Dontnod’s Twin Mirror focuses on the story of Sam Higgs, a reporter that has returned to his hometown of Basswood West Virginia to attend his best friend Nick’s wake. Sam’s story proceeds to take the player through his entire coping process as he comes to grips with the fact that his friend is gone and that it may have not been an accident. Dontnod are known for their storytelling and while this tale eventually comes together, the acting, voiceovers, dubbing, graphics and other things hold it back from truly shining.
Gameplay is easy to understand, as levels are broken down into exploration, gathering clues and making decisions based off those clues gathered or conversations had. The controls are simple with the Y and A being the main buttons used for most actions. Sam’s journal will slowly fill up with information as he goes from place to place in Basswood, having conversations with townsfolk and friends about current events. Sam will also pick-up secret items along the way, which may also be memento’s for key characters that display in Sam’s journal.
The near six-hour story takes Sam around the town of Basswood after he has a fight at Nick’s wake and wakes up with a blood-covered shirt. Sam proceeds to uncover his past with Anna, Nick and Joan, who is Nick’s daughter. Along the way Sam receives advice from his alternate personality as a result of Sam being a high functioning schizophrenic. The player must make unchangeable decisions and either side with Sam’s social self or his dark and brooding side. In order to come to a conclusion, the player is thrown into Sam’s mind palace until the correct assessment is reached for each set of clues. Sam must carefully react to each conversation as certain choices will shape the ending for Sam, Anna and Joan’s story as they search for clues on how Nick died. The story for the first couple of hours is a bit confusing as to where it is headed but the final hours bring it all together. The big finale makes sense at the end, if the player can stand the beginning “Where is this going?” moment and make it there.
The mind palace is Sam’s way of processing information, remembering past memories and making key decisions in order to progress to the next part of the story. At times, it also throws Sam into some harrowing sequences of where he must find his way to the surface of his thoughts in order to return to the real world and be able to continue to the next objective or make a key decision. The mind palace is a great idea as it allows for a different style of play where the player can trial certain clues and play them out over and over until the solution fits the evidence found in each scene. Be sure to look for key objects in Basswood that will put Sam into the mind palace where he will experience a past memory.
While Twin Mirror doesn’t have any game breaking bugs it has a few frustrating issues that could have been avoided. For the developers to have used the Unreal 4 engine, the graphics are lacking, along with the fact that most side characters have the same emotions whether they are happy or sad. The acting and voice over work is bad, with Sam not having a lot of emotion at all and his alternate personality isn’t much better. The environment of Basswood is a bit drab and needed a bit more attention to small details in order to make the environment more immersive for the player.
As a single player game, Twin Mirror can be picked up and put down whenever parenting moments are required. The player can either pause or just put the controller down as only a few key moments are timed with Quick Time Events style events. This is not a game for kids as the topics are mature and include solving a crime along with several other subjects that would be hard to explain to young ears along with profanity throughout. The mind palace also has several sequences that would be too scary for most kids.
Rob for One More Game
5 – Average – This game doesn’t hit it out of the ballpark, but it does provide a solid experience, with a few issues here and there. As an average game, fans of the genre or series may get more enjoyment out of it, but it is only worth a try for the average gamer, at a discount price.
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Twin Mirror was reviewed on an Xbox Series X and is also available on Xbox Series S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4 and Windows PC.
The publisher kindly provided review code for this title. All thoughts on this game are ours and ours alone.