If you’ve read my blog before, you know I’m a huge fan of choice-based games. When I heard Netflix’s Black Mirror came out with an interactive episode, I was intrigued. However, as I completed all five endings, I began to feel like this piece of content wasn’t made for me.
Like all Black Mirror episodes, Bandersnatch was excellently produced, shot, written and edited. This is especially true if you watch Black Mirror for the Easter eggs, as this episode is chalked full of them. So as a lover of good TV and video games, I was excited to see what this interactive episode could provide. There were some clever devices and jokes which relied on the meta nature of the episode, but overall, it didn’t really hit me the way I wanted it to.
First, the endings were not all that compelling to me. In nearly every choice-based game, there’s a “good ending” which typically motivates the player to explore more than one ending. Bandersnatch didn’t really have any kind of feel-good ending, making the replays a chore more than entertaining.
Secondly, there was no major reveal as to how the universe of this episode worked. Is life truly repeating or is Stefan just insane? Does Colin have the answers or is he just another dumb kid on drugs? Depending on your ending, there’s no consistent answer to these questions. The more endings you discover, the more dissatisfied you become with your original ending.
Instead of using choices to enhance the narrative, it really seemed like choice was meant to replace narrative. Although this could possibly be a good introduction to interactive storytelling for someone who has never played a choice-based narrative game, it just didn’t cut it for me. Is it worth a watch/playthrough? Sure, especially since it’s free with your existing Netflix subscription. But if you’re looking for something more robust that deals with the concepts from Bandersnatch I suggest playing the following games:
- Bioshock Infinite
- Life is Strange
- Doki Doki Literature Club (Horror)
- The Stanley Parable
What did you think of Bandersnatch? Did you get more than five endings? Let me know with a comment below!