Bandersnatch: A Real Game Changer

Sarah Ray

Have you ever wondered if you are truly in control of your own actions?  The decisions you make everyday? What you choose to eat in the morning?


“Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” begins like any other episode of the popular British science fiction series on Netflix – with a dystopian setting, rapid turns, and multiple shifting realities – but this time, viewers find themselves at a crossroads as they realize that now, they get to decide how the story ends.


This 1980s-based story focuses on Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead), a young video game developer who approaches the popular publishing company, Tuckersoft, with a demo for his new game, Bandersnatch.  This is where Stefan meets Colin Ritman (Will Poulter), another developer who he greatly admires the work of. Throughout the film we follow the story of Stefan, a troubled young man still haunted by the death of his mother, as he slowly begins to believe that someone or something is controlling his every action.


The film allows the viewer to make choices for Stefan, which are displayed on the screen as two choices that you get ten seconds to pick from.  If you do not chose in the alloted time, Netflix makes a decision for you, and you can only watch as the story unfolds. As you progress further into the film, you are inevitably told that you have made the wrong choice, and are sent back to the last choice you made, to explore the other options.


Many fans of Black Mirror went into “Bandersnatch,”  having high expectations before even beginning to watch it.  Many were also disappointed by what the highly anticipated ‘movie’ actually came to be, and I can understand why.  While I was a massive fan of being presented with important choices that swayed the plot significantly, some of the choices, such as what breakfast cereal Stefan ate, did seem quite gimmicky.


Though I can see how the amount of choices could become overwhelming, once you go through the plotline, Netflix gives you the option to go back and change your decision.  This is a unique feature that made me want to continue going back, and keep exploring different choices. Netflix lists the film as being one hour and thirty minutes long, but one can easily spend countless hours playing and replaying this interactive quandary.


The story does seem to drag on at points, and there are choices that seem to have little to no effect on the plot whatsoever, and are entirely arbitrary.  However, the overall story and concept of an interactive film makes for an exceptional viewing experience, and was impressive on Netflix’s part, considering that this film was the first attempt at anything of its kind by them.