Over the course of the last decade or so, it has been the need to push a story that has really come to the fore in the gaming scene. Whilst there is still a place for short, sharp, fun experiences allowing quick fixes when the need arises, for many sitting down with a game is now all about being immersed in a tale, and being provided a narrative that they can really get their teeth into.
The very biggest franchises have combined this narrative based-gaming in a multitude of ways, but for many the real storytelling kings have been those who have been able to take some lore and push it out across episodic chapters, all while letting the player dictate how things pan out. Think Telltale Games and their host of series and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
But prior to the demise of Telltale, there was another company pushing them all the way for that experience-led crown, with Dontnod Entertainment dropping stunning experiences with their Life is Strange franchise. It has to be said that those who initially spent time with Max and Chloe in the original game, and then the Diaz brothers in Life Is Strange 2, would have come away more than satisfied. Now though it’s time for Dontnod to work another angle, with the hugely interesting, massively intriguing, Twin Mirror.
First revealed back in 2018, all has been relatively quiet on the promotion front for Twin Mirror since. That is until now, and hot on the heels of a teaser trailer that dropped at the recent PC Gaming event, we were invited to a developer presentation of the game, with full director commentary in tow. We duly accepted, and were not surprised by the quality of the promise that Twin Mirror will quite obviously deliver on.
Twin Mirror focuses on the life of one Sam Higgs, an ex-former investigative reporter who is found heading back to his old hometown of Basswood, in order to attend the funeral and wake of his best friend, Nick. With immediate familiarity of what Dontnod achieved with Life is Strange, Twin Mirror sets the scene brilliantly, utilising a rich cinematic feel that has been inspired by the most iconic of movie thrillers.
Visually it all very much reminds one of what Dontnod have previously created, with their ‘stamp’ most certainly in place throughout, all as we follow Sam through Basswood State Forest, reliving memories of his past days – memories that are both good and bad.
One sequence takes us through the backstory of Sam and his ex-girlfriend Anna, detailing how a marriage proposal went bad and saw the start of his life away from Basswood. These cinematic moments quite obviously draw the gamer in more, whilst hidden secrets, and the use of exploration in order to discover collectibles relating to the characters Sam meets, just hammer that feeling home some more. Simply put, if you’re after backstory and lore, Twin Mirror looks set to provide it.
However, this isn’t just a casual visual novel romp, and Dontnod are utilising many features to bring further suspense and intrigue to the game. Much of this revolves around Sam’s Mind Palace, a place where he can draw on, reconstruct and work with the power of logical deduction to bring together the most important parts of his life – just like when he got down on one knee for Anna. With everything he sees out in the real world noted in his investigative mind, and plenty of memories to take hold and harness, you can be sure this freaky alternate palace will be a source of great information.
As you would expect from a Dontnod game – especially one coming on the back of the hugely successful Life is Strange – decision making is a key component here; every single decision you make in Twin Mirror will affect Sam’s life going forward. This may come in the form of the most inconsequential of decisions, or it may see you having to decide between a variety of deep and meaningful options. This occurred in the developer presentation as we joined Sam having a chat with his teenage god-daughter, Joan – Nick’s daughter, no less – a young girl who is desperate for some closure and in need of Sam’s help in doing so.
The choice as to how you help her out is one of the most vital shown in this Twin Mirror presentation, and it is here where another great looking addition comes into play; something that throws in a whole new aspect to the usual narrative building that Dontnod thrive on – The Double, Sam’s alter ego.
Sitting in the background, ready to pounce when the time calls, The Double will pop up as the most vital decisions are required, offering an alternative viewpoint to what you thought you already knew. The question is, do you listen to The Double, or do you go down your own path, believing your own inner instincts are the right course of action? With no right or wrong answers present in Twin Mirror, allowing Dontnod to let you create your own story with the decisions you make for Sam, we can be sure that highly emotional and hugely exciting opportunities will exist when the game releases later in 2020 on Xbox One, PS4 and PC.
For now though, we’ll leave you with the recent teaser trailer for Twin Mirror. Give it a watch and let us know what you think of it all by dropping into the comments.
Massive thanks go out to the team at Dontnod Entertainment for giving us the chance to check out the game via this first look presentation. We can’t wait to see how Sam’s story plays out for us in the months ahead. On the back of what we’ve seen, chances are Dontnod will be continuing their run as champion of narrative-based gaming when Twin Mirror finally launches.