Three players, one game: The Ocelot reviews Bandersnatch


Sugarpuffs or Frosties? Kill dad, or don’t? Bandersnatch will make you think differently about your day…

Just when you think Charlie Brooker and co can’t get anymore more innovative, – or meta – they do.

The latest installment of Black Mirror (on Netflix) has come via a film/game mind-bender – an interative film, if you will. On the outside it’s a fun activity, but the further you go down the rabbit hole your brain is soon introduced to all kinds of reflexive conundrums! Most of us have played The Sims, and most of us have seen The Truman Show – but Bandersnatch is next level.

The Bandersnatch story has at least five different endings, and – as The Ocelot team found out – there are a number of different permutations within each of them! It literally makes the mind boggle.

And now we deliberate…

Jamie, Ocelot editor

Firetop Mountain has nothing on Bandersnatch

As a gamer, a choose your own adventure freak and a fan of Black Mirror – Bandersnatch was like manna from heaven for me. 

The closest thing that I’ve been exposed to that comes close to this sensory experience in recent years would be Telltale Games series of The Walking Dead and Batman stories on the PS4.

But, for me, it was an original concept that was completely new. Television has always been a passive experience but this suddenly became something completely new as each viewer had real power to affect the story. I know this will lead to plenty more copycats but I say bring them on. It’s about time TV allowed you to play God. I’ve been saying it for years.

Ben, Ocelot deputy editor

Watching B-Snatch – as everyone is starting to call it – is quite a confusing experience.

It’s certainly groundbreaking. I was expecting a video version of the ‘choose your own adventure’ stories – but B-Snat (as people are now shortening B-Snatch) is more nuanced than that; take a ‘wrong’ turn and you go back to the start of a thread you were previously on… or do you? Because in this almost identical story thread, the characters say things like… ‘I’m sure I recognise you from somewhere?’.

The effect is uber meta in that the characters attempt to break the fourth wall – reaching out beyond the veil of their own dimension into yours – beginning to suspect that their actions are being controlled by a hidden hand. It’s brilliantly unsettling – slick – ingenious… but it gave me a headache. You see, when I watch something I prefer actors to entertain me without the need for my input. I’ve had a hard day doing my job… I don’t see why I have to put in extra hours helping them do theirs. B-Sn didn’t leave me feel entertained.

Afterwards I wanted to crash out on the sofa and watch a film. I still can’t work out if it’s genius or just B-S.

Claire, reporter

I have never been a passive film watcher. I’m always switched on, constantly looking at semiotics – not one for ‘Netflix and chill’.

So, you can imagine my delight when I first saw the Bandersnatch trailer. The film itself? Mesmerisingly meta.

Bandersnatch, for me, is a cross pollination of The Truman Show and The Sims but with a much more intellectual exploration into conspiracy, simulations and free will. It seemed to be a strange balance between escapism and a reality check – so well aligned with the social commentary style of the other Black Mirror episodes.

The concept of Bandersnatch is nothing new, but it is pushing the boundaries within mainstream TV and film. I loved it.