DONTNOD Entertainment are bringing out the big guns this year. We’ve already had a phenomenal release in ‘Tell Me Why’, but I feel like that may have been the appetiser to the main course that Twin Mirror is boasting. With both Life is Strange and the aforementioned IP behind them, Twin Mirror seeks to enrich the studio’s already established legacy with a polished identity that had been founded by its inaugural point-and-click journey. It had been quite sometime, 2013 in fact since the French studio had enveloped such depth into a title with key characteristics that make it differ from anything they’ve already achieved. That is not say that Twin Mirror doesn’t lift facets from it’s renowned Time-Twisting adventure, but rather borrows inspiration to make for an original development.
The studio had become synonymous for grazing upon key issues within everyday life, including mental health and wellbeing. This is heavily implied within the life of troubled journalist Sam Higgs. Travelling home for his best friends untimely death, Sam is confronted with the fact that he had never said his goodbye’s and had moved on from life within small village of Basswood. Akin to a Virginian like town, the aesthetic and gruff exterior suggests that the livelihood is one of seclusion. A Quiet Place, if you will. Engaging with a plethora of personalities, Sam begins to reminisce about the good times that he had with family, friends and a potential relationship that unfortunately fell flat. Unfortunately for “Duley”, these memories are only and outlier to his troubled dissociative attribute, that plays with his emotions.
As the title implies, Twin Mirror demonstrates a split personality that almost haunts Sam, but also tries its best to guide him. Distinguished by his appearance, Sam’s alter ego is simply an apparition of his self in almost a wishful state. Sam’s unkempt appearance is opposed by The Double’s clean cut, lens wearing, parted hairline that expresses intellect. Sam’s desire to be someone else other than the person that he see’s in the mirror has developed this imaginary persona that he manages to hide from people. Returning to his home town, the reporter is met with nothing but hostility from its natives that had essentially expelled and denounced him after his apparent getaway. With his relationship on tatters, and his direction in life uncertain, it was hard for the journalist to face the music. Sam’s cold unwelcome sets the initial tone for the entire experience, and for what is to come.
With the death of his best friend Nick, “Duley” is welcome back home by his estranged compatriot’s daughter “Bug” Joan Waldron. This is where certain intricate details of Sam’s own personality start to piece itself, with undeniable anxiety taking a stronghold of his ability to overcome. Heavily medicating himself by chewing tubes of pills, like Dr. House takes his Vicodin, Sam tries his best to clear the fog with his gift to escape reality. The “mind palace” represents Sam’s subconscious, when he needs moments of clarity, to revisit old memories and ultimately confront them. For those who may study Cognitive Science, they may be familiar with this sort of projection that is being articulated. The palace appears like a pieces of a shattered universe that are glued together by memories that Sam represses.
Early on, the “mind palace” is solely present for demonstrative purposes to familiarise the player with our protagonist’s backstory. The narrative unfolds from that standpoint and continues to reveal itself as the uncomfortable columnist begins to play the role of detective, after a certain request is made by Joan. This is also where I begin to appreciate how DONTNOD give representation to those whom may struggle with these personal demons in everyday life, but also use these attributes to their advantage. While much of the game will entail the player connecting the dots of a discombobulated undertaking, the narrative itself exclaims one key trait, control. The ability to overcome, and pace yourself through this innovative experience will be one that fans will certainly find intriguing, if not memorable for specifics that most likely reveal itself upon its release, this December.
Albeit, in the two hours I had with Twin Mirror, I can say with utmost certainty that DONTNOD have elevated their game and are coming into the next generation with the intent to make their mark right at the forefront. Borrowing the best of everything developed in its prior franchises, you can be almost certain that Twin Mirror looks to fascinate players with a captivating tale of mystery and wonder, while challenging those who may be unfamiliar with the struggles of mental health with an artistic representation that floored me upon gazing its wondrous abstract. The Dialogue between characters felt natural, while its overall design has see’s a massive improvement over the already elevated display given in Tell Me Why. The simple gesture of investigating certain clues, piecing each lead together and unlocking your pathway back to the mind palace, makes for some interesting character developments.
From what I can gauge in this short preview, there is an intention for resolve. Not only in Sam’s own split personality, his deep seeded anxiety and efforts to mend burnt bridges, but it’s ultimately a tale of closure. Something we all struggle with daily on a respective basis. It’s human nature, and completely relatable; Every facet highlighted within Twin Mirror demonstrates this. I’m completely absorbed by the title’s interest in illustrating a unique take on mental health, the importance of one’s well being, and of course closure.
It explores great interpretation into the mind of a troubled soul that is only at odds with their own mentality. I’ve always been told that the brain is a funny thing, yet Twin Mirror extracts a sincere nature to the debilitating state of mind and let’s the audience simply engage with its fragility. By the way, broken glass and fragile… *chef’s kiss*. Twin Mirror is looking to be a leading example of excellent writing, and character growth, and I can’t wait to explore more of it.
Twin Mirror releases for XBOX One X, PlayStation 4 and PC on Decemeber 1, 2020.
Twin Mirror - Bandai Namco
Twin Mirror is an upcoming adventure game developed and published by Dontnod Entertainment and co-produced by Shibuya Productions. It is set to be released in December 2020 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.