Do you remember the old “Choose Your Own Adventure” books that were so popular in the ’80s and the ’90s? They’re known for their branching plots and different conclusions depending on the choices you make while reading the book.
You can easily lose hours retracing your steps, choosing different options along the way, hoping to get all the good (and the not-so-good) outcomes in the end.
Now, you can get the same experience on the screen with Netflix’s latest interactive offering, “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.” It’s a one-of-a-kind streaming event that could change the way we watch movies.
Choose your own ‘Bandersnatch’
In a nutshell, “Bandersnatch” tells the story of up-and-coming video game programmer Stefan Butler who’s hoping to get his big break with his, appropriately enough, “choose-your-own-adventure-type” game adaptation of a fantasy novel called “Bandersnatch.”
Dubbed as Netflix’s first interactive film, it then offers viewers a chance to shape how the story unfolds and decide the fate of the protagonist with a number of binary options sprinkled throughout the episode.
Should Stefan eat “Sugar Puffs” or “Frosties” for breakfast? A “Thompson Twins” or “Now 2” cassette for entertainment? It’s all up to you – our hero’s fortunes depend on it.
It certainly feels like a completely novel and conceptual way to watch a streaming video and it will keep your interest and attention all throughout.
As part of the dystopian sci-fi anthology “Black Mirror,” “Bandersnatch” is certainly not suitable for kids. Despite its “Choose Your Own Adventure” pedigree, it can be as dark and gruesome as they come (depending on your choices, of course.)
It all feels like a video game because it essentially is a video game, with your remote control as the joystick. Make sure you always have it on hand so you can key in your choices in time.
According to Netflix, Bandersnatch has more than a trillion storyline combinations but you can end up with five different endings. Finding them all will take some time but fortunately, Netflix gives you a chance to return to a critical branch point and try out a different path.
Spoilers aside, if you see an option to choose “Netflix,” try it! It’s certainly one of the weirdest and most “meta” experiences in television history.
Will ‘Bandersnatch’ change the way we watch TV?
Netflix tells Wired that “Bandersnatch” has a total of 312 minutes of scenes, which adds up to more than five hours couch time. Again, Netflix is changing the way we consume television programming, and it has us wondering whether this interactivity fosters “communal TV watching” or further kills it. In other words, will we want to share the remote or experience our own journeys? Netflix says interactive programming is the “logical next step” in TV.
Where can I watch ‘Bandersnatch’?
This interactive movie is not available on all devices, though. Due to technical reasons, “Bandersnatch” can’t be played on Apple TV, Chromecast, Amazon Fire and older streaming gadgets.
However, it’s available on some web browsers, newer smart TVs, Android and iOS gadgets with an updated Netflix app, game consoles (PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360) and newer Roku streaming gadgets.
How can you tell if your gadget supports it? Look for the red icon with a white star on the episode’s page.
Ready for a streaming video experience like no other? Check out “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” now.