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Black Mirror II Review
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When I was asked to review Black Mirror II, and told what type of game it was, my immediate thoughts were ‘I wonder how easy it will be to find a walkthrough for this one…’. Yet I could not have been more wrong; whilst definitely a challenge, Black Mirror II is finally an adventure point-and-click that can be done purely with patience, thought, and logic (though I am not ashamed to admit to enlisting the aid of my far more observant girlfriend in this).

So, where to start? Black Mirror II is a pleasant game, a hybrid of both of the main types of point-and-click game; a fun adventure game, with puzzles thrown in to unlock certain necessary things to progress. Before you fret, I will aim not to give any spoilers regarding the game, story, or any puzzles/challenges therein.

Some of your surroundings

Immediately, when starting Black Mirror II, you are presented with an eerie, mysterious, and rather pretty cinematic, regarding a dark forest, a creepy-looking mansion, and a man who looks like he tried one mushroom too many. This paves the way for a story which, at first, is only hinted at as you - Darren, a lowly photograph shop assistant - are sent on various errands, introducing you to the game, the world, and the interface. Slowly and unsteadily, in definite spits and spurts, a story begins to unravel. The way the story is brought in, with various events and discoveries acting like small pieces in a very, very large and confusing jig-saw puzzle, is quite artfully done, with, as my father would say, more twists and turns than a twisty-turny thing.

To add to the eerie and creepy, if somewhat confusing story, is a brilliantly done soundtrack. The ambient music, in soft yet unnerving tones, really underlines the feel of the game perfectly, in a way that I have not seen done quite so well since the Silent Hill games. Right from the off the music launches you into the world - initially based in a small town in America, then relocating later to a town named Willow Creek in England - giving the immediate feeling that the world is not quite as it seems, and leaving you unsettled from the word Go.

It is a shame, therefore, that the voice-acting is quite so poor, being reminiscent of a year 4 school play. With lines delivered extremely woodenly, and large gaps between each person’s speech, this does detract quite heavily from the game, leaving you feeling like you’ve fallen into an interactive episode of Home and Away.

Oh, it’s another morgue

Another problem following this is the volume mixes. When inside, this is not much of an issue; the music is nice and sedate, there is not much in the way of environmental noises, and the speech is adequately clear. However, immediately noticeable, is the inability to hear anyone speak over the music and sound effects the moment you step outside. With subtitles defaulted to ‘Off’, this resulted in me missing a large amount of talking before being able to remedy this problem. Even after fiddling with the volume mixes, I found it very hard to find a compromise between voice volume, ambient volume, and effects volume, which worked well indoors and outdoors. Added to this the fact that when enabling subtitles, these are then displayed in garish shades of blue, red, and various other colours, which clash or blend problematically with the backgrounds, this is something that does make the game slightly harder to play.

The backgrounds themselves, however, and general graphics, are nice and artistic. Not quite hitting the realms of beautiful, the artwork is still a nice treat on the eyes, giving a good feel that fits well with the general style of the game. Whilst the characters are highly comparable to that of The Sims, especially in the slightly wooden edge to their movements, this is not enough to take away from the overall look of the game.

Moving on to the gameplay itself, Black Mirror II is generally nice and easy to control, with the left mouse button doing pretty much everything. A nice feature also added is the ability to press spacebar to highlight all interactive objects in a room, eliminating the annoying process of hovering over every single possible object to make sure you haven’t missed anything. Another nice feature is the option to turn on the ability to skip puzzles if you spend too long stuck on them. This avoids the possibility of getting stuck indefinitely due to one small puzzle you just can’t quite complete.

Slightly annoying is the apparent need to examine every object for a full explanation and description before being able to interact with it. This gets frustrating when it is obvious what you need to do, and all you just want to do it to progress on to the next stage of the game. This can be sped up slightly, however, by the ability to click to skip the current line of dialog.

He looks rather dead

Also frustrating is your character’s apparent lack of haste in doing anything. Everything is done at such a snail’s pace – talking, examining, moving – that within a very short time, you’ll find yourself shouting at the screen to hurry up. Then when you discover certain characters that you need to talk to, who will only begin conversation when they have sufficiently relocated to a specific spot in the room, the danger of pulling out hair grows exponentially. Couple this with the inability to cancel most actions once they have begun, and even the most patient people will start having trouble.

Black Mirror II also suffers from a common problem found in nearly all point-and-click adventure games; sometimes, though to be fair, not that often in this game, the answer seems too random. You’ll need to find something, and the hints will not help at all, and the only way of resolving the problem is to literally talk to and examine everything you can find, everywhere. This does get extremely annoying when it happens, and takes a large amount of patience to overcome – though, as stated previously, I have not yet had to refer to a walkthrough to resolve these.

Something that did make me laugh was the main character’s apparent severe kleptomania. Wandering around, examining everything, I found myself taking the most random objects, from most random places. A kettle, a bowl, a stethoscope, a set of scales, some bread from a diner…no object or place is sacred against the prying hands of Darren.

This game appears to have an impressive length, though what percentage of this is due to being stuck on certain problems is hard to judge, however even 5 hours into the game I felt I was not very far at all, let alone 10 hours. This does give the game a good lifespan, overcoming the fact that there is very little re-play value whatsoever, however the duration of this is enhanced by the fact that this game has to be played in short bursts. While a fun game, I did find it frustrating and slightly boring if played for more than a couple of hours at a time.

So in conclusion, Black Mirror II is a nice little game, with good graphics, easy controls, and a few nice features to make it slightly easier to play than most of its predecessors in the genre. The story is good and mysterious, and the game has an impressive length. Whilst there certainly are some bad points, this game comes out overall on top, as a credit to the Point-and-Click genre.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (5 votes cast)
Black Mirror II Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 5 ratings
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