State Of Mind
Cyberpunk is a genre full of clichés, and State Of Mind has all of them: neon lights, corporate conspiracies, mohawk-sporting punks, AIS, brutal inequality, and the rest. Clichés they may be, but we don’t mind when they’re deployed this beautifully, creating a small but well-realised sci-fi future for you to explore in the shoes of a fascinatingly abrasive protagonist by the name of Richard Nolan.
Nolan is a man at crisis point. His life is breaking down around him as he recovers from the trauma of a life-threatening accident, with his wife and son leaving him, he assumes, because of the couple’s marital problems. When Nolan starts trying to track his family down, however, he finds that their disappearance might be connected to a corporate plot centred around uploading minds into a virtual reality system, calling everything he thought he knew about his past and present into question.
As we’ve hinted, Richard is an interesting character through which to unravel the threads of this corporate conspiracy because he’s a bit of an arsehole. He’s grumpy, unfaithful, selfish and prone to flip out at the drop of a hat. The game ensures you see good in Richard too, but it doesn’t try to justify his bad behaviour, simply accepting that people have flaws. It’s a refreshingly honest approach in a medium that usually expects us to sympathise with the character we are playing as, and lends an interesting dimension to the way you experience and understand Nolan’s tattered relationships.
The game is presented as an investigation, Nolan chasing down leads at underground nightclubs, interrogating contacts and buying hacks to illegally access databases as he digs into the mystery behind his family’s disappearance. This is somewhat misleading, as there’s very little investigation on your part, save for a few simple puzzles that have you sorting through news stories for information. In reality, this is a linear, story-based thriller that pushes you swiftly from one scene to the next. That’s no bad thing – the game’s quick pacing keeps you engaged in the story and you always feel like there’s a revelation around the next corner. However, the game would have perhaps been better served by being honest about what it is and cutting down on the busywork puzzles, or honing in on the investigation aspect and trusting us with some more detective work.
It’s difficult to tell you much more about State Of Mind without spoiling it. All we can say is that there are some powerful moments that deal with real-life issues alongside some well-considered, if unoriginal, speculation on how unevenly distributed technology could lead us to dystopia. The focus isn’t always in the right place, with some of the more intriguing aspects of the game’s characters and story left underexplored, this is still a fun, well-realised genre thriller.
7/10 VERDICT A worthwhile, if unspectacular, cyberpunk thriller
Above: AR provides information on everyone and everything in the world of State Of Mind. It’s a future that Richard has impotently been rallying against in his work as a journalist, leading to him being branded by some as a luddite.
Below: Behind the grumpy face of protagonist Richard Nolan, there’s a Neuromancer reference to be spotted in the background here for cyberpunk aficionados.
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