My Mind Is A Safe
HIGH Fantastic writing and production…
LOW …hampered by distracting lip-sync issues.
WTF How was I in the minority when it came to making that choice??
Twin Mirror, the latest adventure from Life is Strange developer Dontnod, opens with main character Sam driving through a fictional West Virginia town. A former journalist with a lot of guilt hanging over his head, he’s returning to his hometown to attend the wake of a dead friend he hadn’t spoken to in years.
Seeing an opening like this, filled with interesting camera cuts and incidental music playing out of the car radio is a rare thing. It’s a somber start and watching Sam ignore texts from someone asking if he’ll be at the funeral adds to the intrigue. The cinematography is varied and manages to speak volumes, even when characters aren’t saying anything.
When play begins, players control Sam as he investigates a conspiracy surrounding his friend’s death. Like most adventure titles, this involves talking to other characters, gathering clues and solving the occasional puzzle. It’s pretty standard stuff, but the big twist is the Mind Palace.
In this mental construct of Sam’s, players see certain events and memories in an imagined second world. Fragments of past memories manifest into tangible events that players can interact with. The Mind Palace also acts as a way to piece together evidence. One such instance has Sam figuring out how a bar brawl went down after he became too drunk to remember what had happened, and visualizing how one character landed a punch while trying to deduce what caused a piece of furniture to get knocked over is quite interesting.
Aside from the Mind Palace, Sam also speaks to an internal voice referred to as “Him”. This other figure can only be seen by the player’s character and will sometimes chime in on major choices, with this input drastically affecting the way the story plays out. He will sometimes encourage Sam to confide in certain characters while suggesting he lie to protect others. Either choice can take the narrative to different places, but I felt like every decision had a definite impact. The ending I got was bittersweet, but felt like a logical and satisfying conclusion to my actions.
During Twin Mirror I talked to almost every NPC and learned about each of their roles. Sam’s ex-girlfriend brought up lots of bad memories, talking to the editor-in-chief of the local paper taught me about classic novels and the local cop made me uneasy. All of this was valuable as the writing, performances and presentation are some of the strongest I’ve seen recently.
Unfortunately, despite this quality content, Twin Mirror struggles with immersion thanks to distractingly bad lip-syncing — most of these characters don’t look like they’re saying the great lines they’re reading in strong voices.
Regardless of the bizarre lip movements, Twin Mirror is an excellent adventure game. Not only was I enthralled by its mystery, I was absolutely enamored with the presentation. I wasn’t expecting something so filmlike and cinematic, but I walked away delighted and I can say that some of its powerful scenes will stay with me for a while.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Dontnod and published by Bandai Namco. It is currently available on XBO, PS4, and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4. Approximately 10 hours of play were devoted to the singleplayer mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB this game is rated M and contains Drug Reference, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol, and Violence. The official description reads as follows: This is an adventure game in which players assume the role of an investigative reporter (Sam Higgins) returning to his hometown. As players progress through the storyline, they interact with locals and are presented with various dialogue and action choices. Some selections result in acts of violence, recreated in Sam’s mind: a fist fight, a character shooting a man in the chest. Blood sometimes appears underneath corpses and on characters’ clothing. As players explore the town, they can interact with a drug dealer and find an empty sachet (i.e., dime bag). During one sequence, players can choose to set a character in the High state and recreate a car crash. One bar sequence depicts a child holding a half-empty glass of beer in a bar; accompanying dialogue states, “Put that down. Kathy, what is your underage child doing drinkin’?” The words “f**k,” “sh*t,” and “a*shole” are heard in the game.
Colorblind Modes: There are no coloblind modes available.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Dialogue is subtitled and there are plenty of visual cues and text to guide players through gameplay. I do wish the game did a better job of communicating that some audio was inaudible via closed captioning. The subtitles can be resized. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable.