If you’ve been online in the past few days, chances are you’ve heard about the latest obsession from viewers of the Black Mirror Netflix series. We give you everything you need to know about the interactive special which the internet can’t stop talking about.
While fans of Black Mirror await its fifth season, the creators of the show released an interactive film titled Bandersnatch which has captured the attention of the internet and created debate whether it is a film or a game.
Set mostly in 1984, the film follows a young video game programmer named Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead), who is programming his own interactive video game called Bandersnatch which in turn is based off a novel by the same name by author Jerome F. Davies. As the story progresses, Butler begins to question his reality in the disturbed Black Mirror-style the show is renown for.
Arguably the most unique aspect of the special is that during different points of the episode, viewers encounter a “choose your own adventure” option where they are forced to make choices which affect the outcome of the story. Each time a decision is offered, viewers are given 10-seconds to choose which option to go with.
These choices include seemingly inconsequential things like choosing which cereal Butler eats, what kind of music he listens to, or more vital ones which determine how he reacts to certain situations. In each instance, a choice is automatically selected should the viewer fail to make a decision within the allotted 10-seconds.
Netflix announced that there are more than 1 trillion choice variations viewers can make for the film. The story has an approximate running time of 90-minutes which can vary for viewers based on their choices throughout the film. However, if a viewer takes the quickest route without opting for do-overs, they can get through the film in just 40-minutes.
Although some choices affect the story to a larger degree than others, everytime a choice is made, the story is nevertheless affected in some capacity. For example, when the viewer chooses which cassette tape Butler listens to, the music in the episode immediately parallels that in the scene. Each and every choice leads to other choices later on in the story, as well as to an ending. Netflix has stated there are “five main endings with multiple variants of each”.
Since the special was released on December 28th, viewers have debated whether Bandersnatch is a game or a video. Many argue that due to the interactive nature of the special it is more of a video than a film, while others decry their lack of emotional investment into the characters and events, unlike other Black Mirror episodes due to requiring to be focused on decision making throughout the video.
If users, however, prefer to watch it like a film, they can allow the 10-second timer to rundown each time and allow an option to automatically be selected for them. Netflix has not revealed how the choice is made when users do not select a choice, therefore it remains a mystery whether it is random or guided to an ending.
The fifth season of Black Mirror has been announced but due to Bandersnatch the release date has been pushed back to later in 2019.
For those unafraid of spoilers, Forbes created a walkthrough for how to navigate to all five possible endings.
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