Twin Mirror

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment
Release Date: Dec. 1, 2020


As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Twin Mirror'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on July 10, 2020 @ 8:00 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.

Twin Mirror is set in the small town of Basswood, West Virginia. It appears to be the prototypical small, rural town that's built around a mine, and it has been slowly dying in the wake of a weakening mining industry. Players take control of Sam Hicks, a former investigative reporter and similarly former resident of the small town. Sam left Basswood under bad circumstances some time ago, but he's forced to return to attend the funeral of his best friend, Nick, who died in a car accident. Unfortunately, that also means confronting his ex-girlfriend, Anna, who caused him to leave Basswood in the first place.

Sam is not merely an investigative reporter but a Sherlock-style super-analyst. From the get-go, this colors every moment of the gameplay. Just about everything that Sam looks at shows an instant analysis pop-up that gives Sam's thoughts on the matter. It can be as simple as looking at a blocked path or as complex as considering the history of the town. Of course, Sam can choose to further investigate to add more of his own thoughts to the matter. Sometimes this can provide extra context, such as finding memories of characters that can alter their biographies (and later interactions with them), while other times, it adds some narrative flavor.

When things get more complex, we're introduced to Sam's Mind Palace, which is a beautiful crystalline landscape that hovers in the white void of Sam's inner thoughts. The exact mechanics of the Mind Palace have been redesigned from earlier versions of the game, but unfortunately, our demo didn't show off the new mechanics. From what we see, Sam can investigate his older memories and watch them play out in real time to offer new insight into his world. Unfortunately, this comes at a cost. As Sam reminisces about his failed marriage proposal to Anna, he ends up losing time — and missing Nick's funeral. At the moment, it's unclear if this is an actual gameplay element or merely a bit of flavor, but it certainly puts Sam in a bad spot.

Although he's too late for the funeral, Sam still has a chance to attend the wake, where we're introduced to the game's other big mechanic: The Double. Waiting for Sam is Nick's daughter (and Sam's goddaughter), Joan. She asks to speak to Nick in private … and then asks him to investigate Nick's death because she feels that it couldn't have been an accident. Here's where we see Sam's alter-ego, The Double, who's a devil's advocate that argues against Sam's own viewpoint. Sam wants to help Joan, but The Double argues that it gives her false hope and makes it harder for her to move on. Eventually, you're allowed to choose between the two, which influences Joan's relationship with Sam for the rest of the game. According to the developer, there are no correct answers, just answers that shape Sam's story.

Twin Mirror is obviously heavily inspired by television shows and movies. The cinematography includes long tracking shots, various types of mood lighting, and it tries very hard to capture the feel of watching a movie rather than general cut scenes. Even the Mind Palace is designed to make the act of watching someone think more interesting — much like how television shows like "Sherlock" use it for similar purposes.

All in all, Twin Mirror has a lot of potential as a moody, atmospheric adventure game. From the demo, it's difficult to tell what direction the story will go in, or even if the story will be mundane or supernatural. It's undeniably working hard to set a gloomy mood and tone with a distinctive feel. No matter what direction Sam's story goes, we're looking forward to seeing more of Twin Mirror when it releases later this year for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

More articles about Twin Mirror
blog comments powered by Disqus