The Black Mirror is one of those games that I would have trouble explaining my fondness of it to anyone. The graphics have aged, making it look like it belongs back in the era of early Playstation or Nintendo 64 (and considering it was released in 2003 it seems kind of silly). The pacing is very slow, relying on you exploring the environment and figuring out what to do next to advance the plot. And then there’s the voice acting. Which is just…
You know what? Take a look for yourself. Here’s a Youtube video (audio only) featuring a dialogue exchange from the game:
I think we can all agree on it being art of the highest caliber.
But in all seriousness, part of the reason why the voice acting in the game is so laughable is that the company (Future Games) was a Czech-based video game developer. As fans of anime or foreign language films know, translation dubs of movies or shows can often lead to some very wooden acting. The same thing happens in video games, especially for games that don’t have a large audience. I assume that the company responsible for porting it either didn’t care that much because of it or didn’t have a very large budget, so we end up with the above. I’ve heard that the German voice acting is supposed to be really well done, and I believe there is a setting to enable that in the game’s menu. So if you do check it out, maybe consider switching it to German and having English subtitles (it’s what some people do for their foreign language shows or movies).
I guess you could say games like this are one of my guilty pleasures. Because despite all of its flaws (bad voice acting, dated graphics, not to mention that one of the puzzles requires you to know the chronological order of the FREAKING ZODIAC), the game has a charm that I can’t deny. It’s atmospheric and full of Gothic imagery that evokes something akin to an Edgar Allan Poe story.
Everyone has some kind of entertainment or pastime that they enjoy despite it not being held in the highest of regard. For me, adventure games fit that bill perfectly. They are a holdover from the old age of gaming, a genre that most people would consider trite and convoluted. It’s hard to really explain why I like these games (even though I have tried on this blog…several times). But I think it comes down to the fact that I find them relaxing. Some days, when I finish doing work (whether it be on writing or my job at the TV station), all I want to do is unwind. I don’t always want to hop into a video game that demands fast reflexes or paying razor-sharp attention. Sometimes, I just want to experience a story.
And The Black Mirror is not the only one. Dark Fall 1 and 2, Scratches, The Lost Crown…I have quite a few of these horror-type adventure games under my belt. It’s just one of those things I latched on to after not playing any for a long time. I blame Myst. It being one of the first games I ever played, of course it would inform my choice of video games in the future.
I suppose my whole point in writing this is to show you that guilty pleasures are not a bad thing. I hesitate to even call them guilty pleasures because they shouldn’t make you feel guilty. Sure, other people might not understand it, but that shouldn’t matter. We get so caught up in critical reception for our entertainment that we often forget our own personal feelings in the process. We read reviews and message boards and newspaper articles, but we rarely feel comfortable going out and saying “this is how I feel” unless we’re backed up by others. I know I’ve been guilty of that many times before. But there’s a simple truth that I’ve learned in the last few years:
You shouldn’t feel embarrassed just because you have a fondness for something that isn’t popular. As long as you enjoy it, nothing else should matter.
Anyways, that’s all I have for you this time. Tune in next Wednesday for another post, and as always, have a wonderful week.
If you’re interested, you can check out the first post on guilty pleasures I made here.