Black Mirror 111
Viva Media Release.
Here were are again in the Willow Creek dark universe of the cursed Gordon clan where we learn the secrets hidden darkly hinted at as we puzzled through earlier games. This entry is dark as is to be expected. We follow Darren in his quest to prove his innocence and end the curse. The graphics are outstanding, especially the effects of water running off the rooftops in the depressed town. Everything is gray, foreboding and quite often depressing. The Black Mirror castle gives the appearance of having lost a war. From its rubble strewn entry room to its demolished kitchen the graphics truly depict a sharply depressed venue. Mechanics
The mechanics of the game are quite similar to the second. It is a 2d world with very good backgrounds enhanced with subtle movements, some more obvious than others. Water seems to flow endlessly highlighted by ominous perpetual dark clouds broken only by sharp unexpected sounds adding to the atmosphere. The inventory is discovered by sweeping your mouse along the bottom and the options are accessed by icons on the top of the screen. Make frequent use of Darren's diary and the map when you find it during game play. The map allows instant access to locales you have already visited. This is very useful as Darren will not run, so it cuts down watching a lot of blocky walking. Darren maintains his Maine accent and all characters are voice acted well including the grating whining of Murray. Access to hot spots are obtained by tapping your space bar. There appears to be unlimited saves which are highlighted in the load screen and numbered in reverse order to how they are shown in your save folder. The save folder is found in my documents, at least they are in XP. There were a few flaws which may not have been glitches but instead design flaws. More on this later later. There is also a walk through included on the US release of the disc. The manual is also found there as no printed one is provided. The game is fully point and click and you can die, save often. There is an auto solve built in to help resolve puzzles. You do not need to play Black Mirror 1 and 11 to enjoy this game there is enough back story to make this a stand alone game. To fully understand the story of this 3rd person game playing the first two is advised but not vital. Game Play
You play Darren aka Adrian Gordon of the cursed clan through six chapters, the first five exclusively. During the sixth you spend some of the time playing an unexpected ally. I won't say who because part of the challenge is trying to figure out who the bad guys are. The puzzles are primarily what you would expect from adventure games. They include a mixture of applying knowledge of things learned through conversation and hidden clues gained by that activity. Pay attention to what is said. There are the usual inventory items. The primary Adventure game rule applies. Look at and pick up everything you can before leaving the scene. Though there is one point in the game when following the rule causes a problem. this will be discussed later in spoilers. The conversation tree is displayed in icon format appearing where your inventory is normally displayed. Most of the time when a topic is completed the icon will disappear. Some questions must be asked twice. But once in awhile the icon remained and when pressed again you got the same reply. There is also a maze called the labyrinth which is a bit different, quite ingenius and rather fun to figure out. Some of the puzzles are called mini games, however, they are puzzles and not what we have come to hate that are true mini games. The game is based entirely within the Willow Creek environment including all the depressing places in the previous game with at least one other location added. There are also new places to visit in the town. Many of your old favorites are brought back along with some new denizens. All in all it is a challenging game that is fun, depressing, with a few startled moments and some frustration. Quite likely is it the best of the three. We do get a resolution to games one and two with a satisfying conclusion, even if the results for some minor characters are not spelled out. Spoilers
Flaws or glitches?
All in All
The photo copier puzzle does not follow the instructions in the provided walk through. It is clear what you should do but not so clear about the mechanics of how to do it. Without noticing I accidentally hit the escape button while trying to manipulate the wires. The escape button appears in the form of a large pull down switch. It shows up after a few failed attempts. The puzzle where you are required to descend through the well is completely unclear. Do it wrong and you die. According to the walk through you push certain buttons that are identified on the pillars found in the room. You can assume those buttons must be pushed in the same order, left to right, that you find them in the room. The buttons in the puzzle have pictures to identify them. The problem is half the buttons have no pictures, (worn off) and as Darren looks at the pillars there is no close up so you cannot see what the pictures look like. So it is guess work. You must die often until the magic button appears or guess right. Save when Darren enters the cage. Another one is in the room before the labyrinth. Remember the rule grab everything, look at everything. The game allows you to do just that. The problem is the items you pick up will allow you to work the scale puzzle and get one key. When you complete the labyrinth and use your key to open the other door you find you need six keys. You picked up the items you needed in the labyrinth to get those keys. The trouble is you cannot redo the scale puzzle to get the keys if you have previously done the puzzle. The game forces you to ignore the rule of interacting with everything that we all know so well. Skip the scale puzzle do the labyrinth then go back to that puzzle. Yes it is a challenge but they kind of broke the rules to make it so. In yet another puzzle the included walk through tells you to underline three phrases. Problem the phrases indicated are the wrong ones. Again the magic button saves the day. Mag is working on a walk through and you can bet that one will be correct.
It is a terrific game, perhaps the best of the three. It is of a reasonably long length and lives up to the franchise. So far the best game of 2011.