Bandersnatch: A Netflix Experience

There is a lot I could say about Bandersnatch, but a lot I won’t say, because this is the kind of experience that shouldn’t be spoiled. It’s another interactive outing from Netflix, following in the footsteps of, as crazy as it sounds, Puss and Book, as well as Minecraft Storymode. This one, though, is not for the kids. This one’s for the adults, for the deep thinkers, for the tech geeks. This one is for fans of Black Mirror.

As very nearly anyone who has watched it will tell you, Black Mirror is already a fantastic series. Every episode delves into a technological possibility of some kind, and forces you to look upon its dark side. The episodes make you think, they make you speculate, they make you want to talk about them for hours with your friends, as I actually did on a podcast once. So how does Bandersnatch, being a Black Mirror episode, stack up? Well, I’m delighted to say that it stacks up perfectly with the others.

Everything you’d expect from a Black Mirror episode, you can find in Bandersnatch. There are eastereggs that point back at other Black Mirror episodes, there are thought-provoking plot developments, and different ones depending on your choices in this case. It’s a tremendous display that is worthy of the series, yet is also a completely new thing.

It is interesting to me as well how Bandersnatch manages to affect you the player. Without leaping headlong into spoiler territory, I’ll explain this by saying that typically, in choice-based games, I try to pick the things that I personally would choose, keeping my decisions as true to myself as I can. This experience managed to convince me to pick certain choices based on pure, undeniable morbid fascination. “Oh I just wonder what happens if I pick this one! Let’s find out!” I gleefully select my choice, reflecting only later on how weirdly delighted I was to do so.

As I have said, this thing is difficult to talk about, simply because I want to talk about it. I want to spill it all, all my thoughts on it, my opinions about it, and hear what others think as well. This, though, is not the place to do so. Right now, I’m just trying to convince you to press play on it if you haven’t already, and experience this for yourself. I promise it will make you think of games like this in a whole new way.

In terms of accessibility, Bandersnatch is pretty much completely accessible, especially on PC. Much like the Minecraft Story Mode experience, the buttons are all clearly labeled if you play it on PC, a fact I wasn’t aware of when I wrote that original blog. There was a small bit of trouble with one particular ending path, but it wasn’t an accessibility problem. I simply didn’t figure out the layout of certain buttons fast enough to act upon them. Perhaps with this little hint, though, you can succeed where I did not. If you’re blind, and using a screen reader, the numbers you need are below all those clickables. That is all I am going to say about it. You’ll know when you encounter the situation I am speaking of.

I think that covers, as much as I can, my thoughts and feelings about Bandersnatch. I’ve seen some folks talking about how a door has opened here, and while I personally feel it began with Minecraft Story Mode, I very much still agree. This form of interactive entertainment works. Some don’t like it when video games play this way because they want a video game. Lots of button presses, jumping, flying, aiming, shooting, fighting, what have you. But if you go into an experience knowing in advance that it’s a thing you watch, and then there happens to be interactivity, it may actually be even better received. I hope you give Bandersnatch a try, and I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog post. Thanks so much for reading, and as always, continue to be awesome!

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