Review | Twin Mirror
Twin Mirror is the latest psychological thriller from the developers of Life is Strange, Dontnod Entertainment. It also happens to be their first self-published title on PC. While Bandai Namco helps out with the console versions, this is still a wonderful achievement for the studio. The game follows Sam, an anti-social investigative journalist who leaves his hometown of Basswood, West Virginia after a series of unfortunate events. However, when he receives news of his best friend’s death, he’s forced to return to the same town he ran away from.
Twin Mirror is one of the most narrative-driven games in recent releases, and it’s quite a unique one at that. It’s also a game I’ve been anticipating due to Dontnod’s track record with excellent storytelling games. Dontnod’s talents tend to lie with paranormal and surreal plotlines, and Twin Mirror is no different.
The game starts simple enough as you jump into the life of the misanthropic Sam. Like in Dontnod’s previous titles, gameplay involves Sam interacting with the environment while his inner thoughts serve as a guide. Sam is someone who’s still stuck in the past, and you can tell this from his constant blissful recollections upon returning to Basswood. As a person who has difficulty interacting with others, it might make conversation a bit difficult. Luckily, he has “The Double,” a smartly dressed bespectacled man who lives in his head, helping him properly interact with the people around him and advising him during intense moments in the game.
Unfortunately, in the beginning, The Double isn’t available for Sam, forcing our protagonist to confront all his issues head-on. It doesn’t take long till he is quickly met with conflict due to an article from his past. Coupled with his grief, he decides to drown his sorrows in beer on the night of his friend’s funeral. The next morning, he wakes up to find his shirt covered in blood. After a very dramatic gameplay sequence playing out his meltdown, he decides to investigate the source. This is where the game’s events really kick off. Sam is forced to investigate a string of murders in his town, including that of his friend’s unnatural demise.
Along the way, Sam will need to make decisions that will determine which of the game’s multiple endings you’ll get. Most of these decisions boil down to dialogue options, some taking a logical route while others a more social one. Players also have the option to ask their considerate imaginary friend to help out with some of these sections. Aside from daunting decisions, players will also encounter puzzles in the game, however they’re too few and not interesting enough to be noteworthy.
During investigations, Sam enters his Mind Palace, which is his solitary and illusionary state of mind. It helps him recollect memories and piece together clues to solve a problem. The gameplay plays out not unlike the detective mode in the Batman Arkham games, albeit more stylistic. However, players should prepare to spend quite a bit of time in the Mind Place, as they’ll have to pay attention to find all the clues in the area and match them up till the outcome makes sense.
Visually, Twin Mirror doesn’t look much different from other Dontnod titles. Despite a similar style, the character models are noticeably more detailed than in other games, much like Tell Me Why. I also appreciate how unique the environments are, especially during Sam’s many meltdown sessions and the surreal aesthetic of the Mind Palace. Basswood’s design alone, while limited, was both beautiful and accurate to what a small mining town should look like. Despite the interesting visuals, Twin Mirror still has quite a few noticeable flaws, both technically and in its narrative.
First off, during dialogue exchanges, characters would often clip into scenes, and sometimes the lip-syncing would be almost nonexistent. Aside from that, the game’s length is criminally short, lasting around five to six hours. While I enjoyed the premise, it unfortunately fails to leave a lasting impression on the player due to this short length. It doesn’t help that the game has an overall rushed plot and unwarranted twists. Sadly, this also negatively affects the gameplay, and as there’s already very little of it, it doesn’t leave a lot for you to play.
It’s really a pity, as I believe if Twin Mirror had a lot more development time and a bigger budget to refine and flesh out its story, it would have been a great narrative murder mystery to rival Life is Strange. This isn’t to say I hated my time with the game. I still enjoyed the world, characters, and especially its overall central premise, which I found to be less grandiose and more grounded. Unfortunately, the short length, rushed plot, and presentation issues bring it down a bit.
Final Score: 7 out of 10
A digital copy of Twin Mirror was provided to GotGame by Dontnod for this review.