State of Mind

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
Release Date: Aug. 15, 2018


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PS4 Review - 'State of Mind'

by Fran Soto on May 23, 2019 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

State of Mind is a futuristic thriller/adventure with remarkably realistic low poly visuals where a dystopian reality and a utopian virtual future stand in stark contrast to each other.

Buy State of Mind

The cyberpunk genre has long fascinated our society, with works of media like "Blade Runner," "The Matrix," and early works like "Metropolis" (1927), to name a few. A society in decline from its golden age with a staggering inequality of classes are usual themes in cyberpunk. Mega corporations taking control and acting as independent entities for the control of humanity paint a bleak picture. These themes of agony, androids and augmentations can be found in Daedalic Entertainment's cyberpunk title, State of Mind.

An ambitious RPG that sends players on a mystery spanning two different cities, with two different protagonists, State of Mind asks the hard-hitting philosophical questions of the cyberpunk genre. What does it mean to be human? What is consciousness? Do we really have control of our own destiny when such large forces are at play? It's a monumental task to take on such subjects, but State of Mind does its best. While these questions are important catalysts for the story, the title ends up biting off a little more than it can chew, as the narrative suffers from some major plot holes. Despite its story inconsistencies, State of Mind knows how to hook players with its content and gameplay for a memorable experience.

We wake up with little to no memory about our previous days. Flashes of a car crash appear in our mind as we try to make sense of our surroundings. Getting out of bed, we take on the role of one of our protagonists, Richard Nolan, who's well-known as a hardcore investigative journalist for The Voice, Berlin's most prolific news source. Richard has fallen from grace, and he is portrayed as a bitter husk of a man. Marital problems and work issues plague him. He encounters an android servant, Simon, in his apartment, and we can immediately tell that Richard has a deep hatred for robots. Richard's wife has taken their son to the in-laws for a few days, so he's on his own. Richard gets more piled on his plate when he's fired from his job. Attempting to get in contact with his wife, Richard notices that there are inconsistencies with her story about going to her parents' house. After calling his father-in-law, Richard learns that his wife never actually arrived. Thus begins Richard's quest to unravel the mystery of his family's disappearance.

We wake up again, but this time, we're in a different, sunny apartment. Again, flashes of memories appear in our mind. Another car crash? Our son is playing with his favorite toy. It's almost time to take him to his doctor's appointment. We take on the role of the other protagonist, Adam Newman, the second half of State of Mind's story. A well-received journalist for The Present, Adam seems to live a perfect life. He has a stable job as head writer, a beautiful and successful wife, and a brilliant son. Whereas Richard's Berlin is a derelict society, Adam lives in a utopia of technological advancement. City5 is perfect, with only one flaw: Random earthquakes are occurring. They're being written off as natural occurrences, but Adam has an inkling that something is wrong. We get the sense that Adam cares deeply for his family and about doing the right thing. State of Mind does an amazing job of creating fully realized characters with a rich background that adds to the story.

As we make our way through the story, we switch back and forth between Adam and Richard. With the world's problems enveloping both of them, the protagonists find themselves on different sides of the same coin. To avoid major spoilers, let's just say that both men come together to solve the mystery behind these strange events. We learn that Richard's family is part of a deeper, sinister plot to upturn the world. Major forces at play attempt to use both men as pawns in their plan. State of Mind finds a way to add twists and turns to the story in order to keep players hooked. The title does an excellent job of prompting us to ask, "What's next?"

With different plot turns to keep us hooked, State of Mind also utilizes intuitive gameplay to keep the story going. Not only can we examine different environmental elements, but interesting puzzles also keep the momentum going until the end. The game also creates a fully realized world that makes us want to take a look at everything, even if it doesn't have much to do with the story. Adam's city is bright and sunny, with gorgeous visuals and bright environmental effects. Minigames within the world create a lasting impression and even ask the player to consider the role of technology within society. By contrast, Richard's Berlin is dark and gloomy. The streets are filled with trash and beggars. It's obvious that it is a dystopian world that is dangerously close to civil war. Both cities have been built to reflect a kind of society that adds to the title's depth and keeps us coming back for more.

State of Mind utilizes interesting characters and intuitive gameplay to keep the story moving along. However, because the title attempts to tackle so many different elements — android sentience, human revolution, and the parallel stories of Adam and Richard — it suffers from plot inconsistencies. We jump from one plot point to the next, and in some cases, that loses the player. The title asks questions that are never resolved, and the biggest shame of all is the unsatisfying ending. While the RPG elements mean there are dialogue choices and multiple avenues asking us to make difficult decisions, some endings leave us with more questions than answers. For example, at one point, Richard is branded as a terrorist by every major news outlet, but the ending makes it seem like everything goes back to normal. Is he no longer a terrorist, or is he still a wanted man? There is no resolution to certain plot devices. This is just one example of inconsistencies that plague State of Mind. However, looking at the game for what it is, it shows a lot of heart and passion for the source material.

State of Mind is a thrilling mystery that knows how to keep its audience engaged. Drawing upon major dystopian themes and cyberpunk worlds, the title asks deep questions about humanity to keep the story's momentum. Utilizing thought-provoking puzzles and intuitive gameplay makes State of Mind a fun experience that keeps us hooked until the very end. With so much to look at and explore, the title does an excellent job of world-building and creating a fully realized society. It's a deep game with much lore that adds to the genre. Where State of Mind excels in providing excellent gameplay, visuals and plot hooks, it falters in being able to answer many of the questions that it poses. Depending on which ending players arrive at, you could be left asking, "Is that it?" Despite its flaws, however, State of Mind kept us hooked until the very end. If one can overlook the plot inconsistencies, State of Mind is a deep story about the "what-ifs" of humanity's future.

Score: 8.5/10

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