With an interesting twist, Netflix has ushered in a new era of television and movies.
On Friday, the streaming giant released the latest saga of its dystopian series Black Mirror, confirming the rumors that it progresses in a choose-your-own-adventure style. Bandersnatch — which takes place in 1984 and tells the story of “a young programmer [who] begins to question reality as he adapts a sprawling fantasy novel into a video game and soon faces a mind-mangling challenge,” according to the synopsis — has five possible endings.
Here’s how it works.
At various points in the story, the viewer must choose what happens next. According to The New York Times, the options range from the seemingly insignificant — the first is: Sugar Puffs or Frosties for breakfast? — to the more impactful — will the main character, Stefan, played by Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk), take his medicine?
As Buzzfeed reports, you have only a few seconds to answer, and if you don’t, one will be chosen at random. Once you’ve made your selection (or once the device has for you), the movie continues without any black screen or pause to load, which reinforces the idea that you’re actually directing the story instead of simply playing a game.
That said, the choose-your-own adventure function isn’t available on all devices. It works on iOS but not on Apple TVs or Smart TVs. According to Variety, the viewing time ranges between 40 and 90 minutes.
The magazine also reports that there are more than one trillion different versions of the story, but most of them don’t actually affect the outcome of Stefan’s life.
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So what was the logic behind this new format? Simply put, getting viewers to care more.
“If bad things happen, you’ll feel even more crestfallen, because you were responsible,” Todd Yellin, Netflix’s vice president for product, told The Times. “If the character is victorious, you’ll feel even more uplifted because you made that choice.”
Reps from Netflix also hinted to the paper that it has a few more interactive shows in the works.
For most of the choices, you have to watch your decision play out in full and you can’t rewind. But for others, you will receive the option to do it over. You can also, of course, start over if you want.
According to Deadline, Black Mirror will also be getting a complete fifth season — which does not include Bandersnatch — to be released at a later, unannounced date. These episodes will not be interactive, The Times reports.
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is streaming on Netflix now.