State Of Mind

Games TM - - CONTENTS -

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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