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Black Mirror II
Black Mirror II
Developer:Cranberry Production
Publisher:Odyssia
Platform:PC
Genre:Adventure
Release Date:2010
Article Posted:August 2010
Grade:3.5/5
System Requirements


The first Black Mirror game came out seven years ago, in 2003. It quickly became known for its easy puzzles and, even more so, a rather confusing ending. Black Mirror 2 has a lengthy opening that explains the events of the first game (including that dreadful ending) and introduces us to the new protagonist: young Darren, a science student. He is on his summer vacation in Biddesford, a small town in Maine, USA, working for Mr Fuller, a grumpy and unpleasant owner of a photo shop.

The game starts off slowly - you have to do a few simple everyday things for your employer, such as changing a fuse in the basement and getting a package from the local post office. You slowly get to explore the town (some areas are closed off until you finish the task given), meet the residents and learn more about its past. This feels very natural because Darren is almost as much of a stranger to Biddesford as you are.

A beautiful girl named Angelina shows up at the shop to have her photos taken. Even though she is new in town, it seems someoneís been following her. There isnít much time to find out who her stalker is, especially when Angelina becomes a murder suspect. There are many characters you will encounter on your journey, some new, some old. The old ones are mostly our friends from the Black Mirror castle. Each character has their own story to tell, although I wish a certain few were more developed.

There is much to discover about the main character. Some of the early events revolve around him personally, encouraging you to press on and discover more about him. He may come off as rude and childish at first, talking about his favorite grunge bands and snapping at people when he probably shouldnít, but he grows into a stronger person as time goes by.

The game has a lovely concept of transitioning from light to darkness. The main character changes as events force him to, the weather changes as the story gets darker and closer to the feel of the original game. You travel from sunny sea shores of Biddesford to rainy and gloomy Willow Creek, where a lot of events take place at night.

Atmosphere is one of the things that kept me playing this game. I was eager to find new locations and explore them. When youíre playing a game that requires exploration of every pixel on the screen, even the smallest details jump out at you. Whether itís the books on a shelf or a tiny bird on a nearby tree, it is clear that the developers paid special attention to the backdrops. You will be additionally rewarded if youíre familiar with the first game - it is fun to explore some old areas and see how they changed over the years.

Like the first game, Black Mirror 2 contains elements of horror. There is implied sexual abuse and you get to see several dead bodies, much like in the original. There are also moments where camera dramatically zooms in (usually on a character), but those look rather funny.

Another thing that is carried over from the first game is the difficulty of the puzzles - or the lack of thereof. Most of them are inventory-based. Difficulty level can be changed in the options menu. If you select the 'Easy' level, a 'Skip' button will appear over puzzles that are considered harder and the game will do that part for you. These puzzles are not that hard, in my opinion, and most experienced adventure gamers will just breeze through. It is a useful option if you donít have much time to spend on the game.

Controls are very basic.. You can click a hotspot until Darren has nothing more to say about it, after which the cursor disappears. Inventory is located on the bottom of the screen and all you have to do is put your mouse there to bring it up. If you press the Tab button, all hotspots will be revealed on the screen, which allows you to fine-tune the difficulty of the game. Itís good for seeing what options you have in a room and also for making sure you donít overlook an important object.

There are action sequences scattered throughout the game. There aren't many of them, but they make the game more dynamic. You will usually have to do something in a limited amount of time (a timer is not displayed, though). Donít worry, they are not hard to do and if you do fail, the game will reload the last autosave, usually made right before the sequence starts.

If you havenít played for a while, there is a journal that will help refresh your memory. Designed to look like a real journal, if often contains Darrenís sketches and valuable pieces of information, as well as a short recap of previous events. Another nice feature is a map that lets you quickly travel from one area to the other - no tedious walks around the town unless you want to!

As a photography enthusiast, you always have your camera on you. If you take photos of certain objects or during some events in the game, you can unlock game artwork, mini-games and special modes (such as Bobblehead Mode... which looks rather creepy).

After seven years of waiting, this is what I have to say: it was worth it. While the game doesnít bring anything revolutionary to the genre, it expands on the story of the first game, deepens it and sets a good footing for the recently announced third game. It is perfect for those who donít have time to spend hours upon hours solving a puzzle or those who want to enjoy a bit of an eye candy and a solid story.

   



PC System Requirements:
Windowsģ XP / Windows Vista
Intel Pentium IV at 1.5 GHz / Athlon XP 1500+
Video Card : 128 MB VRAM nVidia GeForce 6600 or better
1 GB RAM
5 GB of free Hard Drive space
DirectX compatible sound card
DirectX version 9.0c or better