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July 2019

Twin Mirror

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment
Release Date: 2019


PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Twin Mirror'

by Adam Pavlacka on Oct. 31, 2018 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Twin Mirror showcases a player-driven psychological thriller featuring a malleable narrative that chronicles the journey of a tormented hero who must walk a tightrope between the harsh realities of the film noir-esque Basswood, West Virginia, and his own personal struggle.

Dontnod may be best known for its work on the Life is Strange series of video games, but that isn't the only franchise to come out of the French studio. Twin Mirror looks to be another story-driven mystery with similar gameplay mechanics but a very different plotline. Twin Mirror drops the supernatural elements from Life is Strange and replaces them with an unreliable narrator and the power of the main character's mind.

Exploration and exposition appear to be major components of Twin Mirror. The demo didn't have anything involving fast action — far from it. Instead, gameplay was very deliberate, with pacing that ensured players had a chance to take in everything. At first glance, this seemed to be for story reasons, but in reality, it has to do with how you progress through the game.

Instead of simply running through the story by starting at point A and traversing to point B, Twin Mirror starts you in the middle. You have to take in the environment, look for clues, and decide if your inner voice is there to help or hinder your progress. As you try to piece together the puzzle, you can use your "mind palace" to re-create past events and then test your hypothesis by running through it in your head.

Not every attempt will be correct, but you learn something each time you try. The more you learn, the more variables you can adjust in your mind palace. Switching between your mind and the real world helps uncover clues, so there is a drive to do both. You can't ignore the mental world in Twin Mirror any more than you can ignore the real world.

Interestingly enough, exploring the mind palace in Twin Mirror reminded me a lot of Alan Wake's later levels. In that game, the world slowly became increasingly surreal as you progressed, adventuring into a waking nightmare. I have no idea if the same will happen here, but if it did, it would fit with the visual themes that are front-and-center in this adventure.

Dontnod hasn't revealed much of the overall storyline of this episodic title. It has only teased bits of the first installment, and even those bits are limited. The biggest question at this point is what role your inner voice will play in the game. Is he there to provide an easy plot point? Is he there to help, even if you're not sure if you can trust him? Is he a symptom of a mental break? A small part of me wonders if the protagonist in Twin Mirror is actually sane. If he's not, that could certainly make for a novel twist.

Dontnod has promised multiple endings for Twin Mirror, with each of them being dependent on where you go, who you talk to, and what you uncover across the course of the game. The goal is to encourage exploration and open-ended play as you investigate the town.

It's too early to tell how Twin Mirror will play out, but if the Life is Strange games are any indication, Twin Mirror should deliver a memorable story when it releases next year.

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