Dontnod Entertainment revealed Twin Mirror already 2018, a thriller mystery with investigative gameplay and heavy focus on storytelling and choices with consequences. Since the show at Gamescom 2018, the game dropped in the dark and first appeared again during PC Game Show this year, with Epic Store exclusivity on PC and with independent publishing. Twin Mirror also transformed from episodic narrative, like Life is Strange, for a single game. Furthermore, the main character and his conscience have been given a make over as well as the graphics a much improved framing.
Varvat had the pleasure of seeing a streamed preview of the initial minutes of Twin Mirror with associated comments and can report that the game has matured significantly since 2018. However, the show leaves some question marks and clouds of concern that hopefully blow away before the release.
Twin Mirror – a thriller
The show begins much like the latest trailer, with the protagonist Sam Higgs, a former digging reporter, returning to his hometown of Basswood. The introduction is atmospheric with hazy clouds and gloomy sunlight. You can almost take Sam’s grief. Here, Dontnod shows that they have not lost their strong sense of appropriate music (“You Keep Coming Alive” by Sean Rowe) to enhance the game’s scenes.
Sam doesn’t return home because he wants to, but because he needs to. His best friend has died and is to be put in the ground. Along the way, he stops at a lookout site to reflect and give us players an opportunity to get a taste of his past. We get to see him root out a particularly painful memory from his memory palace (which plays an important role in game mechanics and where important memories are crystallized). Unfortunately, Sam forgets the time while he thinks and misses the funeral.
The surroundings of Twin Mirror seems more elaborate than Dontnod’s previous games and Sam can research all kinds of things in the environment that he is reasoning about. These things may seem trivial at the moment, but for a man like Sam, the details may come in handy later. Thanks to his memory ability you slowly build up an information register of people who are important to the story.
After the gloomy opening scene, Sam rolls into Basswood and parks for the evening. Here steps Twin Mirror into what I assume is its intended costume. An imminent darkness with a trailing camera and almost voyeuristic perspective. Similarities to the film medium and thrillers in particular are evident. Something Dontnod says is a goal with Twin Mirror and which I must admit is well done.
Here we also have to meet the dialogue system and the choices you, like Sam, will have to make to push the story forward. Sam meets his goddaughter who has a lot of skin on her nose for a teenager. She blames him for being stuck and several answer opportunities present themselves. How decisive these choices are can not be said at present, but seems to control the tone of the conversation and Sam’s presentation. It is only when Sam’s conscience, The Double, reveals itself as a clear crossroads in the story. Dontnod says that the choices you make have a big impact on the story, but have not revealed anything about the number of endings or ramifications in the story.
The Double is more a manifestation of Sam’s psyche than 2018’s crazier personality cleavage and now allows Sam and the player to see problems from a different perspective. The goddaughter in question needs Sam’s help, and the wording in the show gave a strong impression that Basswood is hiding dark secrets. These crucial decisions affect the story’s outcome, but the important thing to note here is that none of the answers in the show were black or white. It is up to you to decide which is the least worst choice.
Nice but hard to grasp
During its absence from the spotlight has Twin Mirror seen a graphic upgrade without losing the style of the 2018 announcement. Above all, light and camera angles are better. The cinematic setting is superb and the play along with the music gets Twin Mirror to give a good first impression. However, this short presentation leaves many issues regarding the gameplay of the game. Dontnod Entertainment says they will show more of the game before release. Probably the basis of the game mechanics is intact though it remains to be seen. While gameplay is somewhat affordable in a story-driven game, I worry more about the main character Sam.
It is unfair to reject Sam after only 15 minutes of playing time, but unfortunately he just now appears as a self-proclaimed white guy who, despite his cruel memory capacity, is still fired at 30. This impression I get most because of a scene in the show that is a little clumsy written and that paints Sam just like that.
Without the larger context, it is incredibly difficult to sympathize with Sam and understand his driving forces. Unlike the cocky rebel Chloe in Life is Strange or the struggling big brother Sean in the sequel, Sam or, rather, we haven’t seen a clear point that makes him relatable. Instead, The Double attracts more interest. How he leads or creates conflict should certainly be exciting to see. Hopefully we get more information about Twin Mirror soon and above all a reason why we should care about Sam.
Twin Mirror will be released soon on PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One.