Black Mirror - PS4 Review


There are a lot of moments where Black Mirror is pushing just on the verge of being a really solid adventure game, but those moments are too few and far between, hampered by technical issues and sloppy controls. The story is a good one, and those who are willing to wrestle with these shortcomings in favor of an interesting narrative will likely enjoy their time with Black Mirror, but in the end it is a barely better than average title.

The title is a somewhat generic one, but there is probably a reason that fans of suspenseful stories recognize it as the older PC Black Mirror games have been around for years and earned a pretty solid cult following. This new title shares some common characteristics but is its own game for better and for worse.

The setting is a an interest one as we assume the role of David Gordon, who visits his ancestral home in Scotland during the 1920's. As if often the case in stories like this, there is a reason for this kind of first time pilgrimage, and in Black Mirror it us due to the suicide of David's father. The story plays with Lovecraftian themes such as madness from this solid premise. One issue however, is that this is a relatively short game, so I dare not delve any further into the narrative for risk of spoiling what is the strongest aspect of Black Mirror.


The visuals are really solid, and I enjoyed the voice acting which is important in a game like this. Black Mirror is an adventure title through and through, as you solve puzzles built into the mansion, looking for clues and continually checking your quest log to see what your next objective is. One could argue that the game's directives are a bit too ambiguous, as it does make you reconsider your environments and sometimes retrace your steps in case you missed something, but I actually did not mind the pacing here most of the time. It's a somewhat rigid, old school adventure game in that sense, but credit to the developers for creating such an interesting physical environment and sense of suspenseful ambiance that I actually did not mind giving my surroundings multiple examinations.

Where Black Mirror falls a bit short is on a handful of technical fronts. The prior Black Mirror games were more click and point adventure, this is more akin to older Resident Evil games with a slow walking, awkwardly turning, clunky to handle protagonist. It might not feature the 'tank controls' of old, but they are hardly reflective of a more modern era in gaming.


Additionally, there were some other hiccups that I encountered along the way as well. There were times when trying to interact with the environment that my protagonist just seemed to get 'hung up'. I also exited some cutscenes and seemed to be stuck on the environment. These frozen states force a reload from a prior save, and while I never lost a lot of time it was always rather frustrating. Also, the engine is not really all that well optimized. Almost any time the game has to load in a new environment (such as entering a new room - something you do a ton of), the framerate plummets noticeably as everything gets loaded in. For a game that does an admirable job in setting the tone with its audio and visual, this performance hit is jarring and takes you out of the moment in an unfortunate fashion.

Black Mirror is a solid adventure game with an interesting story and a voice cast that generally does a really nice job of bringing characters to life. While it is an update on the prior Black Mirror games in a lot of ways, this release still feels a little but too mired in the past with some notable performance issues coupled with clumsy controls. The end result is a game that is worth playing through, so long as you can struggle through the technical concerns that prove far more daunting than any of the game's puzzles.


Game Information

Platform:
PlayStation 4
Developer(s):
THQ Nordic
Publisher(s):
THQ Nordic
Genre(s):
Adventure
Mode(s):
Single Player
Other Platform(s):
PC
Xbox One

Source:
Provided by Publisher




Article by Nick
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