The Black Mirror by Al Giovetti
By Al Giovetti
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The Black Mirror
Summary * History * Company Line * Game Play * Plot * Graphics * Animation * Voice Actors * Music Score * Sound Effects * Utilities * Multi-player Features * Cheats, Hints, and Walkthrough * Journalists * References * Letters
All the suspense of a thriller movie on your PC.
Storyline: Samuel Gordon left his boyhood home many years ago, vowing never to return. The accidental death of his grandfather, William, forces him to make the painful journey back. After reading William's journal, Samuel learns that the death is no accident, but linked to a string of gruesome and mysterious deaths dating back 100 years. Upon investigating, Samuel discovers that he is much closer to the mystery than he thinks; in fact, he is at the very center of it.
The game has you explore the Black Mirror castle, a graveyard, the tower where the protagonist's grandfather was just before he was murdered.
Like all good adventure games, the main character needs to solve puzzles in order to progress the plot and move into new chapters and new areas. Exploration provides the clues to unravel the puzzles.
One puzzle involves the organization of the symbols of the zodiac in ascending order around the outside of a four by four square (sixteen spaces). You need to know the symbols of the zodiac and the order that the symbols appear in by month that they pertain to. The inner four squares have blank shaped tiles, that must fit the pattern in the center.
The puzzles are not difficult. General knowledge of how to play chess allows you to open a small box. You need to use the chess movements of a knight to get two black knights in the upper corners of the three by three (nine squares total) square chess board puzzle top and the two white knights in the lower two corner squares. Anyone with a basic knowledge of chess moves can complete the puzzles easily.
Other puzzles require a knowledge of permutations and combinations from statistics. For example one puzzle requires you to arrange three levers in one of three different positions. The number of possible combinations equals three to the third power or 27 different combinations, specifically: 111, 112, 121, 122, 131, 113, 133, 123, 132, 211, 212, 221, 222, 231, 213, 233, 223, 232, 311, 312, 321, 322, 331, 313, 333, 323, and 332, where 123 means first lever first position, second lever second position, and third lever third position. You simply have to try all the combinations until you find the one that is correct.
An other type of puzzle is the knowledge of how to assemble jigsaw puzzles. The puzzle is to re-assemble the pieces of a ripped up picture or note. Those with a rudimentary pattern recognition intelligence can do this type of puzzle easily expecially with the frame provided.
In the Black Mirror Manor area an autmap assists you in moving to several locations. The map could have been enhanced with an auto travel within those main locations. Many of the main locations have multiple areas within them and walking back and forth tends to be boring.
The Manor itself has 27 areas, including a main hall entrance, main hall outside library door, main hall outside dining room door, main hall upstairs, main hall near the balcony, old tower area, attick, tower room, upper hall outside Robert's room, upper hall outside old room, front basement, back basement, old room, victoria's room, common room, front library, center library, back library, old garden, entrance to house, stairs outside to front gate, front gate, greenhouse outside, greenhouse inside, stable area outside, inside stable, and area where William died. Putting in a map for the manor house and grounds would have made it easy to select from the 27 locations and travel directly there without delay and boredom. As it is, the only easy autotravel that the game containded was to use the map to travel to the main entrance area of each main location.
The use of autotravel from a map is simply good taste in an adventure game. I am reminded of Rocket Science games who felt that their graphics were so beautiful that the game players would not mind walking around in them. While the Black Mirror graphics are beautiful with many tantilizing nude female statues, the 437th time you walk through the same scene is excutiatingly boring. Have mercy on us game players and put in autotravel to all locations.
You play Samuel Gordon (the protagonist). The story plays out in six chapters and varies little from the storyline given by the company.
The game is strictly linear. If you vary from the linear plot you die. This is a tired but effective way to organize the game. As a result, if you do not save often, the game has you replaying sections of the game over and over again as you repeatedly fail to fathom the exact order of certain tasks. This error in game design should not be found in an adventure game today. The method of "enhancing gameplay" is really just a device to increase the play time with nonsense. The designers need to add more plot and eliminate this type of transparent device since it only annoys the game player..
The 2D graphics are highly detailed and typical of the graphics one would expect for each setting.
The animations include trees swaying in the wind, birds flying in the distance, and water that ripples and glistens. Character animation is fluid and life-like.
A cast of twenty professional voice actors do a very good job on all the voices in the game.
Zdenek Haub's music score has you on the edge of your seat.
Zednek Haub has ambient noises like the patter of rain on a tin roof and that hitting the puddles and flagstones of the outdoors.
Whenever playing a game you should save often. Just like the character in Tron 2.0, reviewed last month, who said, "I am saving every 30 seconds, you should too."
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