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STREAMING VIDEO REVIEW: Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (Netflix)

In 1984, a young programmer begins to question reality as he works to adapt a fantasy novel into a video game.

 

 

Since its Channel 4 debut in 2011, Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror has become an international success under the wing of Netflix, with every episode providing innovative and controversial content for its loyal audience. Brooker’s latest baby, ‘Bandersnatch’, has been highly anticipated for a long time due to the unusual concept of giving the power of choice to the viewer. The idea that we, the viewer, can influence the outcome of a programme is not a new one; the saturated market of reality TV competitions and talent shows beg us to call and text for your favourite contestant by a public majority. But how can it be possible to have a feature length drama influenced by just you? How can Netflix take a feature only seen in video games and DVD bonus features? Like many, I was desperate to find out.

 

Before touching on the content, it has to be said the concept of interactivity has opened a window of opportunity to streaming services that could take the format and run with it in so many genres. For that, the creators should be commended for pushing boundaries and taking the linear out of television. At release it was widely reported that the decisions could affect the length of the production from between a 40 minute show to a full length, 90 minute film. But let’s get to the content.

 

 

Set in the early 80’s, Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead) is a talented young programmer who is hired by Tuckersoft boss Mohan Thakur (Asim Chaudhery) to adapt ‘Bandersnatch’, a choose-your-own-adventure book into a video game to dominate Christmas sales. Despite being under the same roof as famous game creator Colin Ritman (Will Poulter), Stefan rejects any help with programming his masterpiece (or rather, you reject any help) At this point I become suspicious, as after choosing to take help, the story took me to a disappointing rating by a gaming critic on TV, which led me back to the Tuckersoft office with the same choices to accept or reject help.

 

Stefan imprisons himself in his room behind a computer, the walls plastered in scribbly paper. As he takes the complex paths of Bandersnatch and brings it to life, we learn that his irate yet vacant presence is key to the storyline. As he struggles to overcome the difficulties of his glitchy software, he is riddled with guilt for his mother’s passing in a train crash many years prior. His reluctance to leave the house without his toy rabbit delayed his mother’s train journey, hence Stefan’s sense of responsibility for her demise. Stefan attends therapy sessions with Dr R Haynes (Alice Lowe) which you, of course, decide the frequency of the visits.

 

 

The decisions you make from start to finish become more gruesome and at times you wonder how can there be a choice. How am I meant to know if Stefan should jump from Colin’s balcony or whether Colin should do the honor? Is chopping up a body a better idea than burying one? However, each decision seemed less and less impactful as I progressed through the story. Dead-end after dead-end left me feeling deflated by the show and the option to go to the credits became more and more tempting after every wrong decision. If interactive television becomes a more frequent part of streaming services, giving people a choice when there is actually only one viable choice isn’t going to work every time.

 

 

I can be sympathetic to the widely publicised struggles that production faced. There is no denying that creating a nonlinear show must have been a massive uptaking, so it is understandable that delays happen; some of the greatest films are made later than planned, but audiences quickly forgive and forget if the delay is justified. I believe that it would have been worth the wait if Bandersnatch took a bit longer to make. Black Mirror fans may have high expectations, but as I said before, they’re loyal.

 

 

Despite all of the negatives, It’s worth watching for the experience of picking the path for Stefan (despite the choices being…a choice). It’s worth watching for Will Poulter, who in my eyes was the highlight of Bandersnatch, with his confident yet creepy performance. He’s completely underused in the role. Furthermore, the show/film is very polished in true Black Mirror style and the transition between choices in smooth, but the pathways need more than it offers.

 

 

Will I rewatch Bandersnatch? Not yet. I don’t think there’s any satisfaction in playing it over and over to find every outcome at once. Instead, I think coming back to this in the future will bring a greater anticipation for a new outcome that resembles the same feeling of watching it all for the first time. The future of television is definitely here, but it’s got a lot of work to do.

 

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is available to watch (play?!?) on Netflix now!

 

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch Get’s an chosen adventure score of 7 out of 10

~Gemma


January 18th, 2019 by Gemma
Posted in General, Movie Review, Technology | No Comments »

ATLAS: Ongoing Player Diary [Day 1]

Darsch Pugs here with the first of my Atlas journal entries. These will be done in character as I feel it is more fitting since I am playing on a role play server. I will however break character in the journal when needed to explain things or game mechanics.

 

 

Journal Entry 1

 

I am Mirac Pugs, first of my name. With no recollection of my past I woke up on a desert island in a free port, the former crew I sailed with were missing and my memory of all event prior to awakening with them. All I remember is a rowdy drunken night in a tavern and that is it. [this was the very first load into the server after character creation, you load into a free port naked]

 

I awoke to finding myself with nothing but the shorts I had on and a hangover. I meandered along the paths of the free port and the small outlying area just outside of the port looking for some supplies and that is when I met my friend Ming Tao. Ming was in a similar situation to mine. We made a pact to find our lost memories together, or to make new ones and move on. Together we worked to build a raft and left that island behind in high hopes. My hopes however were soon shattered as I fell sick from what I assume to be a vitamin deficiency and fell overboard. [my vitamin levels dropped to low and I started to die, then my internet connection went out so my limp body fell off the raft and I died]

 

 

The current dragged me to a new island with a larger free port and here I stayed for a couple of days resting until I was reunited with Ming. [the role play server did a relaunch after a wipe and so myself and the player of Ming decided to keep our characters rp and this is where I logged into a new free port upon creating my character]

 

Ming had made contact with a group calling itself the Take and Trade Company, and he happened to be in port looking for new recruits, so naturally I signed up. We travelled to the company’s temporary base of operations to find it over run with large wolves baying at the doors and trying to break in. By the gods I have never seen such large wolves in my life, they were damn near the size of horses and just as quick! My introduction would have to wait as I grabbed a bow and helped to defend against the beasts, we killed 6 in total with four falling to my bow that day.

 

 

After the wolves were dealt with I was introduced to Adustus, the company’s admiral, the company’s chef Angel bonny, and another Captain, Ezekiel. All a right friendly and lively lot. Each with their own specialized skill set and desires. I regret I have as of yet to fully get to know anyone outside Ming though. My duties as a seaman kept me busy harvesting resources and fighting off the many beasts I encountered.

 

The island we were on was full of elephants, wolves, rattlesnakes, giant snakes, giant spiders and scorpions. There were plenty of boar and horses as well as beautiful parrots and sneaky monkeys. It was during one of my many incursions into the forests off the beach the shipyard was set up at was that I encountered both a giant spider and a giant snake. I was quick with my bow and defended myself against the spider, it had trapped me in some webbing and managed to bite me, the giant snake struck me from behind, I could feel both sets of venom coursing through my body sickening me, m,y vision becoming blurry, I barely managed to escape, but I made it back to our base, and then it happened, I was stung by a scorpion on my way into the base, and fainted once I made to where I intended to lie down to rest. I may have a strong bit of fortitude, but even the most hardy of men eventually succumb to enough venom and I was asleep for three days.

 

 

I woke to find myself on a raft, our base destroyed, all my gear gone, and a note saying to come to Gorgon’s Haven island, apparently while I still was recovering we relocated to a new island. I immediately went to work harvesting more supplies upon my arrival on Gorgon’s Haven. [I was killed by a wolf through the wall before the relocation started and logged in after the relocation was finished]

 

After some time, maybe two to three days, Admiral Adustus and myself went on a voyage to hire some more crew, the admiral and other had collected some gold and our new ship was finished, it was a small but fast vessel, and I was overjoyed to man the sails on it. With the admiral at the wheel and me in the cows nest and handling the sails we would soon make it to the free port to hire some crew. We would first though have to brave the dangers of the open sea, we sailed through several hurricanes, dodged and weaved through water spouts, skirted the dangers of ghost ships and made it to port in one piece. We hired a stalwart crew [of the npc kind to man the sails and ship repairs] and made the return trip home. We would never make it home however. Disaster struck, one of the ships of the damned caught wind of us, and their vessel was just to quick for our dear Gorgon’s Whore to outrun. Their cannons made quick work of our ship with their demonic roars and that eerie green smoke trailing behind those hellish balls they fired, and we lost all the new crew we hired as well as all of our gold in just a few cannon salvos from the undead bastards. [Both Adustus and I died to the sharks in the water when we had to abandon ship]

 

 

So it is with all these event’s that I decided I should set pen to paper and chronicle my adventures, lest I forget anew what has transpired in my life, and for future generations to know my tale.

 


 

We hope you enjoyed Day 1 of Darsch’s player diary of ATLAS, if you want to chat about the game, please join us in Discord and remember Darsch will be joining Katoe sttreaming atlas on Tuesday night’s, 9pm GMT on the station twitch!

 

Here’s Katoe’s stream from last week [it didn’t go well 😀 ~Lonesamurai]

 


January 7th, 2019 by Darsch
Posted in Gaming, General, Massive Multiplayer Online, PC | No Comments »

Just Cause 4 Speed Paint:- Exclusive Game Of The Month Artwork

To celebrate the release of Just Cause 4, Sanitarium.FM’s patrons received exclusive artwork of the games main hero, Rico Rodriguez by our artist in residence, PhaseChan.

 

Check out the process behind the portrait below:

 

 

Love this illustration? Sanitarium.FM patrons get exclusive Game Of The Month artwork every month, support the station today to start receiving your prints

 

 

 


January 3rd, 2019 by PhaseChan
Posted in Game of the Month art, Gaming, General, Multiplatform, PC, Playstation, Xbox | No Comments »

ATLAS: Early Access Start and Ongoing Play Diary

ATLAS: The ultimate survival MMO of unprecedented scale with 40,000+ simultaneous players in the same world. Join an endless adventure of piracy & sailing, exploration & combat, roleplaying & progression, settlement & civilization-building, in one of the largest game worlds ever! Explore, Build, Conquer!

 

[New reviewer Darsch will be taking on ATLAS, the new MMO from Grapeshot Games, in an ongoing diary of gameplay, join us in Discord if you’re playing and chat about your experiences! ~Lonesamurai]

 

 

ATLAS. The pirate survival MMO I never knew I needed, surrounded by controversy over its rough early access launch rendering it unplayable for many players. Then there are game files which are copied from ARK Survival Evolved and its expansions. Many people believed upon this revelation that the game was just an ARK asset flip. Players bemoaned the “launch” saying the game was not ready. More on this in a moment first I want to tackle the ark asset flip accusations.

 

 

What is Atlas? For starters it sure as hell is not ARK. The only thing the same about the two are shared game file names, the survival theme, and game engine. Ark had stat points and engrams which are just blueprints you learned to be able to craft items, Atlas has skill trees that modify everything about your character, unlocks special abilities, teaches you how to make things, and unlocks additional skills lines, while forcing you to specialize. For example my character unlocked the bow skill line as well as the taming skill line from the basic survival skill line. From there I went down the bow skill tree learning how to make fire arrows and zipline arrows and how to do the special attack penetrating shot which penetrates armor and hits all mobs in a straight line. These special abilities are called feats and are something ark does not possess. Atlas is not an asset flip, all the art assets are new, new game mechanics such as managing your vitamin levels, having to catch the wind with your sails at the correct angles to even be able to move your ships and raft are all new, the files sharing the same name as ARK’s I can completely dismiss as Atlas feels so much different.

 

 

“Well the game was launched incomplete, broken, buggy, and laggy!” some would say. They are just plain wrong and ignorant of what early access means. So time to get this off my chest, early access is a fucking paid alpha people, its an incomplete game sold at a discount to get money to continue development and test the game! The game has not even officially launched yet, that won’t be for another two years as the devs have said in multiple interviews.

 

 

Yes the game’s early access start was terrible with server pings of 250 ms, terrible frame rate , and some game breaking bugs. The devs worked non stop on the game, some putting in 24 hours a day even to get this game playable. The servers have 120 ms ping still on official servers but I have not experienced any more lag or frame drops. Considering everything wrong and that they did numerous patches the first week that we went from version 1.0 to 7.0 and higher now is astonishing and the devs even apologized for the the rough early access start. I have never in all my years been this impressed and humbled by a game dev team, color me impressed. The was playable on the 27th of December 2018. On top of all the hard work they were doing on their own game servers they helped groups like TwitchRP set up and fix their own private servers

 

 

The devs have gone above and beyond the call of their duties, worked endlessly on the game, and care about their players and game. They continue to fix things and balance things while trying to give us the best play experience possible for a game still in the development stages and in testing. Also this game is fucking great.

 

 

ATLAS is available now in Early Access on STEAM – https://www.playatlas.com/

 

 

Keep an eye here for more news and play diary’s as we dive more into the game

 

~Darsch


January 1st, 2019 by Darsch
Posted in Gaming, General, Massive Multiplayer Online, PC | No Comments »

Fallout 76 Speed Paint:- Exclusive Game Of The Month Artwork

To celebrate the release of Fallout 76, Sanitarium.Fm’s patrons received exclusive artwork of the games Scorchbeast boss by our artist in residence, PhaseChan.

 

Check out the process behind the portrait below:

 

 

Love this illustration? Sanitarium.FM patrons get exclusive Game Of The Month artwork every month, support the station today to start receiving your prints.

 


December 6th, 2018 by PhaseChan
Posted in Game of the Month art, Gaming, General, Massive Multiplayer Online, Multiplatform, PC, Playstation, Xbox | No Comments »

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