Reflection of Mine describes itself as a dark puzzle video game about dissociative identity disorder, or DID, and right away I need to say, I don’t think this is a good game for anyone genuinely interested in learning about the disorder. I hate to set the tone of this article with that statement but this is what I struggled with the most throughout Reflection of Mine.
I want to be clear that I have no issues with games that discuss mental health issues. In fact, I think it’s great when developers look at ways to explore different conditions and present them in a way that informs people. The first game that comes to mind is Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, which actually consulted multiple experts to create as accurate a depiction of psychosis as possible. It was received well because of it.
Reflection of Mine feels like the exact opposite. The plot comes across like it was written by someone who briefly read a description of what DID was, and then proceeded to try and write as edgy a plot as possible.
The dialogue is all over the place and full of grammatical errors, while the characters feel like twisted caricatures that poorly represent a condition that most people know very little about. I can’t imagine anyone with DID would want to be represented by a game like Reflection of Mine, and that isn’t a good takeaway when the plot’s entire identity is built around this disorder.
But this is also a game review, and on that front I have to say this is an incredibly hard puzzle game. I mean, hard. You control two characters on opposite sides of the screen that move in tandem with each other. Each side will have a layout with different obstacles and hitting any of these obstacles with either character will cause them both to spawn back at the beginning of the level. This sounds straightforward enough, but the puzzles are incredibly complex with little room for error.
Some are generous and provide save points throughout. To activate these you need to get both characters to stand on them at the same time and then press the A button. After which, dying will reset you back to the save point instead of the start of the level. These greatly reduce the amount of time spent replaying sections and are not to be overlooked.
Die enough times and you will be asked if you want some assistance. Answer yes and you start a mini-game. Again you will be controlling two characters, but this time they walk down two separate paths automatically while you have to sidestep traps and collect masks that will serve as hints. Once you either make it to the end or die enough times, you will respawn in the level with the masks you picked up. Now if you press the Y button a ghost will appear that shows you the steps to make to progress through the level.
These are going to be incredibly helpful, because, as I said, Reflection of Mine is a difficult game. Later levels will require anywhere from fifty to over a hundred moves to clear and you will be using all of your spatial reasoning skills to make it to the end of each. Reflection of Mine is designed for detail-oriented people who have a lot of time to work through puzzles.
The game takes place across four different areas: The Forest, Hotel, Church, and lastly the Asylum. Each one has its own style and characters that they revolve around. They also follow their own trope which is used to introduce different puzzle mechanics. In the Hotel, there is a third character that needs to be killed to progress from level to level. In the Church, you can destroy and rebuild pillars to avoid or get around traps. And in the Asylum there are pills you need to take that will change the map so you can progress. Each area also has a final “boss”, which is just a themed puzzle that needs to be solved.
Upon completing each area you will be told to go back and collect four keys scattered throughout previously locked levels that will reveal more of the plot, but the story isn’t something I enjoyed at all.
I really think Reflection of Mine’s biggest weakness is its over-stylized and insensitive portrayal of DID. The only artistic choice that I actually found enjoyable was the music design. It fits the theme, however tone-deaf it may be, and is never overbearing or unpleasant to listen to.
It’s a niche game with hyper-difficult gameplay that on its own isn’t a bad thing, and hardcore puzzle-solvers would probably enjoy working through Reflection of Mine on Xbox One. But the issues with the writing and plot, as well as the use of mental illness stereotypes for shock value, just rubs me the wrong way.