Black Mirror 3: review

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Have you ever entered a conversation halfway through or right at the end? As this is the third instalment of Black Mirror we have to admit to this feeling exactly like our opening question, simply because this is where we’ve entered the storyline. We know it sounds a bit odd, but we have honestly never played the first two games, so we’re going out on a bit of a limb here. Black Mirror 3 opens with a guy running through some woods clutching what looks like a flaming torch. He stops outside a burning mansion in front of two policemen, one of which is Detective Spooner – an inquisitive fellow (he’s in the right job then) who’s about as enlightened as we are concerning the immediate situation. The man holding the torch (that’s you) is then promptly arrested and slung in the village cells, for obvious reasons.

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That's right baby! The party never stops here!

Thankfully the main character you play is good at talking to himself and fills in some of the blanks as you go along, although recounting past game characters’ names and various situations only served to make us feel we’d missed out on a week’s worth of Eastenders rather than help us out with any particular clues or puzzles. Still, we’re not trivial worriers by any stretch of the imagination, and so pressed on. As point and click adventures go BM3 makes some good first impressions; the backdrops are beautifully drawn and full of little details that really do a good job of building the atmosphere; tree-tops sway with the wind across the skyline, water ripples and laps at the old stone riverbanks, and mist soaked forest pathways linger on into the obscured distance. Each screen has a visual depth to it that makes the whole place seem just that little bit more sinister, although anyone that lives in the British countryside will probably find all this as threatening as a sheep wearing clown shoes.

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If you go down to the woods today...

As Darren/Adrian (yes you have two names and no, we’re still not sure why) you’re tasked with finding the real arsonist/murderer to clear your name and get on with being a physics student, and we all know how stressful being a student is without having to worry about being called a murderer in the test-labs. To do this you will need to enter ’5-year-old-mind-mode’ and question everyone and everything you come across, and although we’re in England there seems to be a strange smattering of accents in the village. The voice acting isn’t exactly bad, but it does seem a little weird. Spooner’s Irish accent seems oddly forced, as do a lot of the “British” accents. Darren/Adrian’s Boston accent feels very out-of-place also, but thankfully the hotel’s receptionist comes to the rescue with a squeaky, camp, Little Britain voice that even when he’s talking about limb-dismemberment manages to make you smile – with a tongue in your cheek of course. On the whole we’d say the voices aren’t all that far off The Blue Toad Murder Files cast, although BM3 is obviously trying to be a lot more intense! Ambient sound on the other hand has been done very well, and all the little things rustling around the forest areas, creaking noises throughout decrepit buildings and the wisps of wind that pass through old iron gate bars all add an extra layer of depth to the animated backdrops.

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You like my front yard? I added dead people to brighten up the place!

The progress you make is generally through the usual point and click logic, sticking food menus into letterboxes, putting doughnuts in freezers and jamming rusty keys up pigeon’s bums (we made that last one up, or did we!?). Aside from that there are also the usual bunch of mini-games too, which aren’t quite as forgiving. They’re not mind-melters by any stretch of the imagination but they’ll add some extra time to the game, and they feel like they justify their place rather than being just a time filler. As you progress through the game there will also be cut-scenes that pop up depending on how you deal with various situations, for instance; right at the beginning your cell-mate next door steals your diary and when we decided to ask for it back we were treated with a lovely cut-scene of the protagonist stabbing said cell mate in the eye with a pencil, then grimly smiling about it into the camera. Obviously whatever has happened in the previous games still has some bearing that’s central to the plot line, only we’ve no clue why Darren/Adrian is having these violent visions. In our honest opinion (which is what you’ll always get here) BM3′s story didn’t really pull us in or have us on the edge of our seats but then we are very aware that there’s a lot of back-story we’ve missed out on. Because of this, it was difficult to take a lot of the plot ideas seriously and we found ourselves becoming rather bored around halfway through. We shouldn’t need to tell you this, but it’s obvious that to really get the best from this game, knowledge of the previous two games is really rather essential. So if you’re a fan of the Black Mirror series and know what all the killing while grinning is about, you probably won’t need us to tell you to go out and buy this third instalment. On the other hand, if you’re new to the series we strongly advise picking up the first two before touching this! As we said before, you can’t expect to understand the situation if you enter the conversation at the tail-end and because BM3′s story is tied up with the first two games so vehemently, everything you do here will be actions based on previous story knowledge. So, played the first two games? add two more points, if not take the final score as it is.


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Written by R.Furie

Ross has been playing games since he can remember and has had games machines around him all his life. He's what we now refer to as "Old Skool" because he grew up playing games with a hand carved wooden joystick on a TV forged from rope and stone. Nourished on a diet of Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Joust, Gauntlet, Bomber Jack and other various wholesome arcades he has grown to become a versatile and open minded gamer. Favouring the style of open-world games he's sure VR can't be far away, and looks forward to attaching himself to a colostomy bag and slipping into a deep VR coma so he need never have to deal with real life again.

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