bit you can regain control of the situation, but in the long run it becomes frustrating not being able to have full control of the character.

The problem of inaccurate commands also creates another hitch during quick time events. It only takes a moment to fail them and very often the fault lies precisely in woodiness of the character's movements and pointer. Fortunately, there aren't many QTEs in Black Mirror, but when you come across them it's another frustration that adds to the list.

Black Mirror review: next-gen intrigue for the Gordon family

Sorry, can't you turn on the light I don't see? I mean, I meant the candle!

As already mentioned, some of Sgathan Dubh's rooms are just too dark. It is true that the atmosphere of the game is gothic / horror, but in some moments the brightness is very low, so much so that we no longer understand where David is. Adding this problem to the frequent drops in frame rates, in some places the title becomes unplayable and certainly does not reach the sufficiency.

Another technical flaw lies in the infinite loading times, really too long so that they can be defined almost embarrassing. Passing from one room to another one is forced to wait for an immemorial time and very often, once inside the desired place, the character moves in jerks for the first few seconds, as if the game hasn't finished loading the new scenario yet.

A generally acceptable English dubbing clashes with a bad management of subtitles

Unfortunately the dubbing of Black Mirror it is not localized in Spanish, but it is fully subtitled. Veterans of the series will certainly remember that Future Games' first 2003 Black Mirror was fully voiced and subtitled in Spanish. The great Claudio Moneta he had lent his voice to the protagonist Samuel Gordon, managing to give a unique emphasis to the dialogues. Unfortunately, since the second chapter and later in the third, Black Mirror has no longer been dubbed in Spanish, but only subtitled. Unfortunately, history has repeated itself for this reason as well reboot di THQ Nordic.

Black Mirror review: next-gen intrigue for the Gordon family

Indeed the English dubbing is not bad, but not excellent either. In some places the emphasis of the voice actors seems cold and empty, almost forced, but still it is not entirely negative. The real and above all annoying problem lies in the subtitles. First of all it must be said that many transpositions of sentences in Spanish are wrong or otherwise inaccurate; English subtitles even appear in some places, as if the developers had forgotten to translate some sentences.

Completing the negative picture of frustrations are the timing with which the subtitles appear. Sometimes there is no correspondence between the spoken and the subtitled, resulting in confusion on the part of those who read and listen. Often the subtitles are interrupted for no reason and for some dialogues they do not even appear, so much so that entire sentences are lost. In these cases, you risk not understanding what you are talking about, as well as missing out on valuable information.

Black Mirror, let's sum it up

Unfortunately the arrival of B on next-gen was not the best. The reboot of the 2003 game of the same name, developed by King Art Games and published by THQ Nordic, is excellent from the point of view of the plot and the puzzles, with a fast-paced story and old-fashioned puzzles that will thrill old-school point & click lovers.

A completely different matter for the gameplay and technical aspects, which do not reach sufficiency. The problems are evident and in some situations even quite serious, such as inaccurate commands, the wobbly camera and excessively long uploads. Frame rate drops are frequent and the absence of Spanish dubbing is made worse by the fact that subtitle management is imprecise and approximate. Black Mirror on next-gen has potential and if you are a lover of the genre you will appreciate it, but not completely: the technical limits are many and unfortunately very evident.

6.7 Excellent storyline but technically poor. Sin!

Points in favor

  • Remarkable narrative power
  • Engaging storyline
  • Diverse "old school" puzzles
  • Puzzles offer a good challenge
  • Great gothic / horror atmosphere

Points against

  • Poor technical sector
  • Woody commands
  • Inaccurate camera movements
  • Frequent drops in frame rates
  • Too long uploads
  • Lack of Spanish dubbing
  • Bad subtitle management
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