Ingmar: German writer Anne von Vaszary worked on Black Mirror 2 as well as Black Mirror 3. Is she a part of the team again?
Martin: No, this time we worked with a writer from Scotland, so this is the first Black Mirror game that was originally written in English. Of course, KING Art have a long history when it comes to German adventure games, so we put a lot of effort into the German translation and voice-overs as well. The thing is, in the original English version, the accents of characters are very important, and we wanted to get this right. We don’t have accents in the German version, but the thing that both versions have in common is that the voice actors had quite some freedom and there was a certain space for improvisation. The result is that both releases have a distinctive flair of their own.
Ingmar: You mentioned controllers as an input device earlier. Is it also possible to play Black Mirror with a mouse?
There will be no pointing-and-clicking David Gordon around Black Mirror castle
Martin: There are no point-and-click controls which enable you to play the game just with a mouse, but we have a direct control system that allows you to play by using a combination of the mouse and the WASD keys on the keyboard. We do want players to be able to use a mouse, but of course point-and-click controls are connected to point-and-click gameplay, where you must search the environments to find interactive elements. I think that this kind of gameplay isn’t the most important element for a lot of adventure players anymore. Also, it doesn’t harmonize with a controller. We have decided to put a stronger focus on staging instead.
Ingmar: Can you give us an idea of the interactive dialogues?
Martin: When it comes to the multiple-choice replies, we have looked at modern adventures as an inspiration. There aren’t a lot of different reply options, and we tried putting them into the game in a way that’s as natural as possible. There are a lot of close-ups during dialogues, which means that we’re zooming in a lot more than we did before. The decisions you can make within dialogues are not going to send you on totally different story branches or something like that. Your behavior in conversations is rather important when it comes to your relation to other characters. Depending on how you act, they might treat you differently or you might receive a bit of background knowledge you might have missed by using a different approach. It’s not like our dialogues determine life and death, though.
Ingmar: What kind of inventory does the game have?
Martin: We’ve changed the inventory in comparison to the original games. You can twist and turn the objects. There are fewer objects in the game than in the point-and-click adventures, but they’re more interactive and sometimes you’ll have to find little details on them. We do have item combination puzzles, but when we have them, they’re usually on the spot. For example, there’s a table and you need to combine several objects on the table. The character won’t put huge items like an axe into his pockets because it breaks immersion.
Ingmar: How are you handling situations where David Gordon can die?
Martin: We made every death unique, so if you like, you can kill off David to see all those deaths; we know a lot of people like to do that. When David dies, you won’t lose too much progress, we just want to bring in some more tension and pressure.
Ingmar: Can you give us a rough idea of how long the game is going to be?
Martin: The game is about 10 hours long if you listen to most of the dialogues. If you don’t, you can obviously finish it a lot quicker. We have a price point of €29.99 on PC, Mac and Linux and €39.99 on consoles. It is a shorter game, so we didn’t want to go for a full-price title.
Ingmar: Is this game already paving the way for potential sequels?
Martin: The story of the game is pretty much enclosed, so it’s not very open-ended, but there are little seeds planted in there for more games, of course, so we do hope to make a full trilogy. Hopefully, Black Mirror will be as well-received as the original games. THQ Nordic did the Black Mirror Collection, so we know from that that there are still lots of fans of the franchise, and it’s a very popular game in the genre. We really hope we manage to capture that gothic-horror feel; the creepiness and the eeriness, you know?
Ingmar: What kind of work is left to do until the release?
Martin: Mainly, it’s about lighting. Light and darkness is such a big thing in these games because the atmosphere is very much influenced from black-and-white movies or other old movies. We will definitely go through the whole game again, and have a look at where it’s not dark enough or perhaps too dark. That’s mainly what’s left to be done.
The reason why we announced Black Mirror so late is that we know that there are gamers who dislike reboots a lot. We wanted to make sure that once we announced this reboot we’d immediately be able to show what the plan behind it is, and what we’re trying to keep and bring to the franchise. It’s not like we don’t like point-and-click adventure games, because we have done several great point-and-click adventure games. It’s more that we really think that in this kind of genre [the horror genre], there are a lot of things that you can do with a modern adventure game that you can’t do with a point-and-click adventure game, and we want to bring in more players who will hopefully enjoy the experience.
Ingmar: A few years ago, a TV show called Black Mirror – which is not connected to the games – went on the air, and became quite popular in the meantime. Has this caused any confusion or complications to this point?
Martin: Of course a lot of people ask about it or even comment, “They stole the name!!” But usually, as we communicate very clearly that we are not connected to the TV series, there are other people who quickly respond that if we stole the name, it seems we also built a time machine and stole it years before the TV series even went into production. (smiles)
Ingmar: What release timeframe are you currently aiming for on the respective platforms?
Martin: The game will be out November 28, 2017 on all platforms – PC, Mac, Linux, Xbox One and PS4.