The Black Mirror interactive episode/movie “Bandersnatch” has been out for a little while now, and even though everyone has their thoughts on it, I’m going to toss mine out there as well. There will be some spoilers, so if you haven’t seen this yet, you might want to come back later.
For me, most episodes of Black MIrror are pretty hit or miss. They’re amazing like “National Anthem,” “Nosedive,” or “San Junipero,” or fairly forgettable….like episodes I can’t remember the name of. And there are a bunch in the middle, that aren’t amazing or groundbreaking, but I still enjoyed, like “Playtest”. “Bandersnatch” falls into that last category. It’s not amazing, it’s not terrible, but I did enjoy it. And as a whole, you should give it a shot, if only for the novelty of the choose-your-own-adventure style.
Like a lot of people, I was taken back to my childhood and reading the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series of books. Much like them, “Bandersnatch” starts off with some pretty simple decisions. Which cereal should Stefan (the main character) eat? Which tape should he listen to on the bus? It’s a simple way to get you making decisions that don’t have a major effect on the plotline.
I did like that parts of this story were looped in on themselves. Did you make the wrong choice and decide to work at the game studio? When you go back and try again, the characters have some latent memory of their interaction. Definitely a small twist I would expect from Black Mirror. Directly tied to this thought, I love that as you reach the end of a storyline, you are given the option to go back instead of going to the credits, much like the old books. I remember having all of my fingers held in various places throughout the book so I could go back to that critical decision and see what happened.
I really liked that as you made decisions, it truly did change the story. Stefan could become more aware of what was going on, leading to the silly ending (fighting his therapist in her office, or finding out that he is actually starring in a movie), or the dark ending where he kills his father and makes the perfect game (and of course the self-aware followup of making decisions for the woman who is now creating the “Bandersnatch” episode for Netflix").
After a while, the episode does get repetitious. There is one ending I never did make it back to see (young Stefan finding the rabbit, but choosing not to go with his mother). That’s what Google is for I suppose!
Overall, I’ll give this one a B-. It’s got some issues, but still worth your time.