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Have You Played... Black Mirror?

Och aye

No, not that Black Mirror, the stupidly successful TV show created by former UK games journalist Charlie Brooker. The gothic horror adventure game Black Mirror. Well, gothic horror is perhaps a bit strong for this slightly ropey point-and-click style puzzler. Sure, it's set in a spooky mansion in the middle of the Scottish highlands, but its dead-eyed cast of stiff geriatrics are more comical than they are scary. Especially when main bloke David keeps doing dramatic little asides to himself lamenting how no one, not even the nice doctor lady who seems really quite open to all this psychological terror stuff, could ever understand his mad visions of the past.

He's a descendant of Scotland's supposedly ancient Gordon clan, you see, the men of which have an unfortunate history of going a bit loopy. For David, this means occasionally getting assaulted by ghostly apparitions of long-dead family members (and sometimes recently deceased members of his own household), and the only way to get rid of them is to work out how they died by 'examining' (ie. clicking on) key moments in the scene playing out in front of him. He can't get too close to said ghosts, however, because for some inexplicable reason they'll reach out and either bite or bludgeon you to death if you get up in their spooky faces too much. Because ghosts.

I quite like the build-up to these weird visions. There's a particularly neat bit in a church where interacting with certain objects slowly turns the church's stonework into a watery ruin of a lake. It's a shame these moments come at the expense of the actual puzzles. When David first rocks up to the Black Mirror mansion, for example, it feels like you're doing some proper detective work, collecting important notes in order to crack lock combinations and figure out what your shifty grandmother is hiding in the old skeleton closet. Once the visions start cropping up, though, this is almost completely forgotten about. There are a couple of tactile puzzles later in the game, almost like those of The Room, but they're much simpler and don't require nearly as much logical deduction as earlier problems.

At six hours, the story does at least move along at a good clip, and its handsome environments are almost enough to cancel out the plasticky texture of its main cast. It's on Steam if you want to take a look at it, and I reckon as long as you enter into it in the right spirit (that is, expecting it to be a bit naff) then it's a decent enough yarn to while away a couple of evenings with.

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