Although Twin Mirror is essentially a typical Dontnod game, the developers dare to make a few innovations. For example, after several adventures in episode format, this time the focus is on a complete narrative in one piece. Like its predecessors, Twin Mirror was originally planned in small bites. The almost nine-hour game also puts a slightly older person in the foreground for the first time after children and teenagers.
We play the investigative journalist Samuel Higgs, who two years before the actual plot causes the closure of a mine near his home village of Basswood in the US state of West Virginia with an article about illegal working conditions. Instead of thanks, there is open hostility:
Half the community blames him for the job loss of many miners. After breaking up with his partner, nothing can keep him there and he decides to leave Basswood and everyone he ever known behind. Two years later, Sam returns after the accidental death of his best friend. In addition to the one or the other (un) pleasant reunion, he quickly comes across indications that there may be more behind the passing of his buddy than it seems …
Out of its infancy
Source: PC Games
After the almost 20-year-old twins Tyler and Alison from Tell Me Why were the oldest protagonists in Dontnod's story adventures to date, Sam in his mid-thirties is a pleasant change. Despite the young protagonists, very serious and socially critical issues were addressed in the previous adventures. The whole thing was loosened up creatively, for example, by the book of fairy tales in Tell Me Why and Max's diary in Life is Strange. Such gimmicks do not exist in Twin Mirror, as the creators wanted to tell a dark story. The whole presentation, including the menus, seems a lot more sterile than we are used to from Dontnod's games. We could definitely have found a somewhat more unusual approach in Twin Mirror, because, for example, Life is Strange did not shy away from deeply serious topics such as rape, suicide, drugs and child pornography despite weird elements! This time loneliness, unpleasant occupational groups and psychological problems are discussed.
The desired depressing mood also only occurs in the so-called thought paradise. The fictional place in Sam's head gives our protagonist enough time and space to think about all kinds of things. Usually it is a bright environment in which we can relive memories. In the event of panic attacks, however, this haven of calm can sometimes turn into a dark, threatening place from which it is necessary to escape with different, but always simple gameplay elements.
These moments are not really scary, but they definitely offer a welcome change of atmosphere. We get help from an imaginary friend in our head who is always by our side in the real world. In contrast to the rather stoic, emotionally withdrawn Sam, the so-called double is much more empathetic and regularly bails the journalist out of a mess. Whether we, as Sam, listen to the inner voice is up to us, because even this has not always eaten the wisdom with spoons. In conversations we often have to choose between moral but untrue possible answers and the hard truth. With a personified moral element in the form of a double, Twin Mirror impresses us with the "correct" answer even more clearly than in its predecessors. In a game in which everything revolves around choosing our own path, we want to like to make our own decisions! Probably to underline the contrast between Double and Sam, our main character also behaves in some situations, almost exaggeratedly unsympathetic. This makes the inner turmoil even clearer, but we can hardly identify ourselves with Sam anymore.
This is especially a shame because the story itself is very exciting! Basswood is also populated by interesting and sometimes lovable people. Because of these positive aspects, Twin Mirror entertained us for the entire duration of the game, despite the disappointing protagonist and the sober presentation.
Who still needs Sherlock Holmes?
Source: PC Games
In terms of gameplay, not much has changed: we walk around in small areas, look at objects and have conversations with different options. The already mentioned gameplay elements in the thought paradise, which are structured like small, but not very challenging puzzles, offer variety. It gets more exciting at crime scenes. There we can analyze the course of events by finding various surrounding evidence and linking it logically. If we analyze a situation incorrectly, the game points this out to us and only allows us to move on when the events are put together correctly. It is a pity that a mistake is not simply seen as a further "decision-making option". Wrong conclusions and judgments would certainly have led to interesting conversations. But even without this challenge, the crime scene investigations offer a pleasant change.
Mirror Mirror on the wall …
Source: PC Games
… which is the most beautiful Dontnod game in the whole country? The answer is certainly different for everyone, as the titles were given more graphic details as the developers gained more experience, but the watercolor-like comic style established in Life is Strange was reduced more and more. At first glance, Twin Mirror is technically very similar to Tell Me Why. On closer inspection, however, it becomes apparent that the characters' facial expressions are much less successful in Twin Mirror. The voice actors are great as always! Otherwise the animations are partly just as stiff as in the earlier Dontnod games, but that doesn't matter. The music is nice, but it doesn't match great soundtracks like the ones from Life is Strange.
Dontnod has a problem: inevitably, every new game from the studio has to be compared to Life is Strange, by far the biggest hit of the game company. In view of the great love many fans have for the episode adventure, the bar is high, so disappointment is inevitable in many cases. Even Twin Mirror can't keep up with the teen drama despite good ideas. Unfortunately, the title doesn't convince compared to the other quasi-predecessors either. The unsympathetic protagonist, the forced "correct" answers and the sterile and uncreative design weigh too heavily. Nevertheless, the game is worth a look due to the exciting story, the lovable characters and the cool staging of the thought paradise. We are excited to see which project Dontnod will jump on next.
Our imaginary friend is clearly more empathetic than us and helps us at all times. Whether we want it or not … (Source: PC Games)
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